Class Actions

Alberta Bail Class Action —

This certified class action is brought against the Province of Alberta for its systemic failure to conduct bail hearings within 24 hours of an arrest, as required by the Criminal Code and the Charter.

Case Overview

Section 503(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada (“the Code”) requires that all persons arrested by the police and who are not released on other terms be brought before a justice within 24 hours of their arrest for the purposes of a bail hearing. This Code requirement secures arrested persons from arbitrary and unlawful detention by the police and the state. The 24 hour time limit ensures that Canadians are not deprived of their liberty unreasonably and protects the Constitutional rights enshrined in sections 7, 9, 11(d), (e) and 12 of the Charter.

This certified class action is brought on behalf of persons arrested in Alberta between October 25, 2016 and September 26, 2022 who were unreasonably deprived of their liberty by being denied access to a bail hearing within 24 hours, and who meet certain other conditions (see the “Updates” section for the full class definition).

The original plaintiff, Ryan Reilly, was held for approximately 36 hours after he was arrested before he had a bail hearing. The representative plaintiff, MS, was held for more than 26 hours before he was brought before a JP for a bail hearing. He was released on his own recognizance, and ultimately acquitted at trial.

The claim alleges that Alberta (the “Crown”) does not have enough Crown prosecutors available to conduct bail hearings on a timely basis, and that the Crown bail process resulted in systemic delays. As a result, the representative plaintiff and other class members were forced to remain in police custody well past the maximum time limits mandated by the Code.

Mr. Reilly’s criminal charges were stayed by Judge Cochard of the Alberta Provincial Court who confirmed that the unlawful detention of Mr. Reilly by the Crown breached his Charter rights. Judge Cochard also confirmed that Mr. Reilly was one of thousands of Albertans who were detained in contravention of the Code’s mandated 24 hour time period. On the appeal from this decision at the Court of Appeal and at the Supreme Court of Canada, the Crown admitted that Mr. Reilly’s Charter rights had been breached. All charges against Mr. Reilly were stayed as a result of his being overheld and the systemic issues with the Crown’s bail regime.

Amongst other relief, the action seeks Charter and related damages on behalf of all class members for the Crown’s alleged breach of the fundamental right to a bail hearing within 24 hours of arrest. It also seeks punitive damages against the Crown for its alleged failure properly to protect the basic liberty of Albertans.

The Alberta Court of King’s Bench certified the action to proceed on a class-wide basis on September 26, 2022.

Were you detained for more than 24 hours without a bail hearing in Alberta?

If you believe that you or someone you know was held for more than 24 hours without a bail hearing in Alberta, we would like to hear from you.

If you complete our online form, we will respond to your inquiry, typically within one business day. Or you can contact us at:

reception@waddellphillips.ca

630 6th Avenue SW, Suite 600, Calgary, AB – attn: Alberta Bail Class Action

Case Overview

Section 503(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada (“the Code”) requires that all persons arrested by the police and who are not released on other terms be brought before a justice within 24 hours of their arrest for the purposes of a bail hearing. This Code requirement secures arrested persons from arbitrary and unlawful detention by the police and the state. The 24 hour time limit ensures that Canadians are not deprived of their liberty unreasonably and protects the Constitutional rights enshrined in sections 7, 9, 11(d), (e) and 12 of the Charter.

This certified class action is brought on behalf of persons arrested in Alberta between October 25, 2016 and September 26, 2022 who were unreasonably deprived of their liberty by being denied access to a bail hearing within 24 hours, and who meet certain other conditions (see the “Updates” section for the full class definition).

The original plaintiff, Ryan Reilly, was held for approximately 36 hours after he was arrested before he had a bail hearing. The representative plaintiff, MS, was held for more than 26 hours before he was brought before a JP for a bail hearing. He was released on his own recognizance, and ultimately acquitted at trial.

The claim alleges that Alberta (the “Crown”) does not have enough Crown prosecutors available to conduct bail hearings on a timely basis, and that the Crown bail process resulted in systemic delays. As a result, the representative plaintiff and other class members were forced to remain in police custody well past the maximum time limits mandated by the Code.

Mr. Reilly’s criminal charges were stayed by Judge Cochard of the Alberta Provincial Court who confirmed that the unlawful detention of Mr. Reilly by the Crown breached his Charter rights. Judge Cochard also confirmed that Mr. Reilly was one of thousands of Albertans who were detained in contravention of the Code’s mandated 24 hour time period. On the appeal from this decision at the Court of Appeal and at the Supreme Court of Canada, the Crown admitted that Mr. Reilly’s Charter rights had been breached. All charges against Mr. Reilly were stayed as a result of his being overheld and the systemic issues with the Crown’s bail regime.

Amongst other relief, the action seeks Charter and related damages on behalf of all class members for the Crown’s alleged breach of the fundamental right to a bail hearing within 24 hours of arrest. It also seeks punitive damages against the Crown for its alleged failure properly to protect the basic liberty of Albertans.

The Alberta Court of King’s Bench certified the action to proceed on a class-wide basis on September 26, 2022.

Were you detained for more than 24 hours without a bail hearing in Alberta?

If you believe that you or someone you know was held for more than 24 hours without a bail hearing in Alberta, we would like to hear from you.

If you complete our online form, we will respond to your inquiry, typically within one business day. Or you can contact us at:

reception@waddellphillips.ca

630 6th Avenue SW, Suite 600, Calgary, AB – attn: Alberta Bail Class Action

Status of Litigation

On September 26, 2022, the Alberta Court of King’s Bench certified this action as a class proceeding on behalf of the following Class:

All persons arrested in Alberta between October 25, 2016 and September 26, 2022, who:

(a) did not receive a bail hearing within 24 hours of their arrest;

(b) did not consent to an adjournment of their bail hearing within 24 hours of their arrest;

(c) did not have their bail hearing adjourned by a justice within 24 hours of their arrest;

(d) were not arrested or charged with an offence listed under s. 469 of the Criminal Code;

(e) were granted bail at a bail hearing, or were released without a bail hearing but not until after 24 hours from the time of their arrest;

(f) did not receive a prison sentence or a sentence based upon time served as a result of charges stemming from their arrest; and

(g) did not have their bail hearings conducted by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada or any other Federally appointed prosecutor.

This start date of the Class period (October 25, 2016) is the date that Alberta transitioned from bail hearings conducted by peace officers to bail hearings conducted by Crown prosecutors.

The certification decision means that the Court has decided that this is an appropriate case to proceed as a class action.  The court has not yet determined whether Alberta is at fault or is required to compensate the class members. Alberta has until October 26, 2022 to decide whether it will appeal this decision.

If Alberta does not appeal (or if Alberta’s appeal is dismissed), then a notice will be published to confirm the certification of the action, which will include instructions and a deadline for opting out of the class action for anyone who does not wish to be a part of it. Anyone who fits within the Class definition (above) and who does not opt out by the opt-out deadline will be automatically included in the class action.

Further updates about the action will be posted as major steps take place.

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Related Decisions

If you would like to contact the proposed representative plaintiffs directly, you may email them at: abrepplaintiff@gmail.com or call them at: 780-652-0979 or toll-free at 1-855-561-3625.

If you would like to contact class counsel, fill out the simple form below and we’ll respond shortly. We review every inquiry we receive and will respond promptly to case specific inquiries.

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