The Advocates' Society intervenes in constitutionality case

Date Closed

February 11, 2008

In February 2008,  the Ontario Superior Court ruled  that the Charter of Rights does not grant the right to a jury in a civil action.

The question arose in the context of a motor vehicle accident case in which complex medical evidence was presented. At the outset of trial, the plaintiffs sought to have the jury discharged on the ground of complexity. The defendants opposed the request and the trial judge dismissed the motion, without prejudice to the plaintiffs to renew the motion upon hearing the evidence. Ultimately, upon renewal of the plaintiff’s motion, the trial judge dismissed the jury on the ground of complexity and decided to hear the constitutional issue separately. Shortly afterwards, the action settled, leaving the constitutional issue undecided.

In February 2008, the defendants’ application to the Court arguing that the provisions at issue offend a civil litigant’s right to life, liberty and security of the person under s. 7 and his or her equality rights under s. 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, was dismissed.

McCarthy Tétrault LLP represented the Advocates Society, one of the intervenors in the case, with a team led by Helen Gray.