Nelles v. Ontario et al., (1989) 98 N.R. 321 (SCC)

JudgeDickson, C.J.C., Beetz, Estey, McIntyre, Lamer, Wilson, Le Dain, La Forest and L'Heureux-Dubé, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court of Canada
Case DateAugust 14, 1989
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1989), 98 N.R. 321 (SCC);98 NR 321;41 Admin LR 1;EYB 1989-67463;[1989] 2 SCR 170;42 CRR 1;[1989] ACS no 86;37 CPC (2d) 1;49 CCLT 217;16 ACWS (3d) 318;69 OR (2d) 448;JE 89-1206;71 CR (3d) 358;1989 CanLII 77 (SCC);[1989] CarswellOnt 415;60 DLR (4th) 609;[1989] SCJ No 86 (QL);35 OAC 161

Nelles v. Ont. (1989), 98 N.R. 321 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

[French language version follows English language version]

[La version française vient à la suite de la version anglaise]

.........................

Susan Nelles v. Her Majesty The Queen In Right of Ontario, Attorney General for Ontario, John W. Ackroyd, James Crawford, Jack Press and Anthony Warr

(19598)

Indexed As: Nelles v. Ontario et al.

Supreme Court of Canada

Dickson, C.J.C., Beetz, Estey, McIntyre, Lamer, Wilson, Le Dain, La Forest and L'Heureux-Dubé, JJ.

August 14, 1989.

Summary:

The accused was charged with four counts of first degree murder. After a lengthy preliminary inquiry the presiding judge discharged the accused on all four counts on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to commit the accused for trial. The accused then brought an action against the Crown, the Attorney General, the Chief of Police and three police officers for negligence, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment and the infringement of her rights under ss. 7, 11(c) and 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The accused claimed general, special, punitive, and aggravated damages, plus prejudgment interest and solicitor and client costs. The Ontario Supreme Court dismissed the action against the Crown and the Attorney General. The accused appealed.

The Ontario Court of Appeal, in a judgment reported 10 O.A.C. 161; 51 O.R.(2d) 513; 21 D.L.R.(4th) 103; 16 C.R.R. 320; 1 C.P.C.(2d) 113, dismissed the appeal and held that the Crown and the Attorney General were immune from suit for malicious prosecution. The accused appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada (L'Heureux-Dubé, J., dissenting) allowed the appeal in part and held that although the Crown was immune from suit, the Attorney General and Crown prosecutors were not.

Barristers and Solicitors - Topic 1802

The prosecutor - Role of - The Supreme Court of Canada described the role of the Attorney General and Crown prosecutors in the criminal process - See paragraphs 38 to 41.

Civil Rights - Topic 8367

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Denial of rights - Remedies - General - [See Civil Rights - Topic 8380 below].

Civil Rights - Topic 8380

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Denial of rights - Remedies - Status or standing - The Supreme Court of Canada in ruling that the Attorney General and Crown prosecutors are not immune to an action for malicious prosecution held that the absolute immunity of the Attorney General and Crown prosecutors would effectively bar the right of a maliciously prosecuted person to seek a remedy for denial of Charter rights under s. 24(1) of the Charter - The court stated that "where a person can demonstrate that one of his Charter rights has been infringed, access to a court of competent jurisdiction to seek a remedy is essential for the vindication of a constitutional wrong. To create a right without a remedy is antithetical to one of the purposes of the Charter, which surely is to allow courts to fashion remedies when constitutional infringements occur." - See paragraph 50.

Courts - Topic 102

Stare decisis - Authority of judicial decisions - English and American decisions - English decisions - The Supreme Court of Canada in ruling that the Attorney General could be sued for malicious prosecution considered American and English authority.

Courts - Topic 103

Stare decisis - Authority of judicial decisions - English and American decisions - American decisions - [See Courts - Topic 102 above].

Criminal Law - Topic 22

Prosecution of crime - Function of Crown prosecutor and Attorney General - [See Barristers and Solicitors - Topic 1802 above].

Criminal Law - Topic 5792

Punishments (sentence) - Restitution - When appropriate - The Supreme Court of Canada held that restitution or reparations to a crime victim under s. 737(2)(e) of the Criminal Code may be ordered only when damages are relatively concrete and ascertainable - See paragraph 53.

Crown - Topic 607

Attorney General - Criminal proceedings - General - Judicial functions - A judge of the Supreme Court of Canada stated that "the judicial nature of the Attorney General's decision to prosecute does not in any way render him a 'court', that is, an adjudicative entity" - See paragraph 76.

Crown - Topic 607

Attorney General - Criminal proceedings - Role - [See Barristers and Solicitors - Topic 1802 above].

Crown - Topic 2803

Crown immunity - Immunity under provincial legislation - Action for malicious prosecution - [See Crown - Topic 2844 below].

Crown - Topic 2844

Crown immunity - Agents - Scope of - Action for malicious prosecution - The Supreme Court of Canada held that the provincial Crown is immune from an action for malicious prosecution, but the Ontario Attorney General and his Crown attorneys are not.

Crown - Topic 4542

Actions by and against Crown in right of a province - Capacity of Crown to be sued - Immunity - General - Action for malicious prosecution - [See Crown - Topic 2844 above].

Crown - Topic 4941

Actions against Attorney General - Malicious prosecution - General - [See Crown - Topic 2844 above].

Practice - Topic 5261

Trials - Trial of preliminary issues - Issues of law - After murder charges against her were dismissed after a preliminary inquiry the plaintiff brought an action for damages for malicious prosecution against the Attorney General, who applied to strike the statement of claim on the ground that he was immune from suit for malicious prosecution - The Supreme Court of Canada in ruling that the Attorney General was not immune from an action for malicious prosecution stated that the issue was one which should properly be determined before trial under rules 124 or 126 of the Ontario Rules of Practice - See paragraphs 1 to 4, 86 to 89.

Torts - Topic 6152

Abuse of legal procedure - Malicious prosecution - Elements of - The Supreme Court of Canada set out the elements of malicious prosecution - See paragraphs 42 to 47.

Torts - Topic 6163

Abuse of legal procedure - Malicious prosecution - Persons liable - Attorney General and Crown prosecutors - [See Crown - Topic 2844 above].

Cases Noticed:

Imbler v. Pachtman (1976), 424 U.S. 409, not folld. [para. 8].

Owsley v. Ontario (1983), 34 C.P.C. 96, not folld. [paras. 8, 60, 71].

Richman v. McMurtry (1983), 41 O.R.(2d) 559, not folld. [paras. 8, 60, 71].

Levesque v. Picard (1985), 66 N.B.R.(2d) 87; 169 A.P.R. 87, consd. [paras. 9, 71].

Curry v. Dargie (1984), 62 N.S.R.(2d) 416; 136 A.P.R. 416; 28 C.C.L.T. 93 (C.A.), consd. [paras. 9, 66, 71].

German v. Major (1985), 39 Alta. L.R.(2d) 270; 62 A.R. 2, consd. [paras. 10, 52, 71, 74].

Gregoire v. Biddle, (1949), 177 F. 2d 579 (2d Cir.), consd. [paras. 17, 72, 91].

Wilkinson v. Ellis (1980), 484 F. Supp. 1072 (E.D. Pa.), consd. [para. 27].

Marrero v. City of Hialeah (1980), 625 F. 2d 499 (5th Cir.), consd. [para. 28].

Taylor v. Kavanagh (1981), 640 F. 2d 450 (2d Cir.), consd. [para. 29].

Riches v. Director of Public Prosecutions, [1973] 2 All E.R. 935 (C.A.), consd. [paras. 32, 73].

Hester v. MacDonald, [1961] S.C. 370, consd. [para. 34].

Boucher v. R., [1955] S.C.R. 16, appld. [para. 39].

Hicks v. Faulkner (1878), 8 Q.B.D. 167, appld. [para. 43].

Mitchell v. John Heine and Son Ltd. (1938), 38 S.R. (N.S.W.) 466, consd. [para. 47].

Nelles v. Ontario (1985), 51 O.R.(2d) 513; 10 O.A.C. 161; 21 D.L.R.(4th) 103; 16 C.R.R. 320; 1 C.P.C.(2d) 113 (Ont. C.A.), refd to. [para. 48].

Bosada v. Pinos (1985), 44 O.R.(2d) 789 (H.C.), consd. [paras. 48, 71].

R. v. Groves (1977), 37 C.C.C.(2d) 429 (Ont. H.C.), consd. [para. 53].

R. v. Comptroller General of Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks, [1899] 1 Q.B. 909 (C.A.), consd. [paras. 65, 75].

Roncarelli v. Duplessis, [1959] S.C.R. 121, consd. [para. 67].

Mostyn v. Fabrigas (1774), 1 Cowp. 161; 98 E.R. 1021, consd. [paras. 68, 77].

77].

Henly v. Major of Lyme (1828), 5 Bing. 91; 130 E.R. 995, refd to. [para. 68].

Asoka Kumar David v. Abdul Cader, [1963] 3 All E.R. 579 (P.C.), consd. [para. 69].

Unterreiner v. Wilson (1982), 40 O.R.(2d) 197 (H.C.), refd to. [para. 71].

Warne v. Nova Scotia (1969), 1 N.S.R.(2d) 27 (T.D.), consd. [para. 74].

Van Gelder's Patent, Re (1888), 6 R.P.C. 22 (C.A.), consd. [para. 76].

Morier v. Rivard, [1985] 2 S.C.R. 716; 64 N.R. 46, consd. [paras. 77, 87].

Yaselli v. Goff (1926), 12 F. 2d 396 (2d Cir.), consd. [para. 94].

Statutes Noticed:

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, sect. 24(1) [para. 50].

Code of Civil Procedure, R.S.Q. 1977, c. C-25, sect. 94 [para. 12].

Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, sect. 122, sect. 139(2), sect. 139(3), sect. 465(1)(b) [para. 45]; sect. 504 [para. 67]; sect. 737 [para. 53].

Crown Attorneys Act, R.S.O. 1980, c. 107 [para. 67].

Ministry of the Attorney General Act, R.S.O. 1980, c. 271 [para. 67].

Proceedings Against the Crown Act, R.S.O. 1980, c. 393, sect. 2(2)(d) [para. 64]; sect. 5(6) [paras. 5, 64].

Rules of Civil Procedure (Ont.), rule 1.04(1) [para. 4]; rule 20, rule 21.01 [para. 52].

Rules of Practice, R.R.O. 1970, rule 124, rule 126 [paras. 1, 59].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Beliveau, Pierre and Jacques Bellemare and Jean-Pierre Lussier, On Criminal Procedure, translated by J. Muskatel, Cowansville: Éditions Yvon Blais Inc. (1982), pp. 69-83 [para. 40].

Edwards, John L1. J., The Attorney General, Politics and the Public Interest, (1984) [para. 35].

Filosa, John, C., Prosecutorial Immunity: No Place for Absolutes, [1983] U. Ill. L. Rev. 977, pp. 980-981 [para. 24]; 982 [para. 49]; 985-986 [para. 23].

Fleming, John, G., The Law of Torts (5th Ed. 1977), pp. 598 [para. 42]; 606 [para. 47]; 609 [para. 45].

Luppino, Anthony, J., Supplementing the Functional Test of Prosecutorial Immunity (1982), 34 Stan. L. Rev. 487, pp. 493-494 [para. 22]; 505 [para. 30].

Manning, Morris, Abuse of Power by Crown Attorneys, [1979] L.S.U.C. Lectures 571, pp. 580 [para. 39]; 586-608 [para. 40].

Note, Delimiting the Scope of Prosecutorial Immunity from Section 1983 Damage Suits (1977), 52 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 173, pp. 190-191 [para. 26].

Pilkington, Marilyn, L., Damages as a Remedy for Infringement of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1984), 62 Can. Bar Rev. 517, pp. 560-561 [para. 49].

Counsel:

John Sopinka, Q.C., and David Brown, for the appellant, Nelles;

T.C. Marshall, Q.C., and L.A. Hunter, for the respondents.

Solicitors of Record:

Stikeman, Elliott, Toronto, Ontario, for the appellant;

R.F. Chaloner, Toronto, Ontario, for the respondents.

This case was heard on February 29, 1988, at Ottawa, Ontario, before Dickson, C.J.C., Beetz, Estey, McIntyre, Lamer, Wilson, Le Dain, La Forest and L'Heureux-Dubé, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On August 14, 1989, the judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada was delivered in both official languages and the following opinions were filed:

Lamer, J. (Dickson, C.J.C., and Wilson, J., concurring) - see paragraphs 1 to 56;

McIntyre, J. - see paragraphs 57 to 80;

La Forest, J. - see paragraph 81;

L'Heureux-Dubé, J., dissenting - see paragraphs 82 to 96.

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