Re B.C. Motor Vehicle Act, [1985] 2 SCR 486

This matter went to the Supreme Court of Canada as a reference case (i.e. a question asked of the courts by the government), and led to the determination that the section of the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act which made it an absolute liability offence to drive while prohibited was unconstitutional.

The problem with this legislation, according to the court, was the potential for jail time, without the necessity of the government to prove mens rea, or some element of fault on the part of the accused. Such a law, the court held, violated the principles of fundamental justice.

Decided by the Supreme Court of Canada on December 17, 1985
Click here for the full text of the decision

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