City: Peterborough, Ontario
Our Client: Mr. M.
Charge(s): Failing to comply with the regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act
Lawyer: Dan Lemaire (a student-at-law at the time of appeal)
Case Study: failing to comply with the regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act
Mr. M. was constructing his home and hired sub-contractors to do some work. Because Mr. M. was managing the construction himself, he allegedly unwittingly assumed certain obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. As a result of improper use of scaffolding, a worker suffered serious injuries. Mr. M. was charged under the Act for non-compliance with the regulations.
At trial, Mr. Lemaire argued that Mr. M.’s right to be tried within a reasonable time as protected by section 11(b) of the Charter was violated by the lengthy period of time that it took for Mr. M. to receive trial time. The Justice of the Peace disagreed, and dismissed Mr. M.’s Charter application. As such, Mr. M. was convicted at trial and sentenced to $6,000 in fines plus a 30% statutory surcharge tax.
On appeal, the Crown argued that there had been no violation of Mr. M.’s section 11(b) rights and that the appeal should be dismissed.
Mr. M. wished to successfully appeal his conviction and have his fines overturned.
Mr. M. was able to convince the Ontario Court of Justice that the Justice of the Peace had erred in calculating the total period of delay. In order to assess whether somebody’s section 11(b) rights have been violated, the Court must first calculate the total period of delay. On appeal, the Crown argued that the period of delay runs from the date of charge to the last day of trial. Mr. Lemaire argued that the period of delay for the purpose of section 11(b) runs from the date of the charge to the date a decision is rendered. In other words, the days, weeks, or months, it takes the Judge to decide on the case ought to count as section 11(b) delay.
Mr. Lemaire successfully appealed Mr. M.’s conviction. This was a novel issue of law that had not previously been decided. One of Mr. Lemaire’s first cases became a reported case in a reputable law journal.