Senate committee requests clarity on R. v. Jordan

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has asked for the Supreme Court of Canada to clarify a decision that set caps on court delays.

The senate committee has requested that the Supreme Court provide clarification on transitional provisions in R. v. Jordan, which determine whether the new framework should apply to cases that started before the decision was released in July.

In the decision, the Supreme Court set limits on the amount of time a case could take from the time a person is charged until trial. The decision implemented a limit of 30 months in superior courts and 18 months in provincial courts.

Charges must be stayed in cases that have delays that exceed these limits, except for certain exceptions. There have now been two murder charges stayed under the framework recently, prompting the senate committee’s demand for clarity.

“Although the court said the transitional provisions were intended to prevent thousands of cases already before the courts from being thrown out by applying a new standard, rather than the law that existed at the time, there have been numerous cases halted in recent weeks, including at least two murders,” the committee said in a press release.

In a recent Ontario Superior Court decision that stayed a murder charge, R. v. Picard, Justice Julianne Parfett says the transitional provisions allow for the new framework “to be applied contextually and flexibly” to older cases.

“While the new framework is relatively simple to apply, the transitional guidelines are not,” she said in the decision.

Dan Stein, a Toronto defense lawyer, says the senate committee is “jumping the gun” in its request and that it should give the higher courts a chance to clarify the law.

He says the Picard decision will likely be heard in the Ontario Court of Appeal, and could make its way up to the Supreme Court.

“The senate should give a chance to the court of appeal to analyze this and perhaps as well for the Supreme Court to revisit,” Stein says.

In an interim report on the delays in the justice system released this summer, the senate committee called on the federal government to immediately fill all judicial vacancies and to work with its provincial counterparts to develop better case management and invest in court technology.

Ontario’s provincial government recently took its own crack at tackling backlogs, by announcing a number of measures such as appointing more judges and hiring new Crown attorneys.

Free newsletter

The Canadian Legal Newswire is a FREE newsletter that keeps you up to date on news and analysis about the Canadian legal scene. A separate InHouse Edition is delivered on a regular basis, providing targeted news and information of interest to in-house counsel.

Please enter your email address below to subscribe.

Recent articles & video

Civil society groups call for protection of human rights in digital surveillance amid COVID-19

COVID-19 and the courts: April 7 update

COVID-19 and the courts: April 6 update

Competition Bureau doubles down on enforcement

The invisible woman: Women in Law Summit explores how to help women lawyers and partnership numbers

Last call for nominations: Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers

Most Read Articles

Articling during COVID-19

CRA extends income tax deadlines in light of COVID-19 crisis

Coronavirus might cause a shortage in expert witnesses and delays in medical malpractice cases

Wild animals, pets, and COVID-19