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26 September 2017
The Ontario appeal decision in R v Matcor Automotive Inc(1) is a reminder that courts in Occupational Health and Safety Act prosecutions can award fines higher than even the Ministry of Labour prosecutor requests.
In this unusual case, both a trial justice of the peace and an appeal judge imposed a fine that was substantially higher than that which the Ministry of Labour prosecutor wanted.
After a six-day trial, the defendant – an auto parts manufacturer – was found guilty on three charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The trial justice of the peace fined the company a total of C$270,000, despite the Ministry of Labour prosecutor at trial requesting a fine in the range of C$175,000 to C$225,000.
The company appealed the amount of the fine, but did not appeal the convictions. It argued that:
The appeal judge rejected all of these arguments on the grounds that:
On the appeal, the Ministry of Labour prosecutor and the defence counsel agreed that C$180,000 would be an appropriate amount for the fine. However, the appeal judge rejected this agreement, finding that the C$270,000 fine was not "unfit".
The judge decided that a fine of C$270,000 "fell within the appropriate range". The appeal was therefore dismissed.
The case illustrates that, particularly in cases of serious injury to a worker which offends the court, there is always a risk that the courts will impose a fine that is greater than the amount that the Ministry of Labour prosecutor wanted.
For further information on this topic please contact Adrian Miedema at Dentons Canada LLP by telephone (+1 416 863 4511) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Dentons Canada LLP website can be accessed at www.dentons.com.
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