Particulars

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General Principles

An accused can apply for an order requiring the Crown to provide particulars. Section 587(1)(f) states:

What may be ordered
587. (1)
...
(f)
...
A court may, where it is satisfied that it is necessary for a fair trial, order the prosecutor to furnish particulars and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, may order the prosecutor to furnish particulars
...

(f) further describing the means by which an offence is alleged to have been committed;


...
Regard to evidence
(2) For the purpose of determining whether or not a particular is required, the court may give consideration to any evidence that has been taken.
...
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 587; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 7.


CCC

The power to order particulars rests in the discretion of the judge. The judge will only order where it is "necessary".[1]

The dual purpose of particulars is to 1) ensure the defence's "ability to make full answer and defence" and 2) facilitate the administration of justice.[2]

There is no absolute right to particulars.[3] The burden is upon the applicant to establish on the balance of probabilities that the "necessity" to "understand and appreciate that which is alleged against him so as to enable him to adequately prepare and defend against said allegations".[4]

The purpose of orders for particulars is: (1) "to give exact and reasonable information to the accused respecting the charges before the court"; and (2) to "facilitate the administration of justice." [5]

The applicable factors to ordering particulars are set out as follows:[6]

  1. The purpose of particulars in a criminal trial is twofold. The first is to give exact and reasonable information to the accused respecting the charge against him as will enable him to establish his defence.[7] The second purpose is to facilitate the administration of justice.[8]
  2. To facilitate the administration of justice, it is essential that the trial judge have sufficient information before him or her by means of particulars as to what the Crown intends to prove against the accused in order that the trial judge may make “proper, adequate and expeditious rulings on the admissibility or otherwise of evidence sought to be deduced”[9]
  3. In the event a preliminary inquiry was held, particulars and related information available from the transcript thereof are to be taken into account in applications for particulars[10]
  4. The defence carries the burden of satisfying the court that the particulars sought are necessary for a fair trial.
  5. An order for particulars is a discretionary power of the court and not an absolute right of the accused[11]
  6. Section 587 does not require the Crown to give specific details of acts and omissions relevant to the offence charged, save where the same is clearly necessary for the purposes of a fair trial[12]

The request should be granted when the ability to mount a proper defence or the fairness of trial are impacted.[13]

The application should be considered in light of the amount and coverage of the disclosure already provided.[14]

After the rules provided in Stinchcombe requests for particulars has become far less frequent.[15]

The application should not be aimed at discovering the Crown's theory.[16] It should not be used to bind the Crown in preventing them from pursuing one theory or method of proof over another.[17]

Particulars have the effect of forming "part of the indictment and like the other elements of the indictment, must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt".[18]

  1. R v Hynes, 2001 SCC 82 (CanLII), [2001] 3 SCR 623 at para 33
  2. R v McCarthy’s Roofing Limited, 2016 NSPC 21 (CanLII) at para 7
    R v Canadian General Electric Co., [1974] OJ No 13 (HCJ)(*no link), at para 33 and 35
  3. R v Hunter, Goshinman and Anderson (1986), 23 CCC (3d) 331 (Alta. C.A.)(*no link) at para 33
  4. R v McLaren, 1995 CanLII 6031 (SK QB)
  5. Canadian General Electric, supra at para 35
  6. R v Imperial Tobacco Co. et al., [1940] 1 D.L.R. 397, 1 W.W.R. 124, 73 CCC 18 (Alta. T.D.)(*no link)
    R v Canadian General Electric Co. Ltd. et al., supra
    R v Cominco Ltd. et al., (1978), 91 D.L.R. (3d) 541, 41 CCC (2d) 514, 13 A.R. 106 (Alta. T.D.)(*no link)
    c.f. R v McGavin Bakeries et al. (1950), 99 CCC 330, 1 W.W.R. (N.S.) 129, 11 C.R. 227 (Alta. T.D.)(*no link)
    see also E.G. Ewaschuk in Criminal Pleadings & Practice in Canada, 2nd ed., (Toronto: Canada Law Book, 2003), at p. 9-41
  7. R v Canadian General Electric at p. 443
  8. R v Adduono, 1940 CanLII 109 (ON CA), [1940] 1 D.L.R. 597, 73 CCC 152 (Ont. C.A.). Also see R v Côté, 1977 CanLII 1 (SCC), [1978] 1 SCR 8 at p. 13, (1977), 73 D.L.R. (3d) 752, 2 W.W.R. 174, 33 CCC (2d) 353
  9. R v Cominco, supra, at para 15
    R v General Electric, supra, the secondary purpose of particulars was illustrated as follows at 443 (C.C.C.): ". . .When a conspiracy count involves an alleged widespread complicated conspiracy for the accomplishment of a purpose going beyond the performance of individual acts, the particulars furnished will assist the Judge in ruling on the relevancy of the evidence. To adopt a homely form of words, at trial circumscribed by particulars will not wander all over the shop and will foreclose an unreal controversy."
  10. R v McGavin Bakeries supra; R v Cominco; R v Leverton, [1917] 2 W.W.R. 584, 34 D.L.R. 514, 28 CCC 61 (Alta. C.A.)(*no link) at pp. 519-22 (D.L.R.)
  11. R v Griffin, [1935] 2 D.L.R. 503, 63 CCC 286 (N.B.S.C.)(*no link)
    R v Hunter, 1986 ABCA 81 (CanLII), (1986), 23 CCC (3d) 331 (Alta. C.A.) at p. 338
  12. R v McGavin Bakeries, supra
    Cominco, supra
  13. R v Violette, 2008 BCSC 185 (CanLII) at para 50
  14. Violette at para 50
    R v Cargill Limited -Cargill Limitee, 2000 ABPC 96 (CanLII) at para 14
  15. e.g. see R v Dalton (R.C.), 1999 CanLII 19775 (NL SCTD) at para 12
    R v Badry, 2000 ABPC 126 (CanLII)
  16. R v Sharpe, 2004 BCSC 241 (CanLII) at para 8 to 11
    R v Thatcher, 1987 CanLII 53 (SCC), [1987] 1 SCR 652
  17. Thatcher, ibid. at para 60, 61
  18. McCarthy's Roofing at para 8
    R v Saunders, [1990] 1 SCR 1020, 1990 CanLII 1131 (SCC), at paras 5 and 6
    R v Dalton (R.C.), 1999 CanLII 19775 (NL SCTD), at para 11

See Also