Canadian Criminal Procedure and Practice/Disclosure/Particulars

General Principles edit

An accused can apply for an order requiring the Crown to provide particulars. Section 587(1)(f) states:

A court may, where it is satisfied that it is necessary for a fair trial, order the prosecutor to furnish particulars and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, may order the prosecutor to furnish particulars

(f) further describing the means by which an offence is alleged to have been committed;

(2) For the purpose of determining whether or not a particular is required, the court may give consideration to any evidence that has been taken.


The applicable factors to ordering particulars are set out as follows:[1]

  1. The purpose of particulars in a criminal trial is twofold. The first is to give exact and reasonable information to the accused respecting the charge against him as will enable him to establish his defence: R. v. Canadian General Electric at p. 443. The second purpose is to facilitate the administration of justice: R. v. Adduono, [1940] 1 D.L.R. 597, 73 C.C.C. 152 (Ont. C.A.). Also see R. v. Côté, 1977 CanLII 1 (SCC), [1978] 1 S.C.R. 8 at p. 13, (1977), 73 D.L.R. (3d) 752, 2 W.W.R. 174, 33 C.C.C. (2d) 353.
  2. To facilitate the administration of justice, it is essential that the trial judge have sufficient information before him or her by means of particulars as to what the Crown intends to prove against the accused in order that the trial judge may make “proper, adequate and expeditious rulings on the admissibility or otherwise of evidence sought to be deduced”: R. v. Cominco, supra, at para. 15. In R. v. General Electric, supra, the secondary purpose of particulars was illustrated as follows at 443 (C.C.C.): ". . .When a conspiracy count involves an alleged widespread complicated conspiracy for the accomplishment of a purpose going beyond the performance of individual acts, the particulars furnished will assist the Judge in ruling on the relevancy of the evidence. To adopt a homely form of words, at trial circumscribed by particulars will not wander all over the shop and will foreclose an unreal controversy."
  3. In the event a preliminary inquiry was held, particulars and related information available from the transcript thereof are to be taken into account in applications for particulars: R. v. McGavin Bakeries supra; R. v. Cominco, supra; R. v. Leverton, [1917] 2 W.W.R. 584, 34 D.L.R. 514, 28 C.C.C. 61 (Alta. C.A.) at pp. 519-22 (D.L.R.).
  4. The defence carries the burden of satisfying the court that the particulars sought are necessary for a fair trial.
  5. An order for particulars is a discretionary power of the court and not an absolute right of the accused: R. v. Griffin, [1935] 2 D.L.R. 503, 63 C.C.C. 286 (N.B.S.C.); R. v. Hunter, (1986), 23 C.C.C. (3d) 331 (Alta. C.A.) at p. 338.
  6. Section 587 does not require the Crown to give specific details of acts and omissions relevant to the offence charged, save where the same is clearly necessary for the purposes of a fair trial: R. v. McGavin Bakeries, supra; R. v. Cominco, supra.
  1. R. v. Imperial Tobacco Co. et al., [1940] 1 D.L.R. 397, 1 W.W.R. 124, 73 C.C.C. 18 (Alta. T.D.)
    R. v. Canadian General Electric Co. Ltd. et al. (1974), 17 C.C.C. (2d) 433 (Ont. H.C.J.)
    R. v. Cominco Ltd. et al., (1978), 91 D.L.R. (3d) 541, 41 C.C.C. (2d) 514, 13 A.R. 106 (Alta. T.D.)
    c.f. R. v. McGavin Bakeries et al. (1950), 99 C.C.C. 330, 1 W.W.R. (N.S.) 129, 11 C.R. 227 (Alta. T.D.)
    see also E.G. Ewaschuk in Criminal Pleadings & Practice in Canada, 2nd ed., (Toronto: Canada Law Book, 2003), at p. 9-41