Court marks 100th birthday

B.C. Appeal justices attend special sitting in heritage court

The B.C. Court of Appeal marked its 100th anniversary yesterday by returning to its roots.

Twenty of the court's 23 justices attended a special anniversary sitting of the court in downtown Victoria. The event took place at the Maritime Museum's heritage court, where the province's first chief justice, Matthew Baillie Begbie, presided over trials from 1871 until his death in 1894.

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The Court of Appeal is the province's highest court and hears appeals from the Supreme Court and provincial courts.

Gary Lunn, a lawyer and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, acknowledged the court's contributions to the province.

"A century of service to the people of British Columbia is a remarkable achievement and one to be proud of," said Lunn, wearing his legal robes, as he addressed the court.

While Canadian courts are among the best in the world, there remains a chance for human error, Lunn said. The appeal court is available to overturn lower-court decisions when warranted.

Attorney General Mike de Jong said the decisions rendered by the court "have had a lasting and profound impact on the history of this province."

Yesterday morning, the justices attended Victoria high, Belmont secondary and Claremont secondary schools to field questions from students.

Later in the evening, the justices joined some of Victoria's 950 lawyers and members of the legal community for a dinner at Government House.

Other centenary special sittings of the court will take place this year in Vancouver, Prince George, Kamloops and Kelowna.

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