The Criminal Code gives the federal Minister of Justice the power to review a conviction under a federal law to determine whether there may have been a miscarriage of justice. If a miscarriage of justice likely occurred, the Minister of Justice has the authority to order a new trial or refer the matter to the court of appeal for the province or the territory in question.

If you want your conviction reviewed, you must submit an application to the Minister of Justice. You can prepare the application yourself, or have a representative (e.g. your lawyer) prepare the application on your behalf.

Basic Principles

The powers of the Minister of Justice to review convictions are set out in sections 696.1 to 696.6 of the Criminal Code. The procedure that applies to conviction reviews is laid out in the Regulations Respecting Applications for Ministerial Review - Miscarriages of Justice.

The Minister’s power to correct a miscarriage of justice is an “extraordinary” one, not intended to serve as a further appeal. The role of the Minister is not to second-guess the decision rendered by the courts or to substitute his or her opinion of the evidence or the arguments already considered by the courts. Nor does the Minister decide if a convicted person is guilty or innocent. That role is assigned to the courts.

When deciding whether a miscarriage of justice likely occurred, the Minister will take into account all relevant matters, including whether the application is supported by new matters of significance that were not considered by the courts.