Common Law Peace Bonds

From Criminal Law Notebook

General Principles

The peace bond traces back to the English common law as a form of "preventative justice." It "empowers justices to place a person under bond where it appears the person may be a threat to peace, regardless of the fact the person has committed no offence." [1]


It is generally believed that the common law peace bond was not extinguished by the inclusion of s. 9 of the Criminal Code, prohibiting common law offences.[2]

The common law peace bond still exists. It is not a criminal punishment that is extinguished by s. 9 of the Criminal Code and is affirmed by section 8(2)[3]

However, there is some disagreement whether a provincial court has jursdiction to impose common law peace bonds.[4]

A youth justice court has authority to impose a common law peace bond.[5]

Right to a Hearing

Where a trial judge is considering imposing common law peace bond, he must allow parties to make submissions on it, as a matter of fairness, before deciding.[6]

  1. Stevenson v Saskatchewan (Minister of Justice), 1987 CanLII 4983 (SKQB), , 61 Sask.R.91 (Q.B.), per Halvorson J
    R v Siemens, 2012 ABPC 116 (CanLII), 541 AR 62, per Rosborough J
    see also Mackenzie v Martin, 1954 CanLII 10 (SCC), [1954] SCR 361, per Rand J (dissenting on different point), at p. 370 ("In early Saxon law, preservation of the peace was secured in the liability of the freemen of a tithing or a hundred for the conduct of each person within it, which in the time of Edward the Confessor became at least supplemented by an ordinance empowering sureties to be required, administered by conservators [‘Justices’] of the peace. This capacity was, after the Conquest, incident to certain high offices of state, or based on prescription, or annexed to certain tenures of land. Generally, however, the conservators were elected by the freeholders sitting in full County Court before the Sheriff. What they were to preserve was the King’s peace, to guard the community and individual life of his subjects against mischievous disturbances and fear of personal injuries and trespasses on or to their possessions")
  2. R v Siemens, ABPC 116 (CanLII), per Rosborough J, at paras 3 to 12
  3. 8.(2) The criminal law of England that was in force in a province immediately before April 1, 1955 continues in force in the province except as altered, varied, modified or affected by this Act or any other Act of the Parliament of Canada.
  4. R v Gerrand, 2005 ABQB 353 (CanLII), per Lee J(complete citation pending)
    R v Taylor, 2001 BCPC 183 (CanLII), per Stansfield J
    Siemens, supra, at para 8
    R v Al-Mohamad, 2023 ABPC 42 (CanLII), per Fradsham J
  5. Siemens, supra, at para 9
    R v McCallum, 2004 CanLII 10208 (ON SC), 182 CCC (3d) 148, per Durno J
    R v NB[1994] B.C.J. No. 3322 (Youth Ct.)(*no CanLII links)
    contra: R. v. S., 1992 CarswellBC 1368 (Prov.Ct.)
  6. e.g. see R v Riad, 2014 ONSC 3407 (CanLII), per Campbell J, at paras 9 to 10