FREDERICTON (GNB) – Six hearing officers have been hired to improve New Brunswickers access to the judicial system.

They will serve as Emergency Adjudicative Officers, Small Claims Adjudicators and Family Case Management Masters. Two will be based in Moncton, two in Saint John and one each in Bathurst and Miramichi. The recruitment process for hearing officers in Edmundston and Fredericton will be completed in the coming months.

“We are pleased to count on the expertise of these new hearing officers to provide important services for New Brunswickers”, said Justice and Public Safety Minister, Denis Landry. “The tasks they will be fulfilling are crucial for families, individuals and particularly victims of violence that require assistance to enhance protection.”

The new officers are:

  • Chief Hearing Officer Donald Boudreau, Bathurst;
  • Hearing Officer Matthew Cripps, Miramichi;
  • Hearing Officer Diane Deschênes, Moncton;
  • Hearing Officer Brian Maude, Saint John;
  • Hearing Officer Tammy Moore, Saint John; and
  • Hearing Officer Anne Richard, Moncton.

Under provisions of the Intimate Partner Violence Intervention Act, which was proclaimed today, they will have the authority to act as Emergency Adjudicative Officers. As such, they will be the quasi-judicial officer responsible for conducting Intimate Partner Violence Emergency Intervention Order hearings. Applications will be made on an ex parte basis and may be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The officers will be required to conduct the hearing when the application is submitted. Hearings will be conducted over the phone and will require reviewing the applications with the applicant and making a determination on whether to grant an order within a short period of time.

In their role as Family Case Management Masters, they will be responsible for: conducting case conference hearings, making interim orders related to custody, access and/or support matters under the Family Services Act and the Divorce Act, assisting parties in clarifying their claims, positions and interests; offering non-binding opinions of potential outcomes based on the facts of the case; preparing and issuing pre-trial disclosure directions and orders pursuant to the Rules of Court; and conducting administrative enforcement hearings under the Support Enforcement Act.

In their role as Small Claims Adjudicators, under the Small Claims Act, they will hear and determine in a summary way all questions of law and fact and may make any decision or order that they consider just and reasonable in the circumstances.

Hearing officers will be assigned to a primary judicial district, but they will have the authority to sit in any location around the province in order to cover off vacations, leaves and conflict of interests.

The role of the chief hearing officer was established in order to provide administrative oversight. He has been appointed as a full hearing officer along with extra duties including: maintaining the schedule for on-call shifts, approving leave requests and travel expenses and co-ordinating coverage.

Hearing officers are required to be lawyers in good standing with the Law Society of New Brunswick with a minimum of 10 years related progressive experience. They are also required to have a good working knowledge of family law, a broad knowledge of the Rules of Court and familiarity with intimate partner violence protocols.