Chapter 8 - Conclusion

In R. v. Omar, Mr. Justice Sharpe gave the judgment of the Court on an interlocutory appeal from a five week long disclosure motion relating to access to informant files. He addressed a number of the issues that we have grappled with during this Review. In particular, he stated that the trial judge should not have "entertained lengthy and repetitive submissions that became an ongoing dialogue instead of … focused submissions." He also stated that the Crown repeatedly failed to assist the Court and the defence motion should not have been allowed to proceed as it "had no foundation in the evidence" and was "based on a legal argument that was doomed inevitably to failure". Sharpe J.A. concluded: [1]

Judicial proceedings are not designed on the basis of a cost-benefit analysis, but there surely must be an element of proportionality that informs the manner in which trials are conducted. In this case, there has been a significant expenditure of resources with no benefit that I have been able to discern. The judicial system, like all other public institutions, has limited resources at its disposal, as do the litigants and legal aid. The purpose of this appeal, of course, is not to attribute blame for how an unfortunate situation developed which resulted in several weeks court time being swallowed up on a peripheral issue. Suffice it to say that every effort must be made to keep trials focused on the essential issues. If not, there is a serious risk that our adversary trial system will simply collapse under its own weight and we will all be the poorer. It is in the interest of all constituencies - those accused of crimes, the police, Crown counsel, defence counsel, and judges both at trial and on appeal - to make the most of the limited resources at our disposal.

We are confident that if our recommendations are implemented, significant progress would be made in streamlining the long complex criminal trial and addressing the concerns expressed in Omar.

Some of the recommendations require legislation, including Criminal Code amendments, but none of the legislative amendments are lengthy or complex. Much of the policy work has already been done and we believe the necessary legislation could be drafted quickly and, hopefully, enacted in a timely manner.

Many of our recommendations are simply "best practices" that we recommend to the judiciary, the Crown and defence bars, LAO and the LSUC. These "best practices" could be implemented without delay, even if they were introduced incrementally.

Some of our recommendations will have resource implications. But if the recommendations are regarded as a package, and are implemented as such, we have no doubt they will result in overall cost savings to the justice system. Many of our current practices and procedures are slow, complex and inefficient and carry with them numerous hidden costs for the police, the Crown, the accused, the courts and LAO. Reform will reduce these costs.

We believe our recommendations will contribute to overall efficiencies and cost savings but, most importantly, they will improve the quality of justice. Slow, inefficient and expensive justice alienates the public and contributes to cynicism and disrespect for the rule of law. By aspiring to some of the speed and efficiency of an earlier era we will be enhancing confidence in and respect for the administration of justice.

As we said at the beginning of this Report, we believe there is broad support for our recommendations. One constituency or another may not be completely pleased with the exact framing of one recommendation or another. But when they all stood back and looked at the broad direction of the entire package of reforms, we believe there was strong consensus in favour of going forward with these recommendations. This powerful consensus is a good reason for treating these recommendations as a package.

We conclude by reiterating our thanks to all the participants in our Review. Many police, Crown counsel, defence counsel, judges, LAO officials and LSUC officials devoted significant time and energy to helping us. They are all individuals of the highest integrity who repeatedly expressed concerns about the delays and inefficiencies that presently exist in long complex trials. They all expressed a real commitment to finding solutions and we hope that we have lived up to their expectations.

We wish all justice system participants well as we move forward into an era which we hope and believe will be characterized by more effective and efficient justice. We prize this justice system and we all aspire to make it nothing less than the very best.

  1. R. v. Omar (2007), 218 C.C.C. (3d) 242 at 252-253 (Ont. C.A.).