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R v Barabash: Resolving the Debate Surrounding the Private Use Exception

On May 22, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) in R v Barabash, 2015 SCC 29 [Barabash], unanimously concluded that a new trial was necessary since both the trial judge and majority at the Alberta Court of Appeal (“ABCA”) erred in law in their analyses of the role of exploitation in the “private use […]

R v Perrone: The Need for Appellate Courts to Address both Credibility and Reliability of a Witness

This case is concerned with the credibility and reliability of a witness, and whether or not the trial judge erred in her assessment of the complainant’s evidence and provided an unreasonable verdict. On February 19, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) dismissed the appeal of R v Perrone, 2014 MBCA 74 [Perrone] from the […]

Jury Instructions and Post-Offence Conduct: Her Majesty the Queen v Jason Rodgerson

On January 14, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada will hold a hearing for the appeal of R v Rodgerson, 2014 ONCA 366. In the criminal law context, triers of fact can use post-offence conduct as evidence of certain facts in issue. For example, the evidence of an accused fleeing from a scene of an […]

The USSC Revisits the Fraud-on-the-Market Principle: Halliburton Co v Erica P John Fund

Last Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Halliburton Co v Erica P. John Fund, thereby revisiting the contentious “fraud-on-the-market” principle adopted in the 1988 case of Basic Inc v Levinson, 485 US 224 (1988). The principle works as follows: open and developed securities markets are efficient and all relevant information about […]

How sure do police have to be of a safety risk to search? The Supreme Court clarifies in R v MacDonald

In R v MacDonald, 2014 SCC 3 [MacDonald], the Supreme Court of Canada has clarified the constitutional bounds of police searches conducted to ensure the safety of police or the public (“safety searches”). In a narrow majority (4:3), LeBel J held that safety searches do not violate section 8 of the Charter as long as […]

Oral Arguments: Professor Alan Young on Bedford

Alan Young, Osgoode Professor and lead counsel in Canada v Bedford, 2013 SCC 72 provides an overview of the litigation strategy employed in his successful challenge to three criminal code provisions related to sex work. Drawing on the lessons learned from R v Malmo-Levine; R v Caine, 2003 SCC 74, Professor Young outlines how he structured the […]

With Divided Medical Evidence in NCR Case, ONCA is Deferent to Jury: R v Downs

The not criminally responsible (“NCR”) regime is currently the subject of media and public scrutiny, with the proposed reforms of Bill C-14 (formerly C-54; Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act) in the Senate. In the recent decision of R v Downs, 2014 ONCA 20 [Downs], the Ontario Court of Appeal (“ONCA”) reviewed a case in which an […]

R v Singh: The Ontario Court of Appeal Holds that Choreographed Beatings Warrant a Stay of Conviction

The Ontario Court of Appeal has laid down a zero tolerance policy on police beating of suspects to obtain confessions. In R v Singh, 2013 ONCA 750 [Singh], the court held that a suspect’s conviction for robbery should be stayed because the police subjected him to repeated beatings during his interrogation. The trial judge dismissed the accused’s […]

Protecting One’s Right To Public Privacy Against Modern Recording Technologies: The Possible Criminal Law Implications of Alberta v Local 401

On November 15, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) released its ruling in Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner) v United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 401, [2013] 3 SCR 733 [Local 401]. The Court unanimously held that Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act,  SA 2003 c P-6.5 [PIPA] infringed the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by section […]

Departing from Higher Authority: Vertical Application of Precedent after Bedford

The ratio of a case answers the question: “what was decided?” It conveys the judicial reasoning that determines a legal issue. This reasoning synthesizes legal rules, evidence and social values. The ratio of an appellate court decision binds courts of first instance, requiring the lower court to apply the ratio to any analogous case over which they preside. “As a general […]