Tradition and Change Under the Charter: The Adversary System, Third Party Interests and the Legitimacy of Criminal Justice in Canada

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Source Publication

The Charter’s Impact on the Criminal Justice System. Toronto, ON: Carswell, 1996.


Canada; change; charter; criminal; criminal justice system; impact; jamie cameron; justice; system; tradition


This chapter examines the Charter’s impact on the criminal justice system from the perspective of third parties and the ways they have changed the traditional conception of the criminal trial as a contest between two adversaries – the Crown and the accused. As demonstrated by Dagenais v. CBC and the cases on the rights of complainants (especially in sexual assault proceedings), the arrival of third party stakeholders has created new dynamics for the Crown and the accused, and has forced the Supreme Court to address the status of third party entitlements under the Charter. This chapter examines the interface between continuity and change in sections that discuss the adversarial conception of criminal justice, the dynamics of constitutional change, and the legitimacy of the justice system. It calls for a conceptualization of criminal justice that reconciles the traditional understanding of criminal justice with the entitlements which have been conferred on third parties under the Charter.

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