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Ontario Appeal Court rules ‘meaningful inquiryʼ required on offenderʼs ability to pay restitution

A recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision “makes clear that the criminal justice system isnʼt a civil recovery mechanism, and that the imposition of a restitution order that an accused will never be able to pay is essentially a financial life sentence and creates a debtorsʼ prison,” according to Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Michael Spratt.

In R. v. Robertson 2020 ONCA 367, released on June 11, Ontarioʼs highest court set aside restitution orders for appellant Shaine Robertson to pay $15,698.34 to businesses he damaged while on what the court described as a “drug-fuelled rampage” in Cornwall, Ont.


Spratt, a partner at Abergel Goldstein & Partners LLP, said the Supreme Court of Canada addressed restitution in a different context two years ago in a case involving offenders who live in serious poverty and face some combination of addiction, mental illness and disability.

Read Christopher Guly’s full article: The Lawyer’s Daily

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