Government introduces MAJOR REFORMS to the Summary Trial process

CF military justiceJune 16, 2015. Quite unexpectedly, the Canadian Government introduced legislation in Parliament which will dramatically change the scope, jurisdiction and sanctions permitted by “summary trials”.  According to the official news release, the proposed changes will reinforce the “disciplinary nature of the summary trial process for dealing with minor service misconduct” and make sure that it becomes completely disconnected from the criminal / penal system.  Hence, a summary trial would only try “disciplinary infractions” NOT, repeat NOT,  service offices.  Also, someone found guilty of having committed a disciplinary infraction could NOT, repeat not, be sentenced to ‘detention’ as it currently the case.  We at MDLO have been arguing for such changes for a long, long time. The proposed changes would also  bring the summary trial process in compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedom

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The text of Bill C-71 – An Act to Amend the National Defence Act and the Criminal Code can be found here

First and foremost, the proposed legislation will create, in regulations, “Disciplinary Infractions”  that can be tried by summary trials.

  • Section 162.4 stipulates that disciplinary infraction may only be tried by summary trial.
  • Section 162.5 stipulates that a disciplinary infraction is NOT an offence under the National Defence Act and does not constitute an offence for the purposes of the Criminal Records Act

Second, the legislation will provide for a scale of sanctions and principle to sanctions in respect to disciplinary infractions.

  • Section 162.7 stipulates that the only sanctions that may be imposed in respect to a disciplinary infraction is: a) reduction in rank; b) severe reprimand; c) reprimand; d) deprivation of pay and allowances for not more than 18 days; e) minor sanctions to be prescribed in regulations.

This means that an accused can no longer be committed to detention by an officer presiding at a summary trial.

Third, it will provide for a six-month limitation period in respect of summary trials.

  • Section 163.4 stipulates that no person may be tried by summary trial unless the summary trial commences within six (6) months after the day on which the disciplinary infraction is alleged to have been committed.


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