Breaking Down The Bench: Analyzing The Supreme Court Of Canada's 2022 Year-in-Review Report

Law FirmMiller Titerle + Company
Subject MatterLitigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Arbitration & Dispute Resolution, Trials & Appeals & Compensation
AuthorMs Myles Brown and Iain Thomas
Published date18 May 2023

The Supreme Court of Canada ("SCC") is the highest court in the country, tasked with interpreting the law and resolving disputes of national importance. Each year, the SCC issues a report summarizing its most significant cases and outlining its judicial activities. The 2022 Year in Review Report (the "Report") was recently released and provides valuable insights into the Court's role in shaping Canada's legal landscape. In this blog post, we will delve into the key highlights from the Report, a full copy of which is available here.

By the Numbers

During 2022, the SCC continued to experience a decrease in its caseload, which began during the pandemic. The SCC heard 52 appeals and rendered 53 judgements. Among those, the SCC heard 23 appeals 'as of right', meaning the SCC's permission was not required for the appeal to be heard. Conversely, the SCC granted 35 out of 478 applications for leave to appeal.

The cases heard by the SCC can be broadly divided into three categories: (1) Public Law; (2) Criminal Law; and (3) Private Law. In the Public Law category, the SCC interpreted Canada's Constitution and handled appeals arising from non-court decisions, such as those by governments and their agencies and tribunals. Criminal Law appeals dealt with prosecutions under the Criminal Code, R.S.C., 1985 c. C-46 (the "Criminal Code"), or other laws which prohibit conduct and impose punishments. Lastly, Private Law cases involved disputes between individuals that were taken to court for determination. Of the 52 appeals heard by the SCC, roughly 65% were in the Criminal Law category, 23% were in the Public Law category, and the remaining 12% were in the Private Law category.

In 2022, the majority of appeals heard by the SCC originated from Ontario (11), followed by Quebec (9), Alberta (8), and British Columbia (7). No appeals were heard from Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, or any of the territories. The SCC dismissed 33 appeals and allowed 20, resulting in a dismissal rate of just over 62%. This is similar to 2021, but 16% higher than in 2020.

The SCC was unanimous in 29 of its 53 decisions, accounting for 55%, the highest rate of unanimous decisions since 2016. The total number of hearing days at the SCC was 48, a decrease of 10 days from 2021. Further, the average time from filing an application for leave to appeal to receiving a judgment was 16.7 months, an increase of 1.5 months from the previous year but close to the 16.5-month average over the last ten years.


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