Writing Reasons in Sexual Assault Cases (2024 Edition)

Date: December 5, 2024 / 11:00 am
Location: Online

Bilingual program with simultaneous interpretation
Participation in this program is approved under Section 41 (1) of the Judges Act.

***It is recommended to participate in the Judgment Writing Seminar prior to taking this course

Schedule: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm (Eastern Time)


Historically, sexual assault complainants have faced scepticism and hostility in the Canadian legal system. For example, the law used to permit invasive and humiliating questioning of complainants. Many reforms have been enacted in recent years to address this problem.

In addition, greater focus has been placed on the role of judges who decide sexual assault cases. Recently, amendments to the Judges Act urge the Canadian Judicial Council to provide judicial training on sexual assault law and social context. In addition, the Criminal Code now requires judges to issue reasons in sexual assault cases (s 278.98). This enactment may draw greater attention to the reasons judges give in these cases.

This online seminar will discuss how to formulate sound reasons in sexual assault cases using sensitive and appropriate language, and avoiding harmful stereotypes. The seminar will feature a combination of (1) lectures by judges and professionals; (2) exercises and small group discussions exploring common problems and how to address them; and (3) individual writing time to practice the skills gained from the seminar. In particular, the course will address the difficulties in expressing credibility findings with respect to vulnerable people and discuss the risks of relying on so-called common sense. Participants will learn how language and tone may be used to emphasize healing and avoid re-traumatizing individuals.

A fact pattern will be developed and participants will use this hypothetical scenario to practice the writing of reasons. Participants will leave with a greater understanding of themes that often arise in sexual assault cases: What do appeal courts look for? Should oral reasons differ from written ones? What kinds of common and subtle stereotypes should judges keep in mind (and out of their reasons)?

Keynote Speaker

  • The Honourable Justice Andromache Karakatsanis, Supreme Court of Canada


  • The Honourable Justice Suzanne Boucher, Ontario Superior Court of Justice
  • The Honourable Justice P. Colleen Suche, Court of King’s Bench of Manitoba; CIAJ’s Past President


Please contact the Project Manager of Judicial Programs, Vicki Gondek
Tel.: 514-731-2855, extension 6
Email: vicki.gondek@ciaj-icaj.ca

Cancellation Policy:

  • 30 days or more before the event: Administration fees of $40
  • 7 days or more before the event: 50% of registration fees
  • Less than 7 days before the event: No refund

At any time, a participant may be replaced by another person without charge