Stopping a Trial: What is a Stay of Proceedings - Zukerman Law

What is a Stay of Proceedings?

The legal system strives to deliver fair and just outcomes. In the context of a trial, this often hinges on a complete and thorough examination of the evidence. However, there may be instances where the court determines that the legal process needs to be paused. This temporary suspension, known as a stay of proceedings, serves a crucial function in ensuring a just resolution. This article explores the concept of stays of proceedings.

understanding-stays-of-proceedings

Understanding Stays of Proceedings

A legal term for a temporary pause or suspension of a court case is a stay of proceedings. It essentially puts the case on hold, effectively delaying any further legal proceedings until the stay is lifted.

A stay of proceedings can be granted for various reasons, such as allowing time for negotiations, gathering evidence, or awaiting a related case’s decision. It allows parties to reassess their positions and potentially reach a resolution without further litigation.

what-is-an-issue-of-jurisdiction

What is an Issue of Jurisdiction?

An issue of jurisdiction on a stay of proceedings involves a court determining if it has the legal authority to hear a case or if another court has jurisdiction. If the court determines it does not have jurisdiction, proceedings will be halted until the issue is resolved, which may involve transferring the case to another court or dismissing it altogether.

The court would take into account a number of factors, including the following, before determining whether to grant a stay of proceedings:

  • The type and subject of the dispute
  • The parties’ and witnesses’ locations
  • The applicable law
  • The evidence’s accessibility
  • The parties’ convenience
  • The fairness and efficiency of the judicial process

The court may also consider the parties’ arguments and submissions, and any relevant legislation or precedent. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that the case is heard in the appropriate court with the proper jurisdiction.

types-of-stays-of-proceedings

Types of Stays of Proceedings

There are two types of stays of proceedings: stays directed by the Attorney General, known as Prosecutorial Stays, and stays directed by a Judge, known as Judicial Stays.

1- Prosecutorial Stays

Section 579 of the Criminal Code allows the Attorney General or counsel to direct the court to make an entry on the record that proceedings are stayed. This decision is part of the Crown’s administrative prosecutorial discretion and is unilateral. 

Judges have no control over this decision and can only interfere in limited circumstances of abuse of process. The Crown can objectively choose to stay proceedings if there is no reasonable prospect of conviction based on evidence or if the prosecution does not serve the public interest.

Under section 579(2) of the Criminal Code, proceedings stayed by the Crown can be re-commenced without laying new information. Notice must be given within one year of the stay of proceedings order or before the expiration of the time within which the proceedings could have been commenced. 

If not given, the proceedings are deemed never to have been commenced. After a prosecutorial stay, the Crown can only pursue similar charges if they relay new information based on new evidence and start the process entirely over again.

2- Judicial Stays

A trial Judge can grant a stay of proceedings under section 24(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, only in cases where an accused’s Charter rights have been breached and no alternative remedy can cure the prejudice. 

This drastic remedy occurs in exceptional circumstances where egregious misconduct has occurred and no alternative remedy is available. The determination is final and prevents a court from ever adjudicating the matter, with no further determination of guilt or innocence beyond this stay.

when-might-a-stay-of-proceedings-be-granted

When Might a Stay of Proceedings Be Granted?

A court may grant a stay of proceedings for various reasons, ensuring the integrity and fairness of the legal process. Here are some common scenarios:

Lack of Crucial Evidence

If essential evidence for either party is unavailable or requires further investigation, the court might grant a stay to allow time for its acquisition. 

Violation of Defendant’s Rights

If the court finds that the defendant’s constitutional rights have been violated during the pre-trial process, a stay may be granted to address the violation and ensure a fair trial. 

Ongoing Appeals Process in a Related Case

Sometimes, a legal issue central to the current trial may be under appeal in a separate case. The court may choose to grant a stay until the outcome of the appeal is determined, as it could have a significant impact on the current proceedings. 

These are just a few examples, and the specific reasons for granting a stay can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. 

Zukerman Law Group: Your Partner in Navigating Stays of Proceedings

Zukerman Law Group: Your Partner in Navigating Stays of Proceedings

Stays of proceedings can be intricate legal maneuvers with significant implications for your case.  Understanding the nuances of when and why a stay might be necessary, as well as effectively advocating for one in court, requires a deep understanding of the law and experience navigating complex legal situations.

Zukerman Law Group‘s team of legal professionals possesses extensive experience in handling stays of proceedings. Their keen legal minds can analyze your case, identify potential opportunities for a stay, and build a compelling argument to present before the court. If you believe a stay might be beneficial to your situation, Zukerman Law Group can be a valuable asset in achieving a just and fair outcome. Contact Zukerman Law Group for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.

Conclusion 

Stays of proceedings are powerful tools that can significantly impact the course of a trial.  Understanding the reasons why a court might grant a stay, the potential benefits and drawbacks for both parties, and the importance of legal expertise in navigating these complexities are all crucial elements.

If you find yourself in a situation where a stay of proceedings might be beneficial,  consider contacting Zukerman Law Group. Our team of experienced legal professionals can analyze your case, advise you on the potential merits of a stay, and advocate for your best interests in court.  Remember, a well-informed decision and a skilled legal partner can make all the difference in achieving a just and fair outcome.

FAQs

  • 1. Is a stay of proceedings the same as a dismissal of the case?1

    No, a stay of proceedings is not the same as a dismissal of the case. A stay simply pauses the trial for some time. The underlying lawsuit remains active, and the trial will resume eventually. In contrast, a dismissal ends the case entirely, with a judgment typically issued in favor of one party.

  • 2. How long can a stay of proceedings last?1

    The duration of a stay of proceedings can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. Some stays might be granted for a short period, such as a few weeks to allow for additional evidence gathering. Others, particularly those related to ongoing appeals, could last for months or even years.

  • 3. Should I seek legal counsel if I believe a stay of proceedings might be beneficial in my case?1

    Yes, consulting with an experienced attorney is highly recommended if you believe a stay of proceedings could be advantageous to your situation. A lawyer can assess the specific details of your case, determine the legal grounds for seeking a stay, and effectively advocate for your rights in court. They can also help you navigate the complexities of the legal process and ensure your best interests are protected throughout.

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author

Stuart Zukerman

Stuart Zukerman, a graduate of the University of British Columbia, has over 32 years of experience in litigation with a focus on Family Law, Personal Injury, Wrongful Dismissal claims, and Collaborative Divorce & Mediation. He has extensive trial experience in divorce, child custody, spousal support, asset division, and ICBC injury claims. As an accredited Family Law Mediator, he helps resolve disputes without court intervention. Stuart has also authored papers on family law and lectured at CLE courses.