Chartier v. Attorney General of Quebec, (1979) 27 N.R. 1 (SCC)

JudgeLaskin, C.J.C., Martland, Ritchie, Spence, Pigeon, Dickson, Beetz, Estey and Pratte, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court (Canada)
Case DateMay 08, 1979
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1979), 27 N.R. 1 (SCC);[1979] 3 WWR 576;9 CR (3d) 97;[1979] ACS no 56;[1979] SCJ No 56 (QL);104 DLR (3d) 321;1979 CanLII 209 (SCC);48 CCC (2d) 34;27 NR 1;1979 CanLII 17 (SCC);[1979] 2 SCR 16;[1979] 2 SCR 474;8 CR (3d) 87;45 CCC (2d) 383

Chartier v. Que. (A.G.) (1979), 27 N.R. 1 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

Chartier v. Attorney General for Quebec

Indexed As: Chartier v. Attorney General of Quebec

Supreme Court of Canada

Laskin, C.J.C., Martland, Ritchie, Spence, Pigeon, Dickson, Beetz, Estey and Pratte, JJ.

May 8, 1979.

Summary:

This case arose out of a charge of manslaughter. The plaintiff was arrested by policemen without reasonable and probable grounds. The police suppressed evidence at a coroner's hearing after which the man was charged with manslaughter. As a result of publicity following the charge of manslaughter against the plaintiff another man confessed to the crime. The plaintiff sued the Quebec Attorney General for damages for the actions of the police. The trial court dismissed the plaintiff's action. The plaintiff appealed to the Quebec Court of Appeal.

The Quebec Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff's action. The plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Supreme Court of Canada allowed the appeal, set aside the judgment of the Quebec Court of Appeal and awarded the plaintiff damages of $50,500.00. The Supreme Court of Canada stated that the conduct of the police was unpardonable and unjustifiable.

Martland, Dickson, Beetz and Pratte, JJ., dissenting, in the Supreme Court of Canada, would have limited the plaintiff's damages to $10,000.00 because there was no causal connection between the suppression of evidence by the police and the decision of the coroner's jury to charge the plaintiff with manslaughter - See paragraphs 169 to 175 and 276 to 382.

Police - Topic 5046

Actions against police - False arrest - Defence of justification - The plaintiff was arrested, detained for 30 hours and was later charged with manslaughter - The charge was withdrawn when another man confessed to the crime - The Quebec Provincial Police arrested the plaintiff without reasonable and probable grounds - The arrest was made for the purpose of intimidation - The police also improperly manoeuvred testimony at a coroner's hearing after which the man was charged with manslaughter - The Supreme Court of Canada held the Quebec Attorney General liable for the acts of the police and awarded the plaintiff damages of $50,500.00 - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that the conduct of the police was unpardonable and unjustifiable (see paragraphs 77 and 161).

Police - Topic 5101

Actions against police - Suppression of evidence - Members of the Quebec Provincial Police improperly suppressed and manoeuvred testimony at a coroner's hearing after which the plaintiff was charged with manslaughter - The charge was withdrawn when another man confessed to the crime - The Supreme Court of Canada held the Quebec Attorney General liable for the acts of the police and awarded the plaintiff damages of $50,500.00 - See paragraphs 74, 75, 157 and 158.

Crown - Topic 5146

Officials and employees - Liability of officials in tort for official acts in excess of authority - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that public officials are personally liable for acts done in their official character but in excess of their lawful authority - See paragraphs 73 and 156.

Police - Topic 3063

Powers - Powers of arrest - What constitutes reasonable and probable grounds - The Supreme Court of Canada held that a policeman did not have reasonable and probable grounds for believing that an offence had been committed where the policeman disregarded facts and evidence that would have exonerated the person arrested - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that for a policeman to have reasonable and probable grounds for believing in someone's guilt, his belief must take into account all of the available information (see paragraphs 74, 75, 157 and 158).

Coroners - Topic 1044

Powers - Warrants - Issue of warrant for arrest - The Supreme Court of Canada stated that the issue of a warrant by a coroner for the arrest of a suspect for questioning constituted an abuse of the coroner's powers (see paragraphs 69 to 73, 153 to 156, and 206 to 213).

Damage Awards - Topic 629

Torts affecting the person - False arrest - A policeman, without reasonable and probable grounds, procured the arrest of a man - The policeman also suppressed relevant evidence at a coroner's hearing after which the man was charged with manslaughter - The Supreme Court of Canada awarded the man a lump sum of $50,500.00 for general and special damages - See paragraphs 83 to 167.

Interest - Topic 5135

Interest as damages - Torts - False arrest - A man was falsely arrested and falsely charged with manslaughter as a result of unjustified police actions - The Supreme Court of Canada awarded the man a lump sum of $50,500.00 for general and special damages plus interest at 5% per annum from February 24, 1966 with an additional 3% per annum from January 1, 1972 (see paragraphs 84 to 168).

Cases Noticed:

Faber v. The Queen, 6 N.R. 1; 8 N.R. 29; [1976] 2 S.C.R. 9, refd to. [paras. 72 and 156].

Landreville v. City of Boucherville, 22 N.R. 407; [1978] 2 S.C.R. 801, refd to. [paras. 72 and 156].

Lamb v. Benoît, [1959] S.C.R. 321, refd to. [paras. 73 and 157].

National Harbours Board v. Langelier, [1969] S.C.R. 60, refd to. [paras. 73 and 157].

Strasbourg v. Lavergne, [1956] Q.B. 189, refd to. [paras. 211 and 318].

Chaput v. Romain, [1955] S.C.R. 834, refd to. [paras. 213 and 320].

Martel v. Hôtel-Dieu St. Vallier, [1969] S.C.R. 745, refd to. [paras. 242 and 349].

Statutes Noticed:

Criminal Code of Canada, R.S.C. 1970, c. C-34, sect. 435 [paras. 74 and 158]; sect. 448, sect. 455.3 [paras. 70 and 154].

Coroners' Act, R.S.Q. 1964, c. 29, sect. 38 [paras. 192 and 299].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Dictionnaire de la langue française au Canada [paras. 18 and 102].

Dicey, The Law of the Constitution (10th Ed.), page 193 [paras. 73 and 157].

Mazeaud and Tunc, Responsabilité civile delictuelle et contractuelle (6th Ed.), t. 1, No. 439, p. 504 [paras. 207 and 314].

Aubry and Rau, Droit civil françcais (7th Ed.), t. 6, p. 527 [paras. 208 and 315].

Planiol, Traité élémentaire de droit civil (llth Ed.), t. 2, No. 865(a) [paras. 209 and 316].

Planiol and Ripert, Traité pratique de droit civil français (2nd Ed.), t. 6, No. 560, p. 777 [paras. 215 and 322].

Mazeaud and Tunc, Responsabilité civile delictuelle et contractuelle, No. 497, pp. 559 and 560 [paras. 215 and 322].

Demogue, Des obligations en général, t. 3, No. 320, p. 517 [paras. 215 and 322].

Aubry and Rau, Droit civil français, No. 362, pp. 538 and 539 [paras. 215 and 322].

Mazeaud and Mazeaud, Traité théorique et pratique de la responsabilité civile délictuelle et contractuelle, (6th Ed.), t. 2, No. 1417, p. 516 [paras. 241 and 348].

Mazeaud and Mazeaud, Leçons de droit civil, t. 2 (5th Ed.), vol. 1, No. 566, p. 578 [paras. 267 and 374].

Counsel:

Lawrence Corriveau, Q.C., for the appellant;

Marcel Guilbault, Q.C., for the respondent.

This appeal was heard by LASKIN, C.J.C., MARTLAND, RITCHIE, SPENCE, PIGEON, DICKSON, BEETZ, ESTEY and PRATTE, JJ. of the Supreme Court of Canada at Ottawa, Ontario on February 21, 1978.

The judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered on May 8, 1979 and the following opinions were filed:

PIGEON, J. - see paragraphs 1 to 84 (English language judgment) and paragraphs 85 to 168 (French language judgment).

PRATTE, J., dissenting - see paragraphs 169 to 275 (English language judgment) and paragraphs 276 to 382 (French language judgment).

BEETZ, J., dissenting - see paragraph 383 (English language) and paragraph 384 (French language).

LASKIN, C.J.C, RITCHIE, SPENCE and ESTEY, JJ. concurred with PIGEON, J.

MARTLAND and DICKSON, JJ. concurred with PRATTE, J.

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