R v. Rayner

In Fish Cases, Miscellaneous, Offences on (Updated )

This case involved a lobster fisherman charged with unlawful of possession of female crabs. The issue was whether or not the trial judge erred in rejecting opinion evidence from two fisheries officers with respect to the gender of the crabs. In doing so, he was of the view that the evidence of the Fisheries Officers was not of sufficient weight to justify a conviction because neither of the Officers had any formal scientific training on the identification of the gender of crabs.

In overturning the decision and ordering a new trial, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal held that the trial court applied to high a standard for the reception of opinion evidence. In doing so, it cited two S.C.C. cases for the proposition that:

It is not a requirement that a person be formally educated in a particular area in order to be qualified as an expert. People who are by some particular or special knowledge, skill or training can give an opinion on a mater in issue that falls outside common or popular understanding. This knowledge and expertise can be gained through either study or practical experience or observation (para. 22).

It is noteworthy that the court also cited Sopinka and Lederman for the proposition that since there was no objection to the admission of the opinion evidence, the failure to hold a voire dire was not fatal.