R v. Morgan

In Fish Cases, Miscellaneous, Offences on (Updated )

This case involved a charge of violating a condition of a fishing licence, namely failing to have a dockside observer supervise the unloading of a crab vessel. One issue which arose at trial was the admissibility of a computer generated replication of the fisherman’s fishing licence along with the conditions and schedules attached thereto. In allowing the licence and related documents to be admitted, the court did a comprehensive review of the applicable sections of the Canada Evidence Act as set out below.

Section 24 of the C.E.A. -Certified Copies of Official or Public Documents

The court ruled that the licence documents were not “official documents” because they were made by public servants in the ordinary course of business and did not have a special status necessitating that they be preserved and stored for some specialized usage.

The court ruled that to establish that the licence documents were “public documents”, the Crown must establish the following:

1. The Record must have been made by a public official;

2. In the discharge of a distinct public function or obligation;

3. With a view of a permanent record; and

4. The document must be accessible to the Public (a new requirement not part of the Law of England).

Upon applying the test, the Court found that the last two requirements had not been established by the Crown. In addition, the Court found that there was no provision allowing any of the evidence to be established by affidavit. Accordingly it ruled there was no admissible evidentiary foundation for admitting the licence documents as “public documents” under s. 24.

S. 30, 31.1 & 31. 2of the C.E.A.,Record made in the Usual and Ordinary Course of Business

Upon reviewing s. 30 of the C.E.A., the Court ruled that the licence documents fell within the definition of “record” in s. 30(12) of the Act. It also relied upon R. v. Parker (1984), 16 C.C.C. (3d) 478 to rule that affidavit evidence could be used to establish that the record was prepared in the usual and ordinary course of business. However, since the licence documents tendered in courts were not original documents, the court had to go on and determine whether a computer generated copy could be received in evidence. With respect to s. 31.1, the Court relied upon both the verbal evidence of one witness and observations of the documents themselves to conclude that they were “what they are purported to be”. With respect to s. 31.2 (Best evidence rule), the court was also satisfied that affidavit evidence confirmed: (1) the integrity of the computer system and (2) the printout had been manifestly or consistently acted on, relied on or sused as a record of the information recorded or stored in the print out.

Since the documents satisfied the best evidence type requirements set out in ss. 31.1 and 31.2, and since they were admissible under the ordinary course of business exception under s. 30 of the Act, the court admitted the licence documents.

Alternatively, the Court also ruled that so long as the licence documents were admissible under s. 30, they also would have been admissible under s. 30 (3) of the Act which provides for the use of copies when it is not reasonable or practical to produce the original.

S. 25 C.E.A.,Copy of Public Document

Without reasons, the court ruled that this section was not applicable.

S. 26 C.E.A.,Books Kept in Offices Under Gov’t of Canada.

Without reasons, the court ruled that this section was not applicable.