Day: October 8, 2014


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By Jenneth Hogan

latinOBSCENE, OBSCENITY  [L. obscenus / foul, repulsive, filthy]
Designed to incite lust or depravity; also, conduct or language regarded as taboo in polite usage.

In Canadian law, the word is defined by section 163 of the Canadian Criminal Code. The prohibited class of obscene things is expansive, covering text-only written material, pictures, models (including statues), records or “any other thing whatsoever”. Section 163(8) defines obscene as any publication with a dominant characteristic of the undue exploitation of sex, or the combination of sex and at least one or more of the following: crime, horror, cruelty or violence.

The law states:

163. (1) Every one commits an offense who

(a) makes, prints, publishes, distributes, circulates, or has in his possession for the purpose of publication, distribution or circulation any obscene written matter, picture, model, phonograph record or other thing whatsoever; or

(b) makes, prints, publishes, distributes, sells or has in his possession for the purposes of publication, distribution or circulation a crime comic.

For this purpose, a crime comic is defined as a book or magazine that pictorially depicts and glorifies criminal activity. There are, literally, thousands of crime and horror novels out there, which makes you wonder why the addition of images suddenly makes the material illegal and raises issues of limitations on freedom of expression made under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But we’ll save that topic for another time.

The origins of section 163 date back to 1892 when parliament first passed criminal legislation on obscenity, officially termed as “Offences Tending to Corrupt Morals”. This would include “exhibiting a disgusting object”, advertising a medicine, drug or article for causing abortion or miscarriage, curing venereal diseases or restoring sexual virility.

In this day and age, where medical advertisements for everything under the sun, including Viagra and Cialis, appear during commercial breaks, it makes you wonder why and how this section of laws remains in the books. It is safe to say that drug manufacturers are well aware that section 163 also states it’s not an offence if it “served the public good”.

(3) No person shall be convicted of an offense under this section if the public good was served by the acts that are alleged to constitute the offense and if the acts alleged did not extend beyond what served the public good.



Emanuel, Lazar. Latin for Lawyers: The Language of the Law (New York: Aspen Publishers, 1999).

First Ever Citation Guide for the Courts of Saskatchewan, part 3

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By Ann Marie Melvie, Librarian, Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan
and Joanne V. Colledge-Miller, MacPherson Leslie & Tyerman LLP


The Citation Guide for the Courts of Saskatchewan adopts a hybrid approach when it comes to using periods within a citation. What this means in practical terms, is that all periods are removed from citations except those contained in proper nouns, including corporate names or abbreviations in individuals’ names.

You may wonder why there is a need to eliminate periods. What has the period done to us anyway? Or, you may be on the other side of the fence and wonder why periods need to remain in citations at all. Let’s explore.

There is a worldwide trend towards the removal of periods from legal citations. The Oxford University Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities and the Australian Guide to Legal Citation removed periods from citations. The 7th edition of the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (McGill Guide) also removed periods from citations. Harvard Law School’s Bluebook retains periods, but the University of Chicago Manual of Legal Citation (Maroonbook) has adopted a hybrid approach, removing periods from citations but keeping them when referring to names. So generally, the majority of the common law world has adopted or is moving towards adopting a citation style that no longer includes periods. In Canada, the adoption of neutral citations (discussed in our previous post) is a perfect example of citations without periods.

The removal of periods from acronyms makes sense. We do not write C.B.C., we write CBC. We write NATO, NFL, CFL, NBA, and NHL. We can therefore do the same with RSC, RSS, SS, SCR, DLR, WWR, CR, CCC, and so on. We know that “RSC” stands for the “Revised Statutes of Canada”. And we know that “CR” stands for the Criminal Reports.

Our Guide prescribes that periods should be removed from places in a citation where it is implicitly understood there is an abbreviation. For instance, the period after the “v” in the case name is removed; they are removed from print report abbreviations and from abbreviations to legislation. In criminal matters, periods are removed after the “R”.

However, the Guide prescribes that periods must be retained in proper names where their removal could cause confusion:

  1. They are retained where they exist in company names. Any periods are part of the legal registered name of the corporation and should be retained e.g., Coachlight Resources Ltd. v Duce Oil Ltd.
  2. They are retained when the names of parties are initialized e.g., H.E.K. v M.L.K., or Canada (Attorney General) v H.L., or anytime an abbreviation is used in the name of a party e.g., E. (Mrs.) v Eve.
  3. They are retained in author’s names when secondary sources are cited e.g., G.H.L. Fridman, Peter W. Hogg.

Note that within a citation, periods should be removed from “para” when dealing with a paragraph number and from “s” when dealing with a section number. But these rules only apply to proper citations. Within the body of a document, these abbreviations keep their punctuation e.g., “The Court made the following statement at para. 25.” In this case, because “para” is not within the citation proper, it must retain the period. Or, in this sentence “the Court called for a combined approach to s. 241(2) of the Canada Business Corporations Act”, the period is retained after the “s”.

One last place where periods will remain is in a list of authorities or a bibliography. In that case, you still continue to end each citation with a period. For example:

Canada (Attorney General) v H.L., [2003] 5 WWR 421 (Sask CA).
Gray v Wiegers, 2008 SKCA 7, 291 DLR (4th) 176.

So, what does this mean for you?

It means that you will have relatively few periods in your citations. But, as described above, you need to keep them when referring to proper nouns within citations.

This is part 3 of a 7-part series on the Citation Guide for the Courts of Saskatchewan:  Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

Ann Marie Melvie is the Librarian at the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan, having served in this position since 2001. She received her Bachelor of Education from the University of Saskatchewan and her diploma as a Library Technician from SIAST.

Joanne V. Colledge-Miller is currently an associate at MacPherson Leslie & Tyerman LLP, practicing in the areas of commercial litigation and class actions.