Ontario court issues new directives to reduce delay in criminal proceedings

By Terry Davidson

Law360 Canada (October 31, 2023, 2:58 PM EDT) -- Ontario’s Court of Justice is issuing new practice directives in a bid to reduce delay and “unnecessary administrative appearances” in criminal proceedings.

The three new rules, which take hold Nov. 1, will involve the setting of trial dates in accordance with Jordan principles, the timely handling of s. 11 Charter applications and the enforcement of set adjournments for case management.

According to an announcement from the court, the first “commits the Court to offering a criminal trial date that complies with the obligations set out in R. v. Jordan to ensure an accused person’s constitutional right to a trial within a reasonable time is respected.”

The court, it states, will offer parties a trial date “that is expected to result in the case being completed within 15 months of the Information sworn date.”

Parties will have been expected to have completed all intake steps involved with case management and be ready to either resolve the case or schedule a trial or preliminary hearing within six months of the information sworn date.

The Jordan rules come from the landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Jordan, 2016 SCC 27, which sets time limits on criminal court proceedings in a bid to address unwarranted and unconstitutional delay. 

The second directive sees to it that the determination of s. 11 Charter applications is done in a timely way. Under this new rule, the hearing of an application must take place “at least four months before trial so that, if the application is granted and a stay of proceedings is imposed, the scheduled trial dates may be utilized for other matters.”

Among other things, s. 11 deals with the right to a timely trial and the protection of unreasonable delay in criminal matters.

The third, which applies only to courts in Toronto and Brampton, “establishes a standard 12-week adjournment for matters in which counsel is retained at an accused person’s first or second appearance in case management court.”

By the end of this adjournment period, both the defence and Crown should have finished the case management steps and be either ready to resolve the case or set a date for trial or preliminary inquiry.

“Reducing administrative appearances for counsel matters will shorten case management court dockets and permit the Court to spend more time addressing those matters which require more active case management,” states the announcement.  

Additional details on the new directives can be found in the announcement.  

If you have any information, story ideas or news tips for Law360 Canada, please contact Terry Davidson at t.davidson@lexisnexis.ca or 905-415-5899.

LexisNexis® Research Solutions