Friday, August 10, 2012

Certificate of Offence under POA -- Sufficiency

Ontario (Transportation) v. Don's Triple F Transport Inc., 2012 ONCA 536 is a rather confusing case arising from an appeal from a decision of a Justice of the Peace.  The appeal was dismissed but in so doing a majority of the Court upheld the view that it is sufficient for a Certificate of Offence merely to identify the time, place and statute alleged to have been breached without a detailed factual description of what breach was alleged:


[44]       In accordance with R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 950, made pursuant to s. 13(1) of the POA, the Certificate of Offence used the prescribed short form for an offence under s. 68.1(1) of the HTA:


Permit operation of commercial motor vehicle not equipped with working speed-limiting system


[45]       It also identified the date of the offence, the address of the location where it occurred, the name and address of the accused, the licence plate and National Safety Code numbers associated with the vehicle, as well as the fact that it was a commercial vehicle. Importantly, it also refers specifically to the offence section of the HTA, s. 68.1(1). That section requires that the commercial vehicle be equipped with “a speed-limiting system that is activated and functioning in accordance with the regulations” (emphasis added).


[46]       In my view, by using the prescribed short form, the Certificate of Offence complies with the POA, and, in accordance with the words of s. 13(2), it is therefore “sufficient for all purposes to describe the offence designated”.


[47]       I am further satisfied that the charging document meets the three objectives identified by W. D. Drinkwalter and J. D. Ewart in Ontario Provincial Offences Procedure (Toronto: Carswell, 1980): identification of the offence; identification of the transaction; and reasonable information with respect to the act or omission.


[48]       My colleague suggests that had the words “in accordance with the regulations” been added to the short form, that may have been sufficient to provide reasonable information. In my view, that information is sufficiently provided by the specific reference to s. 68.1(1) of the HTA, which contains those exact words.


[49]       To summarize, I am satisfied that the description of the offence in the charging document is sufficient because it complies with the short form that the statute states is sufficient for all purposes to describe the offence. In my view, compliance with these provisions makes any further analysis unnecessary.


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