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Editorial: New accountants?

When lawyers and judges are portrayed in popular culture, mathematics is not the first thing that comes to mind. However, after Jordan, it’s worth noting the complex addition and subtraction required to calculate where fault lies for a particular case’s delay. Take the recent ruling in R. v. Islam.

The narrative — when reduced to its simplest elements — is an interesting one. A law student takes on the Crown over a 2014 traffic ticket, and in the process he wins a technological battle allowing him to serve the government using a web-based electronic faxing service, rather than a traditional fax machine. But in justice of the peace Joanna Opalinski’s ruling on the case, there’s more complex math at play.

“Using the test set out in Jordan, it has taken 21 months and 18 days for this matter to reach its anticipated trial date, which is over the presumptive ceiling of 18 months; while a pre-Jordan analysis places the time at approximately 8 months and 24 days, if one accepts that the time required for the court to render its decision with regard to the motion brought by the applicant is to be considered as neutral time,” she said. “If this time is not to be considered neutral time, then this time should be added to the 8 months and 24 days, which would bring the total delay to 12 months and 16 days in the pre-Jordan world. In any event, the court finds that by applying either a pre- or post-Jordan analysis, the length of [time] it has taken for this case to get to trial is unreasonable.”

So, in plain language, why does this matter? For one, as Opalinski suggests in her ruling, the calculations on how long it took the matter to reach trial varies, using different analyses.

Therefore, lawyers and judges, grab your calculators. Interpretation of delays may vary.

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