CALGARY, Dec. 21, 2015 /CNW/ - The Alberta Court of Appeal has dismissed two appeals from defendants seeking a right to a trial by jury for Securities Act offences. The appeals – one from Calgary and one from Edmonton – claimed that the maximum penalty under Alberta securities laws of five years less a day in prison, or a $5 million fine, or both, triggered the right to a jury trial under section 11(f) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That section provides a right to a trial by jury for any person charged with an offence where the maximum sentence is imprisonment for five years or a more severe punishment.
In dismissing the appeals, the majority of the Court concluded "…the maximum penalty of five years less a day found in the Securities Act was deliberately chosen to avoid jury trials of complex securities prosecutions. The Provincial Legislature cannot be criticized for attempting to enact Charter-compliant legislation by deliberately setting a maximum penalty which reflects the de facto cut-off in the Charter, and the procedural limitations of the Provincial Court."
An appearance to set a date for trial in the Calgary proceeding against Ronald Aitkens will be held in mid-January 2016. The Edmonton proceeding, involving defendants Jeremy and Robert Peers, is scheduled to begin in February 2016.
The ASC is the regulatory agency responsible for administering the province's securities laws. It is entrusted with fostering a fair and efficient capital market in Alberta and with protecting investors. As a member of the Canadian Securities Administrators, the ASC works to improve, coordinate and harmonize the regulation of Canada's capital markets.
SOURCE Alberta Securities Commission
For further information: For Media Inquiries: Mark Dickey, Senior Communications Advisor, 403.297.4481; For Investor Inquiries: ASC Public Inquiries, Toll Free 1.877.355.4488