Leave Applications

If your appeal at a provincial court of appeal was unsuccessful, you cannot appeal further to the country’s highest court—the Supreme Court of Canada—without first getting permission to do so.

The only exception to this rule is an “as of right” appeal, which is triggered automatically where an acquittal is set aside or where a judge at a provincial court of appeal dissents on a question of law. Otherwise, persons wishing to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada must obtain permission to appeal first, a process referred to as “obtaining leave to appeal”.

Of the 600 applications received annually, the Court only grants leave to approximately 80. If your application is dismissed, this decision is final and, absent exceptionally rare circumstances, the application will not be reconsidered. For this reason, it is important to choose your lawyer for this procedure carefully, as it is not the same as an ordinary appeal matter.

The nine justices on the Supreme Court of Canada decide what cases obtain leave and enjoy wide discretion to grant or deny appeal. Resultantly, the individual who drafts your leave application must have a strong understanding of the factors the Court considers in exercising this discretion.

While the decision to grant leave ultimately comes down to whether the case involves a question of public importance, this determination involves numerous considerations, and your chance of success can be greatly impacted by the framing of the issue.

Lead Counsel at Sankoff Criminal Law, Peter Sankoff, has successfully obtained leave to appeal to the Supreme Court on multiple occasions and is extremely well-versed in what is required to maximize the chances of your case being one of the 80 successful applications this year.

Peter’s success in leave applications is well-recognized by other lawyers, who regularly consult him on files for which they are seeking leave.

If you lost your appeal and would like to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, please contact us for a consultation. Our experience in handling leave applications enables us to determine the best grounds of appeal to put forward and evaluate the likelihood of a successful leave application.

Related Publications

The Law of Witnesses and Evidence in Canada

In The Law of Witnesses and Evidence in Canada, Lead Counsel at Sankoff Criminal Law, Peter Sankoff, provides expert analysis of evidentiary issues as they arise in legal proceedings. The book covers many questions that arise daily in criminal proceedings, including those related to hearsay, competence, compellability, privilege, examination, and cross-examination.


Criminal Law

In the 5th Edition of Criminal Law, Peter Sankoff co-authors a critical examination of the criminal law in Canada. Cited by the Supreme Court of Canada and appellate courts across the country, this book has proven to be an essential resource for Crown and defence counsel alike. The book explores numerous trial-related topics, including an analysis of Criminal Code offences and commonly raised defences.