R. v. Pierce Fisheries Ltd., (1970) 3 N.S.R. 1965-69 1 (SCC)

JudgeSpence, Pigeon, JJ.
CourtSupreme Court of Canada
Case DateJune 26, 1970
JurisdictionCanada (Federal)
Citations(1970), 3 N.S.R. 1965-69 1 (SCC)

R. v. Pierce Fisheries Ltd. (1970), 3 N.S.R. 1965-69 1 (SCC)

MLB headnote

R. v. Pierce Fisheries Ltd.

Indexed As: R. v. Pierce Fisheries Ltd.

Supreme Court of Canada

Cartwright, C.J.C., Fauteux, Abbott,

Martland, Judson, Ritchie, Hall,

Spence, Pigeon, JJ.

June 26, 1970.

Summary:

This appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada arose out of an appeal by way of stated case from a decision of Judge C. Roger Rand, Q.C., of the Nova Scotia Provincial Magistrate's Court. Judge Rand acquitted a company which was charged with possession of undersized lobsters. The company was a dealer in lobsters and purchased large quantities in the course of its business. Judge Rand asked the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal whether he was correct when he held that mens rea was an essential element to be proved on a charge of possession of undersized lobsters. See paragraph 58 for a definition of the length of an undersized lobster. The Court of Appeal stated that mens rea was an essential element to be proved by the prosecution. The Supreme Court of Canada allowed the appeal and stated that mens rea was not an essential element to be proved on a charge of possession of undersized lobsters. The judgment of the Court of Appeal is set out below immediately following the judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Supreme Court of Canada ordered that the case be remitted to the Provincial Magistrate's Court.

Cartwright, C.J.C., dissenting, would have dismissed the appeal from the judgment of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. Cartwright, C.J.C., stated that the offence charged was criminal in nature and that knowledge and a guilty mind are essential elements in proving the offence - see paragraphs 44 and 48.

The Supreme Court of Canada stated that while there is a presumption that mens rea is an essential ingredient of all cases that are criminal in nature, there is a wide category of offences created by statutes enacted for the general welfare of the public which are not subject to any such presumption. The Supreme Court of Canada after interpreting the words of the Fisheries Act and the Lobster Fishery Regulations concluded that the offence charged was not criminal in nature and accordingly not subject to any such presumption - see paragraph 12. The Supreme Court of Canada interpreted the language of the relevant regulation creating the offence and noted that it contained no words such as "knowingly" or "wilfully" or "with intent" or "without lawful excuse" - see paragraph 14.

Criminal Law - Topic 37

General principles - Mens rea - Whether mens rea is an element to be proved on a charge of possession of undersized lobsters - Supreme Court of Canada held that the offence is not criminal in nature and stated that knowledge is not an essential element required to be proved by the prosecution.

Fish and Game - Topic 1700

Legislation and offences - Illegal possession of undersized lobsters - Whether knowledge by the management personnel of the defendant company is an essential element of the offence - Whether proof of possession results in strict liability - Supreme Court of Canada held that the offence charged was one of strict liability and that knowledge is not an essential element to be proved by the prosecution.

Words and Phrases

Lawful excuse - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the meaning of the words "lawful excuse" as found in ss. 2(g) and 18 of the Fisheries Act, R.S.C. 1952, c. 194 - Paragraphs 17 and 18.

Words and Phrases

Possession - The Supreme Court of Canada discussed the meaning of the word "possession" as found in s. 3(1)(b) of the Lobster Fishery Regulations, S.O.R. 63-745 - Paragraphs 78 to 80.

Cases Noticed:

Cundy v. LeCocq, 13 Q.B.D. 207, appld.

Sherras v. De Rutzen, [1895] 1 Q.B. 918, folld.

Proudman v. Dayman, 67 C.L.R. 536, folld.

R. v. The King, [1962] S.C.R. 746, folld.

Sweet v. Parsley, [1969] 2 W.L.R. 470, folld.

Beaver v. The Queen, [1957] S.C.R. 531, dist.

Reg. v. Woodrow, 153 E.R. 907, folld.

R. v. Pee-Kay Smallwares Ltd. (1947), 90 C.C.C. 129, folld.

The Company of Proprietors of the Margate Pier v. Hannam et al. (1819), 3 B. & Ald. 266, folld.

Harding v. Price, [1948] 1 All E.R. 283, folld.

R. v. Curley (1953), 16 C.R. 419; 106 C.C.C. 125, folld.

Watts and Gaunt v. The Queen, [1953] 1 S.C.R. 505; 105 C.C.C. 193, folld.

Brend v. Wood (1946), 62 T.L.R. 462, folld.

R. v. Jollimore (1962), 46 M.P.R. 283, folld.

R. v. V.K. Mason Construction Ltd., [1968] 1 O.R. 399, folld.

R. v. Woodrow (1846), 153 E.R. 907, folld.

R. v. Ashwell (1885), 16 Q.B.D. 190, folld.

R. v. Cushman (1949), 7 C.R. 291, folld.

R. v. Hess (1948), 94 C.C.C. 48, folld.

R. v. Lee Duck, [1920] 1 W.W.R. 1051, folld.

The King ex rel. Hammond v. Cappan (1920), 51 D.L.R. 672, folld.

McCarthy v. Caldair, [1951] 2 T.L.R. 1226, folld.

R. v. Binus, [1966] 4 C.C.C. 193, folld.

Statutes Noticed:

Fisheries Act, R.S.C. 1952, c. 194, sect. 2(g), sect. 18, sect. 34.

Lobster Fishery Regulations, S.O.R. 63-745, sect. 3(1)(b).

Counsel:

J.A. Scollin, Q.C., for the appellant;

G.T.H. Cooper, for the respondent.

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