This week at the SCC

This week, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear six appeals. The first three are criminal cases relating to search and seizure and reasonable grounds for arrest. The court is also hearing a case involving solicitor-client privilege in Quebec, as well as a curious tax case where the authority increased its own assessment after a taxpayer appeal.

supreme court of canadaMarch 21 – Ontario – Wu. v. R.

Charter of Rights: The appellant was charged with drug-related criminal activity. Charges were dropped after the trial judge found the detective investigating the case had no objectively reasonable grounds to request a search warrant. The appeal court set aside the decision and ordered a new trial. The SCC will determine, in an oral hearing, whether there were reasonable grounds to arrest and charge the appellant.

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Read the Ontario Court of Appeal decision

Related news story:
Botched case highlights need for JPs to have legal training, Toronto Star

March 21 – Alberta – R. v. Villaroman

Criminal law: The respondent brought his computer into a repair shop, where a technician stumbled upon child pornography hidden in a music folder. The technician called the police, who got a search warrant to inspect the machine. The respondent argued at trial that his right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure had been violated. The trial judge rejected that argument, but the appeal court quashed the conviction. The SCC will determine whether Charter protections are applicable in such circumstances.

Read the Alberta Court of Appeal decision

Related blog post:
Mere existence of illegal content on a portable device is insufficient to ground a conviction for possession, Canadian IT Law Association

March 22 – Alberta – Alcantara v. R. and Knapczyk v. R.

Criminal law: The appellants were involved with the Hells Angels. They provided protection for a cocaine distribution business. At trial, the appellants successfully argued that their role did not involve the trafficking of cocaine. The appeal court substituted the acquittal for convictions in both cases. The SCC will review whether the appeal court erred in conflating the appellants’ activities with drug trafficking.

Read the Alberta appeal court decision

March 23 – Alberta – Edmonton v. Capilano Shopping Centres

Administrative law: When the Capilano Shopping Centre was assessed, for property tax purposes, at $31.3 million, it appealed to the Assessment Review Board for the City of Edmonton. Beyond merely rejecting the appeal, the review board’s assessor used vague language in the Municipal Government Act to increase the assessment to $40.8 million. On appeal, the court found the review board could only consider the appeal before it, and could not “cross-appeal” its own assessment. The SCC will provide interpretive clarity to the act.

Read the Alberta appeal court decision

Related blog post:
The return of context in the standard of review analysis, University of Montreal

March 24 – Quebec – Chambre de l’assurance de dommages v. Aviva Insurance

Legislation: The appellant is a regulator in Quebec that was pursuing an ethics inquiry against a claims adjuster working for the respondent. As part of its investigation, the regulator demanded certain documents that were withheld by the claims adjuster due to solicitor-client privilege. On appeal, the court rejected the regulator’s assertion that solicitor-client privilege, which serves private interests, cannot be used to stifle an inquiry with public interests at stake. The SCC will determine whether the relevant provincial legislation affords solicitor-client privilege.

Read the Quebec Court of Appeal decision

Related blog post:
Litigation privilege given same protection as solicitor-client privilege, Law in Quebec

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