R v. Rideout

In Due Diligence, Fish Cases, Offences on (Updated )

This case involved a crab fisherman who was charged with contravening a condition of his licence that only allowed him to fish in sub-area 23d. At trial it was established that the accused was fishing outside sub-area 23d based upon a mistaken but honest belief that he was inside sub-area 23d. At issue in the case was the application of the due diligence and/or officially induced error defence.

The evidence was that the conditions of the licence of the accused only described a portion of sub-area 23d making it necessary for the accused to either obtain a copy of the regulation or contact D.F.O. in order to obtain the co-ordinates of the boundaries of area 23.

After an interesting discussion of the overlapping nature of these defences, the court concluded as follows:

Since the Crown was able to satisfy the court of the boundaries of area 23d for the purposes of proving the actus reus of the offence, it could not be said the licence conditions were vague and misleading;
Since the accused did not take the time to chart the boundaries of area 23d before starting to fish (which may have involved contacting D.F.O. to ascertain the boundaries of area 23) he cannot be said to have taken all reasonable steps to avoid committing the offence; and
Since the boundaries were ascertainable by reference to the licence conditions and regulations, it cannot be said that the wording of the conditions induced the accused into making an error.
Postscript: For a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada on officially induced error see Levis (City) v. Tetrea 2006 SCC 12 (reasons)