Liability of Organizations

From Criminal Law Notebook
This page was last substantively updated or reviewed January 2019. (Rev. # 84614)

General Principles

Section 217.1 imposes an obligation on employers:

Duty of persons directing work

217.1 Every one who undertakes, or has the authority, to direct how another person does work or performs a task is under a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent bodily harm to that person, or any other person, arising from that work or task.
2003, c. 21, s. 3.

CCC (CanLII), (DOJ)


Note up: 217.1

Appearance by attorney

620 Every organization against which an indictment is filed shall appear and plead by counsel or agent.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 620; 1997, c. 18, s. 70; 2003, c. 21, s. 11.

CCC (CanLII), (DOJ)


Note up: 620

Notice to organization:

Notice to organization

621 (1) The clerk of the court or the prosecutor may, where an indictment is filed against an organization, cause a notice of the indictment to be served on the organization.

Contents of notice

(2) A notice of an indictment referred to in subsection (1) [notice to organization] shall set out the nature and purport of the indictment and advise that, unless the organization appears on the date set out in the notice or the date fixed under subsection 548(2.1) [setting preliminary inquiry date], and enters a plea, a plea of not guilty will be entered for the accused by the court, and that the trial of the indictment will be proceeded with as though the organization had appeared and pleaded.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 621; 1997, c. 18, s. 71; 2003, c. 21, s. 11.
[annotation(s) added]

CCC (CanLII), (DOJ)


Note up: 621(1) and (2)

Procedure on default of appearance

622 Where an organization does not appear in accordance with the notice referred to in section 621 [notice to organization], the presiding judge may, on proof of service of the notice, order the clerk of the court to enter a plea of not guilty on behalf of the organization, and the plea has the same force and effect as if the organization had appeared by its counsel or agent and pleaded that plea.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 622; 1997, c. 18, s. 72; 2003, c. 21, s. 11.
[annotation(s) added]

CCC (CanLII), (DOJ)


Note up: 622

Trial of organization

623 Where an organization appears and pleads to an indictment or a plea of not guilty is entered by order of the court under section 622 [procedure on default of appearance], the court shall proceed with the trial of the indictment and, where the organization is convicted, section 735 [fines for organizations] applies.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 623; 1995, c. 22, s. 10; 2003, c. 21, s. 11.
[annotation(s) added]

CCC (CanLII), (DOJ)


Note up: 623

Dissolved Corporations

A company that has been dissolved for more than a fixed number years cannot be prosecuted unless it is revived in the interim.[1]

  1. R v George, 2018 ABPC 20 (CanLII), per Malin J - 5 years after dissolution in Alberta

Liability as Parties

Offences of negligence — organizations

22.1 In respect of an offence that requires the prosecution to prove negligence, an organization is a party to the offence if

(a) acting within the scope of their authority
(i) one of its representatives is a party to the offence, or
(ii) two or more of its representatives engage in conduct, whether by act or omission, such that, if it had been the conduct of only one representative, that representative would have been a party to the offence; and
(b) the senior officer who is responsible for the aspect of the organization’s activities that is relevant to the offence departs — or the senior officers, collectively, depart — markedly from the standard of care that, in the circumstances, could reasonably be expected to prevent a representative of the organization from being a party to the offence.


2003, c. 21, s. 2.

CCC (CanLII), (DOJ)


Note up: 22.1

Other offences — organizations

22.2 In respect of an offence that requires the prosecution to prove fault — other than negligence — an organization is a party to the offence if, with the intent at least in part to benefit the organization, one of its senior officers

(a) acting within the scope of their authority, is a party to the offence;
(b) having the mental state required to be a party to the offence and acting within the scope of their authority, directs the work of other representatives of the organization so that they do the act or make the omission specified in the offence; or
(c) knowing that a representative of the organization is or is about to be a party to the offence, does not take all reasonable measures to stop them from being a party to the offence.


2003, c. 21, s. 2.

CCC (CanLII), (DOJ)


Note up: 22.2

Procedure

An accused organization shall appear by way of counsel or agent.[1] Where counsel or agent for an organzation has failed to appear upon being given proper notice the court may enter a plea of not guilty.[2]

  1. s. 620 "Every organization against which an indictment is filed shall appear and plead by counsel or agent."
  2. s. 622

Appearances

Organization

556 (1) An accused organization shall appear by counsel or agent.

Non-appearance

(2) Where an accused organization does not appear pursuant to a summons and service of the summons on the organization is proved, the provincial court judge or, in Nunavut, the judge of the Nunavut Court of Justice

(a) may, if the charge is one over which the judge has absolute jurisdiction, proceed with the trial of the charge in the absence of the accused organization; and
(b) shall, if the charge is not one over which the judge has absolute jurisdiction, fix the date for the trial or the date on which the accused organization must appear in the trial court to have that date fixed.


Preliminary inquiry not requested

(3) If an accused organization appears and a preliminary inquiry is not requested under subsection 536(4) [request for preliminary inquiry], the provincial court judge shall fix the date for the trial or the date on which the organization must appear in the trial court to have that date fixed.

Preliminary inquiry not requested — Nunavut

(4) If an accused organization appears and a preliminary inquiry is not requested under subsection 536.1(3) [request for preliminary inquiry – Nunavut], the justice of the peace or the judge of the Nunavut Court of Justice shall fix the date for the trial or the date on which the organization must appear in the trial court to have that date fixed.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 556; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 107; 1999, c. 3, s. 40; 2002, c. 13, s. 34; 2003, c. 21, ss. 9, 22.
[annotation(s) added]

CCC (CanLII), (DOJ)


Note up: 556(1), (2), (3), and (4)

See Also