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Hunter v Southam Inc, [1984] 2 SCR 145


Any law inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution is of no force or effect.
Under authority of the Act H entered and examined documents and other things at the business premises of Southam. The wanted to search every file they had in the building, except files in the new room. They declined to give the name of any person whose complaint had initiated the inquiry, or to say which section of the Act the inquiry had begun. Also declined to give more specific information about the inquiry.


Is there constitutional validity of a statute authorizing search of seizure?
What does the word “unreasonable” in s. 8 of the Act mean?
Do s. 10(3) and (1) violated s. 8 of the Charter because they violate unreasonable search and seizure?


With no warrant the search is prima facie unreasonable and onus is on police to prove that it was reasonable.

A person authorizing a warrant must be capable of acting judicially and must be an impartial authority, presented with sworn evidence, and must have reasonable and probable grounds that there is relevant evidence at site of search.


Points to take away from this case
1. A search without a warrant is unreasonable - Onus is on state to prove a warrant search is reasonable
2. Must be issued before the search
3. Must be granted by someone capable of acting judicially, not just administratively or on investigation
4. Person issuing the warrant must be presented with sworn evidence
5. Person issuing warrant must have reasonable and probable grounds that relevant evidence is present at the site of the search.


Appeal dismissed with costs to the respondent – they are not constitutionally valid


Use for warrant cases


  1. Fiat Justitia Ruat Caelum 32


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