Significant changes designed to enhance confidence in the criminal justice system among survivors of sexual assault came into force last week. The changes involve amendments to the Judges Act and the Criminal Code and are designed to assist judges in deciding sexual assault cases without the influence of myths and stereotypes.
The changes to the Judges Act mean that in order to be eligible for appointment to a provincial superior court, candidates must agree to participate in continuing education on matters related to sexual assault law and social context, including training on systemic racism and systemic discrimination. The amendments to the Criminal Code mean that judges are required to provide written reasons when deciding sexual assault matters.
These are positive changes for survivors of sexual assault. In essence, the changes are designed to increase transparency in the criminal process which will assist survivors in any civil litigation process that follows.
Janelle O’Connor is a civil sexual assault and class action lawyer practising at Murphy Battista LLP.