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R v Pontes, [1995] 3 SCR 44

Facts:

P was charged with driving a car in Van at a time when he was prohibited from driving pursuant to s.92 of the Motor Vehicle Act.

Issue(s):

Does the combined effect of ss 94(1) and 92 of the Motor Vehicle Act create an offence of absolute or strict liability?

Ratio:

This is an absolute liability offence because the only possible defences are those of mistake of law, which is not a defence – so since there is no defence so it becomes an absolute liability offence.
**When there is no defence of due diligence accorded to the individual then the offence is said to be an absolute liability offence, not a strict liability offence

Analysis:

An accused charged with an absolute liability offence cannot avoid liability by demonstrating that he exercises due diligence.

Defence of Due Diligence:
**2 facets to this defence (2 defences available for strict liability)
***An honest but mistaken belief in facts, which if true, would render the act innocent, or
***That he exercises all reasonable care to avoid committing the offence (due diligence)
**This defence is not available under ss 92 and 94
***If a person says my license was suspended – that is a mistake of law not mis of fact – so the accused could not have that defence

Holding:

Ss 92 and 94 create an absolute liability offence since they eliminate the defence of due diligence, and the absolute liability offence does not contravene the Charter – because there is no sanction of imprisonment

Comments:

Even though it took out the words this is an absolute offence, is the section still an absolute liability offence


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