The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has dismissed two appeals from Alberta defendants seeking a right to trial by jury for Securities Act offences, upholding a December 2015 ruling from the Alberta Court of Appeal.
The appellants, Ronald Aitkens and Jeremy (Jay) Peers, are each facing charges under the Securities Act in two unrelated cases. They claimed that the maximum penalty under Alberta securities laws of five years less a day in prison, or a $5 million fine, or both, triggers the right to a jury trial under section 11(f) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Specifically, that section of the Charter provides a right to a trial by jury for any person charged with an offence where the maximum punishment is imprisonment for five years or a more severe punishment.
All nine SCC justices heard the appeal on Feb. 14 and issued a unanimous ruling, dismissing the appeal, on Friday.
“This decision reinforces that securities offences will be tried in provincial court through the summary conviction process, as they always have been,” says Stan Magidson, chairman and CEO of the Alberta Securities Commission, in a statement. “The Alberta Securities Commission will continue to prosecute serious breaches of the Securities Act in provincial court in trials before a judge alone.”
Aitkens’ trial has been scheduled for April 2018. Jeremy Peers pled guilty in February 2016; a sentencing date has not yet been set and a court appearance is scheduled for later on Friday.
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