Court of Appeal of Quebec

Snooks c. Procureur général du Canada

500-10-007092-198; 500-10-007093-196

Morissette, Rancourt, Beaupré

Appeals from judgments of the Superior Court. Dismissed.

The appellants appeal from judgments of the Superior Court dismissing their applications for habeas corpus, with certiorari in aid, following their involuntary transfer by Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) after a reassessment of their security classifications.

The appellants relied on subsection 784(1) of the Criminal Code (R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46) (Cr. C.) to file their notices of appeal 28 days after the judgment under appeal, that is, within the 30-day time limit under section 23 of the Rules of the Court of Appeal of Quebec in Criminal Matters (SI/2018-96 of 31-10-2018, (2018) 152 C. Gaz. II, 3955). The Attorney General of Canada argued that the applications for habeas corpus are civil in nature since they are based on administrative decisions made by CSC and that the appellants should have filed their notice of appeal within the 10-day time limit under article 361 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CQLR c C-25.01) (C.C.P.) instead.

The nature of habeas corpus depends on the characterization of the procedure or decision that led to the deprivation of liberty. If the proceedings giving rise to the deprivation of an inmate’s liberty directly concern an order to stand trial and sentencing, the matter is criminal and the habeas corpus proceeding is criminal in nature. Conversely, where the deprivation of liberty is the result of an administrative or civil procedure or decision, devoid of any punitive character, the application for habeas corpus is then civil in nature.

The decision to involuntarily transfer is an administrative decision of a civil nature. It is essentially related to the management of the risk posed by inmates and the maintenance of order within the institution. It does not concern their conviction or sentencing, nor does it cast doubt on their innocence. Such an application is also not instituted by a person in custody “by reason that he is charged with or has been convicted of an offence” within the meaning of section 775 of the Cr. C. Thus, habeas corpus applications arising from the decision to involuntarily transfer inmates are subject to civil procedure, not criminal procedure. Appeals from such judgments are therefore subject to the 10-day time limit for appeal in article 361 C.C.P. This time limit for appeal is a strict time limit, and the right to appeal is forfeited on its expiry under article 363 C.C.P. The appellants have not presented an application to be relieved of their failure to appeal within the specified time limit, and more than six months have elapsed since the judgment in first instance. Consequently, the right to appeal is forfeited.

*Summary by SOQUIJ
Text of the decision: Http://


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