Mandatory Minimum Prison Sentence Challenge at Supreme Court of Canada

R. v. Lloyd, Supreme Court of Canada (Docket #35982)

On January 13, 2016, HALCO and its coalition partners presented oral argument in the Lloyd matter at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Our intervener coalition partners are: the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the Prisoners with HIV/AIDS Support Action Network, the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, and the Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs (together, the “Coalition”).

Mr. Lloyd brought constitutional challenges to section 5(3)(a)(i)(D) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which imposes a minimum prison sentence of one year for certain drug trafficking offences. He asserts that the minimum sentence violates two rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) because it results in:

  • a deprivation of liberty in a manner that does not accord with principles of fundamental justice (section 7); and
  • a violation of the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment (section 12).

The Coalition submitted that the mandatory minimum sentence in question violates sections 7 and 12 of the Charter because it prevents a judge sentencing an offender from considering:

  • the health consequences of a prison sentence on an offender who is drug dependent; and
  • the reduced moral blameworthiness of a drug dependent offender where the offence committed is connected to that dependency.

The Coalition also submitted that a drug dependent offender, particularly one living with HIV and/or Hepatitis C, is likely to suffer significant health consequences because of being imprisoned. A sentencing judge must therefore be able to consider these potential health consequences when deciding on an appropriate sentence, as drug dependent offenders, including those living with HIV and or Hepatitis C, are likely to be captured by the mandatory minimum, which would necessarily result in them serving a prison sentence (and therefore suffering even more significant health declines).

Other interveners include the African Canadian Legal Clinic, Pivot Legal Society, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, Criminal Lawyers’ Association, Canadian Bar Association, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, and the West Coast Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund.

Our intervener coalition Factum (argument) is available on our website: .


Here is a link to the April 2016 decision on Supreme Court of Canada website (2016April):

Here is the intervener statement post-decision:


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