In the most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly
, Toronto-based lawyer Dianne Saxe discusses the phenomenon of private prosecutions in Canada
, which appear to have some importance in the field of environmental law:
"Public prosecutors are less likely to discontinue a private prosecution today than they used to be, and are supposed to do so only when:
- there is so little evidence that there is no case to answer; or
- the prosecution is likely to damage the interests of justice.
"But that is only the first step. A generation ago, if environmental groups escaped having their charges withdrawn by the attorney general, they received a cold welcome from the courts. In R v. Cyanamid Canada Inc., (1981) 11 CELR 31, where the judge had no choice but to convict, he showed his displeasure by imposing a $1 fine. "
"Today, private prosecutors get a lot more respect from the bench. As the Canadian Law Reform Commission put it: 'This form of citizen/victim participation enhances basic democratic values while at the same time it promotes the general image of an effective system of administering justice within the Canadian state'. "
Labels: courts, environmental law, litigation