Names and Claims: Recent Changes To The Alberta Court Of Justice, Formerly The Provincial Court Of Alberta


The civil division of Alberta’s provincial court is an important institution for the administration of justice in the province. This Court is designed to act as the small claims court and can handle most civil claims under a certain monetary amount.

In the past few months, the Alberta government has begun to roll out two significant changes to the provincial court: a new name and an increased monetary limit. These changes will impact lawyers’ and litigants’ interactions with the court and will have a significant impact on the administration of justice in the province. 

Name Change

On April 1, 2023, the Provincial Court of Alberta formally changed its name to the “Alberta Court of Justice.” Judges are now to be referred to as “Justices” within court proceedings and written correspondence.

Chief Justice D.G. Redman has issued a practice directive that indicates that filed materials should reflect these changes. However, for a reasonable grace period, the ACJ will continue to accept materials for filing that use the previous name and titles.

Increased monetary limit

The most influential change to the ACJ is the increase to the monetary limit. On December 15, 2022, the Justice Statutes Amendment Act came into force and amended the Provincial Court Act.

The change allows the Alberta government to increase the dollar value of claims that can come before the ACJ from $50,000 to $200,000. The Alberta government has indicated that the new monetary limit will be $100,000. This change will take effect on August 1, 2023.

The new monetary limit is significant for two reasons.

First, the monetary limit is one of the factors that governs the ACJ’s jurisdiction, which influences the administration of justice throughout the entire province.

The ACJ is a statutory court, which means that it only has jurisdiction over the types of disputes that the Alberta government expressly states in the Provincial Court Act.  Prior to the change, anyone with a claim over $50,000 either (1) had to proceed in the Alberta Court of King’s Bench or (2) abandon the portion of their claim that was above and beyond $50,000.

As a result, the increased monetary limit gives the ACJ a much broader jurisdiction over civil claims in the province.

It is also important to note that the change to the Provincial Court Act allows the government to implement further increases with relative ease. As mentioned above, the legislation now states that the monetary limit is $200,000. The government is at the liberty to increase the limit from $100,000 to a higher amount without needing to introduce a bill and follow a lengthy legislative process. This means that the ACJ’s jurisdiction could be expanded again without changes to the legislation.

Second, the increased monetary limit may enhance access to justice. However, it may also have a negative impact on the current efficiency of the ACJ.

The ACJ is designed to be more efficient and cost-effective when compared to the Court of King’s Bench. For example, the Court of King’s Bench has a lengthy disclosure process that could take years depending on the claim. The ACJ aims to resolve disputes between parties by quickly bringing them before a mediator or a judge to attempt to settle the dispute and address any procedural issues. If the dispute cannot be settled, a trial will typically be scheduled within months.

In addition, the Court of King’s Bench only allows litigants to self-represent in their personal capacity. This means that businesses cannot appear before the Court of King’s Bench without a lawyer. In contrast, the ACJ allows anyone to appear as an agent for a party in the dispute. An agent could be a director, shareholder, friend, or family member.

By increasing the monetary limit more litigants will be able to use the ACJ’s expedited process and self-represent themselves or their business.

In theory, the increased monetary limit could enhance access to justice in Alberta. But this will only be possible if the increased number of claims brought before the ACJ does not overload the already limited judicial resources. Even though the ACJ’s processes are indeed faster than those of the Court of King’s Bench, the litigation process is still lengthy and costly. Increasing the monetary limit will certainly lead to many more claims being brought before the ACJ with unknown effects.


The recent changes to the ACJ will have a significant impact on the administration of justice in the province. The name change to the ACJ and the use of the title “Justice” is a subtle but notable shift in formalities. The increased monetary limit is more significant and will likely have a more tangible impact on access to justice in Alberta. The increased limit will give the ACJ a much broader jurisdiction over civil claims in the province, which may enhance access to justice. However, it may also have a negative impact on the current efficiency of the ACJ. The true impact of the increased monetary limit is yet to be seen.

If you or your business is looking for assistance in navigating the shifting litigation system in Alberta, please contact our litigation team.

This post is meant to provide information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. Although every effort has been made to provide current and accurate information, changes to the law may cause the information in this post to be outdated.


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