A Review of Brydges Duty Counsel Services in Canada


A review of the Canadian jurisprudence and the empirical literature underscores the importance of the provision of Brydges services. Thus, the purpose of this report is to examine the extent and nature of the provision of Brydges services throughout Canada. The two major components of this study consist of (i) a literature review and (ii) interviews.

6.1 Procedure

This study was based on an extensive review of the relevant literature and case law as well as a series of focused interviews.

6.1.1 The Literature Review

The first component of the literature review consists of a legal analysis of all of the Canadian cases that referred to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in the Brydges case (1990).[19]

Only cases decided in the Supreme Court of Canada and the provincial appellate courts were included in the analysis. The cases were identified by conducting a search of various electronic data bases that provided access to the decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada and the appellate courts of the provinces and territories - namely, Quicklaw (http://www.lexum.umontreal.ca); http://www.acjnet.org; and the Web sites of the various provincial and territorial courts of appeal. Where cases had been reported in Canadian Criminal Cases (3rdSeries), cases were retrieved from this source.

The review of legal and social/behavioural science literature dealing with the delivery of Brydges services and their equivalent in the United Kingdom was based on electronic searches of a broad range of data bases as well as the use of search engines such as Google (www.google.ca). The major electronic data bases that were searched included:

6.1.2 Interviews

The empirical component of the present research project consisted of 101 interviews with various actors in the criminal justice process - in all 10 provinces. The specific research instruments, which were devised for the conduct of the interviews, consisted of five standardized questionnaires that were specifically adapted to the respective group of respondents in each Canadian province (namely, legal aid administrators, police officers, judges, Crown counsel, and defence counsel). An additional standardized questionnaire was designed for administration to a group of accused persons who were in custody in Vancouver, B.C. The standardized questionnaires comprised both open-ended and close-ended questions, and were administered over the telephone. Therefore, the researchers were able to adopt both quantitative and qualitative approaches to this project.

Delivery of Questionnaires were emailed to most respondents was predominantly by e-mail. Many of the participants stated that they preferred to receive the questionnaire in advance of the actual interview to be able to prepare their answers and reduce the amount of time spent on the telephone. In some cases, the respondents decided to answer the questions immediately, and simply sent their responses via electronic mail.

6.2 The two phases of the project

The research project was divided into two, distinct phases. Phase I consisted of interviewing legal aid providers in order to ascertain whether or not they collect data concerning the provision of Brydges services. The interviews during Phase I were conducted during the months of January and February, 2002.

Phase II consisted of the administration of the standardized questionnaires. The interviews during Phase II were conducted from May to July, 2002. The main issues that were examined during Phase II of this project were as follows:

Telephone interviews were the principal method employed in the administration of the questionnaire. The only exception to this procedure occurred in relation to the group of in-custody accused persons. For this group, the principal researcher conducted face-to-face interviews solely in Vancouver, British Columbia.

6.3 The respondents

The present research project required that a small number of respondents be interviewed in each province of Canada. It was, therefore, decided that the choice of a purposive sample would be appropriate. The various groups of interviewees consisted of the following:

The principal researcher successfully interviewed 101 out of the 110 participants who were selected for this project (approximately 92 percent of the target population). The goal of this project was to interview two police officers, two Crown counsel, two Defence counsel, and two judges in each province. In addition, it was decided that one legal aid provider would be interviewed in each province. Owing to the practical difficulties and projected expenses associated with the conduct of face-to-face interviews with accused persons being held in custody, the decision was made to interview twenty such persons in one location - namely, Vancouver, British Columbia.

6.4 Selection of the respondents

In order to gain access to the respondents in this study, the following steps were taken:

  1. The principal researcher gathered the names of police chiefs across Canada by searching the Internet. Police chiefs were then contacted and asked for permission to interview two of their officers.
  2. The names of Crown and defence counsel were gathered by searching the Internet, under government listings. The principal researcher then contacted lawyers and asked them if they would be willing to participate in this project.
  3. In order to interview arrested and detained persons, the principal researcher contacted the Director of the Vancouver Jail. The Director allowed the principal researcher to interview arrested or detained persons while they were being held in custody. The interviews were conducted during a one-week period.
  4. The judges in the sample were identified following a request from the principal investigator to faculty members of universities across Canada. They provided the names of potential respondents in their local areas.

The following tables outline the number of participants who were interviewed during Phase I and Phase II:

Table 3 Participants of this Project during Phase I
Province Legal Aid Providers
Alberta 1
B.C. 1
Manitoba 1
N.B. 1
N.S. 1
Nfld. 1
Ontario 1
Quebec 1
Sask. 1
Total 10
Table 4 Participants of this Project during Phase II
Legal aid providers Police officers Judges Defence Counsel Crown Counsel Accused Persons
Alberta 1 2 1 2 2  
B.C. - 2 1 2 2 20
Manitoba 1 2 2 2 2  
N.B. 1 2 2 2 2  
N.S. 1 2 2 2 1  
Nfld. 1 2 2 2 2  
PEI 1 2 2 2 2  
Ontario 1 2s 1 2 2  
Quebec - 2 2 - 1  
Sask 1 2 2 2 2  
TOTAL 8 / 10 20 / 20 17 / 20 18 / 20 18 / 20 20 / 20

6.5 Statistical Analysis

The data collected from the questionnaires were coded and analyzed, using the SPSS program. In order to simplify the findings, the researchers developed a series of customized tables, which provide a quick and simple overview of the main findings (see Appendix A).

6.6 Ethics Approval

Ethics approval for the present research project was obtained from the Simon Fraser University Ethics Committee on April 24, 2002.

The researchers guaranteed absolute confidentiality to the respondents who participated in the present study. In order to achieve this critical objective, the principal researcher preserved the interview notes in a secure location. In accordance with the guiding principles of Simon Fraser University ethics policy, the researchers provided the following forms to the participants in this study:

  1. Consent form see (Appendix B)
  2. Information sheet (see Appendix C)
  3. Feedback sheet (see Appendix D)

[19] Since the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Bartle case (1994) incorporated the legal principles articulated in Brydges (1990), the sample included all cases that referred to either Brydges or Bartle (or both).