New Practice Directions to Reduce Delay in Criminal Proceedings
October 24, 2023
Effective November 1, 2023, the Ontario Court of Justice is implementing three new practice directions aimed at reducing delay and unnecessary administrative appearances in criminal proceedings.
This practice direction 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 will offer the parties a trial date that is expected to result in the case being completed within 15 months of the Information sworn date. To facilitate this, parties will be expected to have completed all intake (case management) steps and be ready to resolve the case or schedule a trial or preliminary inquiry within six months of the Information sworn date. These procedures apply, with some modifications, to criminal cases that are already in the system as of November 1, 2023.
This new practice direction is intended to provide for fair, timely and efficient determination of s. 11(b) Charter applications.This includes hearing the application 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. To facilitate scheduling, the defence is required to advise, at the time a trial date is set, whether it intends to bring a s. 11(b) application; if a trial is scheduled more than 18 months from the Information sworn date, a s. 11(b) application will be scheduled unless the defence confirms on the record they are not bringing it.
Rule s. 2.4(3) of the Criminal Rules of the Ontario Court of Justice has been amended to reflect the authority of a case management judge to determine s. 11(b) applications.
This practice direction, which will be implemented 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, the Crown and defence counsel should have completed the intake (case management) steps and be ready to resolve the case or set a trial or preliminary inquiry date. 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.
Paragraph 47 of the Enhanced Designations of Counsel Practice Direction has been amended to clarify that the Enhanced Designation may be filed prior to an accused person’s first or second appearance in case management court.