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OFFENCES-TERRITORIAL JURISDICTION

OFFENCES-TERRITORIAL JURISDICTION

In R. v. Webber, 2021 NSCA 35, April 27, 2021, the accused was charged with a number of offences, including the offence of sexual exploitation, contrary to section 153(1)(a) of the Criminal Code. The indictment read as follows:

…that she at Moncton, New Brunswick, at the same time aforesaid, being a person in a relationship with [M.M.S.], a young person, that is exploitive of [M.M.S.], did for a sexual purpose directly touch a part of [M.M.S.], contrary to Section 153(1)(a) of the Criminal Code.

The accused was convicted.  On appeal she argued that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter because the offence was alleged to have occurred in another province.

Thee appeal was allowed and an acquittal entered.  The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal concluded as follows (at paragraphs 81 to 83):

On its face it alleged the offence occurred within the territorial jurisdiction of New Brunswick.  It does not allege nor can it be interpreted in such a manner as to confer territorial jurisdiction upon Nova Scotia.  If an indictment alleges an offence occurred outside the territorial jurisdiction of the court, and none of the exceptions in the Criminal Code apply, the court has no jurisdiction to adjudicate the proceedings.

Neither party has referred to a reported case where a court has assumed territorial jurisdiction over a Criminal Code offence which was alleged, by way of the wording of the indictment, to have occurred exclusively in a different province. 

In order for the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia to have gained jurisdiction in the present case, the Indictment would have had to have alleged that the s. 153(1)(a) offence occurred in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.