Nova Scotia. Supreme Court

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Nova Scotia. Supreme Court

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        Dates of existence

        1754-

        History

        The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia has its origins in the powers given to Governor Edward Cornwallis in the Commission and Royal Instructions issued in London on 6 May 1749. By that instrument, the governor was given plenary powers in judicial matters to establish courts of justice. In 1750, Cornwallis established the General Court, consisting of the Governor and Council. In 1754, the General Court was replaced by the Supreme Court, with Jonathan Belcher appointed first chief justice. During its first two decades the Supreme Court operated only at Halifax. However, between 1774 and 1816 a circuit system was established throughout the province, with individual circuit courts having all the powers of the court at Halifax. The Supreme Court began as a criminal court but soon assumed a civil jurisdiction as well. Its jurisdiction has continued to evolve over its long and complex history. The Supreme Court's procedure was codified with the passage of the Judicature Act in 1884. When acting as a court of original jurisdiction, one judge presided; as an appellate court, cases were heard by the full court sitting at Halifax. Amendments enacted in 1962, and effective in 1966, replaced this arrangement with a formally constituted Appeal Division of the Supreme Court, separated from the Trial Division, which was set up at the same time. In 1992 the Court Reform Act reconstituted the Appeal Division as a separate court - the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

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