This week, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear four appeals, including a number that will have particular significance for the legal community. On Monday, the court will hear arguments on solicitor-client privilege for notaries. On Tuesday, hearings will be held on pre-sentencing credit. And on Friday, the top court will look into the SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. corruption case and whether international organizations are indeed immune from court processes.
Nov. 3 – Quebec – Attorney General of Canada v. Chambre des notaires du Québec
Charter of Rights: The Income Tax Act authorizes the minister of national revenue to require any person to provide information or documents that may assist in enforcement or administration, including advocates and notaries. An exemption for solicitor-client privilege with highly specific definitions is provided for in the act. Chambre des notaries du Québec successfully applied for a declaration that the act contravened Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The top court will review the attorney general of Canada’s appeal.
Read the Quebec Court of Appeal’s decision
Nov. 4 – Ontario – R. v. Safarzadeh-Markhali
Charter of Rights: The Crown seeks to appeal the lower court decision to strike down provisions in the Truth in Sentencing Act related to credit for time served in custody prior to sentencing. The applicant has sought a declaration that amendments envisioned under the act, which limit credit to 1:1 in specific circumstances, are in breach of the Charter. The top court will review the appeal court’s decision.
Read the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision
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Nov. 5 – Newfoundland & Labrador – Neville v. R.
Criminal Law: Steven Neville was convicted of second-degree murder and attempted murder in an incident in which he stabbed two people. At trial, the jury was instructed on the definition of concepts such as first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, aggravated assault, self-defence, and provocation. During deliberations, the jury asked whether “the legal definition of ‘to kill’ is the same as ‘to murder.’” Instead of responding directly, the trial judge referred the jury to written instructions. On appeal, a dissenting judge found that the lack of direct guidance constituted an error in law.
Read the Newfoundland & Labrador appeal court decision
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Nov. 6 – Ontario – World Bank v. Wallace
Public international law: The respondents are former employees of SNC-Lavalin who were charged with bribing a foreign public official under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act in relation to a project in Bangladesh. The World Bank had approached the RCMP and provided information about the allegations. At trial, the respondents subpoenaed employees of the World Bank and demanded that certain documents be produced. The Superior Court of Justice granted the application, but the World Bank objects on grounds that it’s an international organization and thus immune from court processes. The organization has successfully applied for an accelerated hearing at the Supreme Court. The court will review the parameters of immunity for international organizations.