R. v. Mills

[1986] 1 S.C.R. 863



magistrate sitting at a preliminary hearing is not a court of competent jurisdiction within the meaning of s. 24. The limited jurisdiction conferred on him in Part XV of the Code does not permit him to hear and determine the question of whether or not a Charter right has been infringed or denied...On a s. 24(1) application for a remedy against unreasonable delay, a superior court judge should generally confine his jurisdiction to attempting to prevent existing causes for delay and ongoing prejudice to an accused and should refrain from attempting to remedy past delays. The trial judge will be in a better position to deal with those delays when the case comes before him and to accord such remedies as can reasonably be afforded under criminal law jurisdiction.



Section 11(b) enunciates an individual right to be tried within a reasonable time for all persons charged with an offence. I wish to emphasize at the outset that this right is, in its nature, an individual right and has no collective rights dimension. While society may well have an interest in the prompt and effective prosecution of criminal cases, that interest finds no expression in s. 11(b), though evidently, incidental satisfaction. The section is primarily concerned with ensuring respect for the interests of the individual. Effective enforcement of this Charter right, which may from time to time see the guilty go free, will nevertheless also benefit society as a whole. It will ensure, in addition to respect for individual rights, the prompt prosecution and determination of criminal cases, a result which will be welcomed by the innocent and regarded with aversion by many of the guilty. But the societal benefit resulting from the prompt prosecution of criminal cases, though [page918] of great importance, is a by-product of the section; it is not its object.

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