Legal Developments: Regulatory Offences
R. v. Melaku  O.J. No. 3835 (Ont. C.A.): in Melaku, Madam Justice Epstein of the Ontario Court of Appeal held that the Court of Appeal has no jurisdiction to hear an appeal from the dismissal of an application to extend the time for filing a notice of appeal under the Provincial Offences Act. The Provincial Offences Act governs the prosecution of Provincial Offences including prosecutions under the Highway Traffic Act, the Securities Act, and the Health and Safety Act.
Mr. Melaku was a taxi driver who was charged with a number of driving offences under the Highway Traffic Act along with a number of municipal bylaws relating to the operation of a taxi cab. Mr. Melaku did not appear at his trial date because of a family emergency that required him to leave the country. However, because he was prosecuted under Part I of the Provincial Offences Act, he was convicted in abstentia.
Upon his return to Canada, Mr. Melaku brought an application to extend the time for filing a notice of appeal as he had not filed the notice within the required time period of 15 days following conviction. Justice Young of the Ontario Court of Justice dismissed his application for an extension of time as he had not been diligent in pursuing the matter. Mr. Melaku appealed that decision to the Ontario Court of Appeal and Justice Epstein held that the Court of Appeal did not have jurisdiction to hear the appeal.
As a result of the Court’s decision, Mr. Melaku was required to pay almost $2,000 in fines and was suspended from driving. It also effectively put an end to his employment as a taxi driver as his insurance costs would be prohibitive.
R. v. Jenkins (2010), 253 C.C.C. (3d) 562 (Ont. C.A.): in Jenkins, the Ontario Court of Appeal held that where a Defendant fails to appear in court to face a charge under Part III of the Highway Traffic Act (such as Driving While Under Suspension), it is less appropriate for the prosecution to continue in the absence of the Defendant if the prosecutor is seeking a lengthy custodial sentence. The Court further held that the Justice of the Peace must consider whether they should adjourn the proceedings and issue a warrant for the Defendant’s arrest so that they may be brought before the court to provide the court with the benefit of their submissions.