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Ontario and Canada
Appeal Court Dicta

Evidence - Experts - Non-Opinion Evidence

. R. v. Millard

In R. v. Millard (Ont CA, 2023) the Court of Appeal considered two murder appeals, heard together. Here the court accepts the non-expert opinion of an expert:
[108] Nor did Dr. Burns present inadmissible opinion evidence. The information he offered was acquired through the ordinary experiences gained operating a veterinary business relating to the protocols and restrictions on incinerating animals. This was not expert information, since it was not the kind of information that could only be acquired and understood with special training or expertise: R. v. Lavallee, 1990 CanLII 95 (SCC), [1990] 1 S.C.R. 852, at pp. 871-72; R. v. Ajise, 2018 ONCA 494, at para. 23, aff’d on other grounds in 2018 SCC 51, [2018] 3 S.C.R. 301. Anyone with ordinary experience working in a veterinary clinic familiar with its cremation practices could readily have provided this kind of testimony, as it was neither technical nor complex.
. R. v. Vuong

In R. v. Vuong (Ont CA, 2021) the Court of Appeal cited the point that a witness, otherwise called as an expert witness, need not be qualified to give non-opinion evidence:
[48] The day after her ruling was released, this court released its decision in R. v. Ajise, 2018 ONCA 494, 361 C.C.C. (3d) 384, aff’d 2018 SCC 51, [2018] 3 S.C.R. 301. In Ajise, the majority held that a Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (“CCRA”) investigator did not have to be qualified as an expert witness because the witness offered only factual information that did not require expertise to present and could be assessed by the jury as a matter of logic and common sense.
. R v Sheriffe

In this criminal case, R v Sheriffe (Ont CA, 2015), the Court of Appeal made the interesting and useful point that an expert witness is entitled to give non-opinion testimony if it is otherwise admissible:
[106] A final point has to do with the capacity of an expert to give evidence of firsthand observations that she or he makes that may be relevant to issues at trial. The opinion rule does not bar an expert from giving evidence of fact: Abbey 1982, at p. 42. Put another way, an expert is not confined by the opinion rule to expressing opinions only. The expert is entitled to give evidence of firsthand observations, including for example, those made during a psychiatric interview by a psychiatrist called to proffer an opinion on criminal responsibility.


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