Protection against cruel punishment doesn’t apply to corporations: Supreme Court

Supreme Court of Canada

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada says only people, not corporations, benefit from the charter protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

The decision comes today in a case involving a numbered company that faced a fine under the Quebec Building Act for work done without a licence.

The corporation was fined $30,843 upon being found guilty.

The corporation challenged the constitutionality of the fine, arguing it violated the guarantee of protection against “any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment” in Section 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Quebec Superior Court ruled that corporations are not protected under the constitutional provision.

However, the Quebec Court of Appeal overturned the finding and said the section can in fact apply, sending the matter back to trial court to rule on the issue of the fine.