Quebec appeal court broadens reach of fundamental rights for legal persons

A numbered company that was ordered by a lower court to pay the minimum fine for acting as a building contractor without holding a license won a significant legal battle appeal after the Quebec Court of Appeal held that legal persons are entitled to protection against cruel or unusual treatment or punishment within the meaning of s. 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The majority decision, bound to raise eyebrows, appears to broaden the array of fundamental rights available to legal persons, dismisses the notion that s.12 of the Charter cannot apply to legal persons, and suggests that proportionality may have more sway under the Charter than under the Ontario Provincial Offences Act in providing relief from mandatory minimum fines, according to legal experts.

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