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2018: Inaugural Issue

Proposed Changes to Sexual Assault Legislation (Bills C-51 and C-337): Cases in Brief

December 4, 2018


“Cases in Brief” is a recent initiative of the Supreme Court of Canada. Legal cases tried at the highest court level are complex, and the written judgments that are produced are often lengthy and full of legalese; this is a significant barrier to understanding important legal developments in Canada. To improve transparency and accessibility of court decisions by non-experts, Cases in Brief offer short summaries written in reader-friendly and plain language. In line with this initiative to improve the accessibility of the important but jargon-rich developments of Canada’s justice system, the following briefs were created to summarize current debates in Canada’s Parliament. The primary legal issues are described for Bill C-51 (An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act) and Bill C-337 (The Judicial Accountability through Sexual Assault Law Training Act). The intent of these written summaries is to bring attention to the legislation, and to clarify the rationale for the different positions underlying the bills so that interested readers are encouraged to explore the complexities of the issues further. The potential effect of the proposed legislation is substantial for any individual involved in a sexual offence prosecuted in criminal court, but it is also meaningful for the general public in terms of the climate of sexual assault reporting that is likely to be fostered by passing these bills. Accordingly, it is important that the public understand the proposed changes to the legal system.