DATE: September 1, 2010
SUBJECT: This Practice Protocol describes the mandate of the Regulatory Prosecutions Office. It replaces the Guideline “Regulatory Prosecutions”.
Cross Reference: Decision to Prosecute, Prosecuting the Crown and Criteria for Appeals to the Court of Appeal.
Many statutes and accompanying regulations create offences directed to the prevention of future harm or loss through the enforcement of minimum standards of conduct, care, licensing and reporting. These offences are often referred to as regulatory or public welfare offences and are primarily aimed at deterring conduct that could result in harmful conditions being imposed upon members of society or undeserving claimants receiving the benefits of government programs. These offences deal with societal interests as diverse as Occupational Health and Safety, Workers’ Compensation Board and the environment. The alleged conduct may also violate provisions of the Criminal Code. Alleged violations of certain of this legislation are directed to the Regulatory Prosecutions Office, within which there are Crown prosecutors who are dedicated to the assessment and, if appropriate, prosecution of such allegations.
CASES CONDUCTED BY THE REGULATORY PROSECUTIONS OFFICE:
Crown prosecutors of the Regulatory Prosecutions Office are assigned files from the following classes of cases:
- Cases involving conduct that violates workplace safety legislation, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act and accompanying regulations, even where that conduct may also constitute a Criminal Code offence;
- Cases involving conduct that violates the Workers’ Compensation Act and accompanying regulations, even where that conduct may also constitute a Criminal Code offence; and,
- Cases involving conduct that violates environmental legislation within Alberta and accompanying regulations, even where that conduct may also constitute a Criminal Code offence.
Except as outlined in the guideline pertaining to appeals to the Court of Appeal (Criteria for Appeals to the Court of Appeal of Alberta), carriage of all such cases is the responsibility of the prosecutors in the Regulatory Prosecutions Office. Other prosecutors may, with the consent of the Chief Crown Prosecutor of the Regulatory Prosecutions Office, have carriage of any such case, but when doing so, he or she is accountable to, and is under the direction of, the Chief Crown Prosecutor of the Regulatory Prosecutions Office.
- Consultation with Investigators
Prosecutors in the Regulatory Prosecutions Office shall make themselves available as necessary and as circumstances permit for consultation with those who investigate their particular class of offences. Where feasible, prior to any meeting with the investigator in the respect of a particular matter, the prosecutor shall request and review a written report detailing the investigation to date. This should assist the prosecutor in providing advice to the investigating agency.
- The Decision to Prosecute
Although investigators may consult from time to time with the prosecutor, it is the prosecutor who, mindful of the parameters in the Guideline the Decision to Prosecute, decides whether the evidential test and public interest factors justify charges being preferred. It is only if the prosecutor reaches that independent conclusion that a prosecution will be commenced.
- Prosecuting the Crown
On occasion, it may be alleged that government departments, Crown corporations, Crown agencies, or their employees have engaged in proscribed conduct. In such circumstances, prosecutors may have to consider prosecuting another arm of the government. In such circumstances it will be necessary to manage potential conflicts of interest that may arise as outlined in the Practice Protocol: Prosecuting the Crown.