A Quebec man accused of tax evasion by provincial tax authorities won an “important” legal battle after the Court of Quebec applied the landmark Jordan ruling and ordered a stay of proceedings and charges.
The timelines set by the landmark Jordan decision applies to civil cases as well.
The Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Jordan 2016 SCC 27 criticized the country’s legal system for its “culture of complacency” and sets out new rules for an accused’s right to be tried within a reasonable time frame. It laid down a ceiling of 30 months for matters before Superior Court cases to be completed. Provincial court trials should be completed within 18 months of charges being laid, but can be extended to 30 months if there is a preliminary inquiry.
Up until recently it was widely considered that the Jordan framework applied to only criminal cases.
Not so, according to two separate rulings by Quebec Superior Court.
Days after the new president of the Quebec legal society said that the landmark Jordan ruling could “do us good if we could solve the problem,” Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallée called on the federal government yet again to quickly appoint 10 new Superior Court justices in the province.
Despite significant investments over the past six months by the Quebec government to curb delays in the criminal justice system, Quebec is still struggling as the number of Jordan-related requests for a stay of proceedings keeps on surging. The Quebec Director of criminal and penal prosecutions (DPCP) revealed that there were 684 Jordan applications as of March 23, 2017, a figure that has grown to 895 as of late May.
At least 134 accused were released at the request of the Crown from July 2016 to April 24, 2017 following the Jordan ruling, revealed Annick Murphy, the head of the Director of criminal and penal prosecutions (DPCP), during testimony at a parliamentary commission before the Quebec National Assembly.
Of the 134 accused, 75 so-called nolle prosequi – or formal notice of abandonment by the prosecutor of all or part of the action – were entered after defence filed a Jordan motion. The remaining 59 were filed “voluntarily” by the DPCP, said Murphy.