Access to Things Detained Under Section 490

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Property seized by the police is held in custody under the supervision of the Courts.[1]

Access to Seized Property

Any property seized pursuant to a warrant and then detained on the basis of a report to justice under s. 490 may be accessed by a third party under s. 490(15) and (16).

Access to anything seized
(15) Where anything is detained pursuant to subsections (1) to (3.1), a judge of a superior court of criminal jurisdiction, a judge as defined in section 552 or a provincial court judge may, on summary application on behalf of a person who has an interest in what is detained, after three clear days notice to the Attorney General, order that the person by or on whose behalf the application is made be permitted to examine anything so detained.
(16) An order that is made under subsection (15) shall be made on such terms as appear to the judge to be necessary or desirable to ensure that anything in respect of which the order is made is safeguarded and preserved for any purpose for which it may subsequently be required.

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 490; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 73; 1994, c. 44, s. 38; 1997, c. 18, s. 50; 2008, c. 18, s. 14.


The civil procedure rules of each province may provide for some rules regarding the use and release of exhibits.[1]

The right to "examine" includes the ability to make copies of any documents.[2]

Section 490(15) is not unconstitutional for being silent on the use of the section by government agencies conducting non-criminal investigations.[3]

  1. See Nova Scotia Civil Procedure Rule 84.04(4)
    Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 52.04
    Alberta Rules of Court Rule 13.26
    British Columbia Supreme Court Rules Rule 40
  2. R v Sutherland (1977), 38 CCC (2d) 252 (*no CanLII links) - in reference to s. 446 (predecessor to s. 490)
    Canada (Attorney General) v Ontario (Attorney General), [2002] O.J. No. 2357 (S.C.J) (*no CanLII links)
  3. Anderson-Davis (Re), 1997 CanLII 4181 (BC SC)

Sharing Seized Evidence Amongst Government Organizations

Where evidence, seized by way of a residential search warrant, does not hold a reasonable expectation of privacy, they may be shared between law enforcement and government agencies.[1]

  1. Brown v Canada, 2013 FCA 111 (CanLII) - CRA documents found in a warrant search of accused's residence was shared with CRA

See Also