CRIM 12 Criminal Pre-Trial Conferences

  • June 16, 2022

Effective Date: 16 June 2022
CRIM 12

PRACTICE DIRECTION

CRIMINAL PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCES

Background

In R. v. Jordan, 2016 SCC 27, the Supreme Court of Canada told all participants in the criminal justice system they have “a role to play in changing courtroom culture and facilitating a more efficient criminal justice system” (at para. 45). Participants were directed to engage in “proactive, preventative problem solving” (supra, at para. 112) and encouraged to “eliminate or avoid inefficient practices” (supra, at para. 117).

Since these directions in Jordan, over three quarters of all criminal files set for trial in Provincial Court collapsed on the scheduled trial date because of guilty pleas, stays of proceedings, bench warrants or adjournments. In this same timeframe, only 4% of all criminal files actually proceeded to a hearing in the Provincial Court. These statistics reveal that too many criminal files are set for trial and do not proceed causing significant scheduling difficulties and inefficient use of court time. The Provincial Court is implementing this practice direction to help address these concerns by mandating pre-trial conferences for criminal files (adult and youth) at all Provincial Court locations in the Province.

Purpose

There are two main purposes behind these pre-trial conferences. The first is to reduce the number of files being set for trial by helping to ensure that only those requiring a trial are actually set for hearing. The second purpose is to manage those files that are to be set for trial to ensure that accurate time estimates have been determined prior to dates being set and ensure hearings complete on time as scheduled.

The practice direction’s overarching aim is to reduce these inefficiencies in the criminal justice system by employing pre-trial conferences as a tool for the participants to collaborate and conduct cases more efficiently for the overall benefit of the administration of justice. The Court is committed to ensuring the fair, efficient and timely resolution of criminal files and to upholding the accused’s right to be tried within a reasonable time. Using pre-trial conferences to help reduce day of trial collapse rates and trial continuations is an important part of that commitment.

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