Supreme Court Of Canada Clarifies Courts Have An Obligation To Follow Decisions Of Courts At The Same Level In Most Cases

Published date16 May 2022
Subject MatterLitigation, Mediation & Arbitration, Criminal Law, Trials & Appeals & Compensation, Crime
Law FirmAffleck Greene McMurtry LLP
AuthorMr David N. Vaillancourt

The Supreme Court of Canada released a decision today (R. v. Sullivan 2022 SCC 19) dealing with an important issue relating to the constitutionality of a provision of the Criminal Code relating to self-induced intoxication and the automatism defence. The R. v. Sullivan decision also provided some much more far-reaching directions regarding the precedential value of prior decisions of courts of coordinate jurisdiction (i.e., the same level of court). In particular, it directed that prior decisions must be followed other than in three very narrow situations:

  1. The rationale of an earlier decision has been undermined by subsequent appellate decisions;
  2. The earlier decision was reached by inadvertence (failed to consider a binding precedent or relevant statutory provision);
  3. The earlier decision was not fully considered, e.g. taken in exigent circumstances.

Of course, if a case is factually...

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