The Travel Allowance

s. 34(1) of the Judges Act

Preamble

The relevant provisions provide as follows:

Subject to this section and sections 36 to 39, a judge of a superior court who, for the purposes of performing any function or duty in that capacity, attends at any place other than that at which or in the immediate vicinity of which the judge is by law obliged to reside is entitled to be paid, as a travel allowance, moving or transportation expenses and the reasonable travel and other expenses incurred by the judge in so attending.

In essence, the travel allowance is meant to reimburse judges for expenses they incur when they are called upon to travel in order to attend sittings of the Court outside Ottawa. By law, expenses reimbursed under this section must be reasonable and incurred by the judge only, for travel outside of where the judge resides or works and in order to perform their function of a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada.The Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada issues Guidelines on the Travel Allowance.

Classes of Expenses Reimbursed - ss. 90.08(c)

Transportation

Costs related to necessary travel by air, rail, taxi, or automobile, subject to limits and conditions identified in the Guidelines

Accommodation

Includes hotels, subject to maximums prescribed in the Guidelines, and private accommodation

Meals

Actual and reasonable meal expenses with receipts, or per diems prescribed in the Guidelines

Other reasonable expenses

Includes annual fees for credit cards with travel privileges and other related travel expenses not reimbursed elsewhere

Guidelines on the Travel Allowance - ss. 90.08(e)

(sections 34 and 39 of the Judges Act)

Introduction

The purpose of these Guidelines is to provide guidance and clarification to judges who must travel to attend to their duties as judges, and claim expenses under sections 34 and 39 of the Judges Act. These Guidelines cannot provide for every circumstance and judges should contact the Registrar in advance if they are uncertain as to whether an expense may be claimed.

Sections 34 and 39 of the Act

These sections provide as follows:

Travel and Other Allowances

Superior courts

34 (1) Subject to this section and sections 36 to 39, a judge of a superior court who, for the purposes of performing any function or duty in that capacity, attends at any place other than that at which or in the immediate vicinity of which the judge is by law obliged to reside is entitled to be paid, as a travel allowance, moving or transportation expenses and the reasonable travel and other expenses incurred by the judge in so attending.

Where no allowance

(2) No judge is entitled to be paid a travel allowance for attending at or in the immediate vicinity of the place where the judge resides.

[...]

Certificate of judge

39 Every application for payment of a travel allowance shall be accompanied by a certificate of the judge applying for it showing the number of days for which a travel allowance is claimed and the amount of the actual expenses incurred.

In essence, the travel allowance is meant to reimburse judges for expenses they incur when they are called upon to travel in order to attend sittings of the Court outside Ottawa.

By law, expenses reimbursed under this section must be:

  • reasonable;
  • incurred by the judge only (expenses paid on behalf of others may not be claimed);
  • for travel outside of where he or she resides or works;
  • in order to perform his or her function or duty as a judge.

General principles

The Registrar administers allowances provided to judges under the Judges Act, and audits every claim. Reimbursements made under the travel allowance must adhere to the following principles:

  • value for money;
  • accountability;
  • transparency; and
  • respect for judicial independence.

Classes or categories of reimbursable expenses

Transportation

Air and rail travel

Judges in travel status may choose the class of air or rail travel they use. In doing so, judges should have regard for the duration of travel and for the prudent and economic use of public funds. As well, full fare tickets for any class should not be purchased if a lower fare ticket in the class flown is available.

Taxis

The cost of taxis may be claimed where their use is reasonable and economical.

Vehicles

The cost of a rental car, up to a full-size vehicle, and fuel costs may be claimed where use of a rental car is reasonable and economical. The decision to rent a car should be made with regard to the prudent and economic use of public funds. “Collision damage waiver” coverage may be claimed in the event it is not provided through the credit card used for the rental. Judges should ensure that a rented vehicle is covered for such losses since no reimbursement may be made for theft or damage to a rented vehicle.

The use of privately owned vehicles may be claimed when it is reasonable and economical to do so. In such cases, a kilometric rate (published quarterly) is payable based on the distance between the home or the SCC building, and the place of arrival. It covers all vehicle costs, including fuel, maintenance, repairs, loss or damage, insurance, and roadside assistance services. If travel occurs in more than one province or territory, the kilometric rate paid is the one in effect in the province or territory where the vehicle is registered.

If a privately owned vehicle is used for travel that would normally be by air, the judge may claim the lesser of the lowest cost economy airfare, or the kilometric rate allowance plus reasonable meal and accommodation expenses incurred.

Parking costs and road tolls incurred in the use of a vehicle may be claimed.

Accommodation

Judges in travel status may claim the cost of a standard room at the hotel of their choice, commencing the day before a Court sitting, up to and including the last day, absent any special circumstances justifying an exception.

The maximum rate that may be reimbursed for a hotel room is $225.00 per night (excluding taxes). In large cities, where rates are higher, the maximum is $329.00 per night. Judges should request the special government or lowest rate offered by the hotel.

Because of special events in some cities at certain times of the year, the above rates may not always be available. In such circumstances, judges should inform the Registrar in advance of booking to obtain authorization of hotel costs greater than $329.00 per night. In such cases, judges will be asked to provide quotes from three other hotel establishments in order to explain the higher rate.

Judges in travel status who stay in private accommodations belonging to third parties instead of a hotel may be reimbursed in the amount of $50.00 per day.

Meals

Judges in travel status may claim their actual and reasonable meal expenses, excluding alcoholic beverages, based on the provision of receipts. Alternatively, they may claim a per diem for meals broken down as follows: $20.00 for breakfast, $25.00 for lunch, and $50.00 for dinner. If some meals are provided, the amount of the per diem that may be claimed for meals that are provided or are included with travel or accommodation will be reduced as follows: $20.00 for breakfast; $25.00 for lunch and $50.00 for dinner. In addition to the per diem for meals, a $20.00 per diem for incidentals may be claimed for each day of travel.

Other expenses

The following may not be completely exhaustive but are the most common types of other expenses that may be reimbursed. Judges should contact the Registrar if they wish to claim expenses not mentioned below.

Child Care Assistance

A judge in travel status who is required to be absent from home overnight, and who has sole responsibility for dependants under 18 years of age who reside with the judge, may claim necessary child care expenses incurred for each night of absence.

Internet

Judges in travel status may claim hotel or in-flight Internet connection charges.

Dry-cleaning

Judges may claim dry-cleaning expenses while in travel status.

Credit Cards

Judges may be reimbursed the annual fee of the Judges Corporate American Express Card, or an equivalent. Judges may also claim the annual fee of an additional card, to a maximum of $150.00.

Miscellaneous

Combining personal travel and travel for Court sittings

No personal travel expense shall be reimbursed. A judge who, within Canada, combines personal travel with travel for judicial business, may claim the reasonable travel costs that would have ordinarily been incurred if travel had been direct, or the actual costs if they are lower. If the claim includes air travel, the comparison cost shall be based on the same class and type of ticket actually flown, purchased at the same time.

Claims made on this basis must be accompanied with the comparison cost as provided by the airline that clearly sets out the cost of reimbursable travel and the comparison cost if applicable. Judges are advised to discuss with the Registrar if they are unclear as to whether an expense may be claimed or if the documentation provided is sufficient.

Receipts

With the exception of the daily per diem that may be claimed by judges, all expenses claimed must be supported by an original, detailed receipt for each transaction (a credit card slip is not sufficient if it does not set out the details of the purchase/ payment). In exceptional cases where a detailed receipt is lost or otherwise unavailable, a credit card payment slip or the monthly credit card statement (or a copy of a cheque, if paid by cheque) is acceptable.

July 1 to September 30, 2020 Expenses

Total amount of expenditures reimbursed
ss. 90.08 (a)
Number of judges reimbursed
ss. 90.08 (b)
Number of judges who received a reimbursement for each class of expenses
ss. 90.08(d)
Transportation Accommodation Meals Other reasonable expenses
$0.00 0 0 0 0 0

Expenses published for one quarter are those reimbursed in that quarter. Some of the published expenses may have been incurred in a previous quarter.