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Landmark Case: Crown Duty to Disclose – R. v. Stinchcombe

Each OJEN Landmark Case includes a case summary, classroom discussion questions and worksheets that encourage students to explore both the legal and societal importance of the case.

In R v Stinchcombe, the Supreme Court of Canada, in a unanimous decision, held that the Crown is under a duty to disclose to the defence all evidence that could possibly be relevant to the case, regardless of whether the Crown plans to call that evidence at trial, or whether it helps or hurts the Crown’s case. The court ruled that the Crown duty to disclose derives from the right of an accused to make full answer and defence, which has been entrenched as a principle of fundamental justice under s. 7 of the Charter.

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5 thoughts on “Landmark Case: Crown Duty to Disclose – R. v. Stinchcombe”

  1. Hello there,
    I just wanted to ask that what was the supreme court of Canada’s final decision of the R.v Stinch Combe case?
    And the reason why the decision was made ?.

  2. Hi there,
    The SCC decided that the Crown must disclose all relevant information to the accused prior to the trial. Their reasoning was that to not make this disclosure would violate the s.7 right of an accused person to be able to make full defence to criminal charges.

  3. Other than the SCC’s decision, by what can a Defendant compell the Crown Prosecutor to provide full & complete disclosure if/when they do not do so?

  4. Hello – if the Crown is withholding something that it believes it is not obliged to disclose, the defense can make an application for disclosure to the judge. Depending on the judge’s ruling, the Crown could be compelled to disclose it. Fuller explanation is available here.

  5. Hi – Is this case also relevant to civil proceedings or is there a different precedent? For example, one party sues for a civil injunction and doesn’t disclose to the defendant that they will rely on new evidence not previously disclosed prior to the hearing. The Plaintiff then at trial announces the existence of this highly probative evidence and despite the objection of the defendant, the court still accepts the material into evidence.


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