INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION
This section exempts individuals not authorized by law from being held accountable for statements made under subsections (1) and (1.1).
131(3) Subsections (1) and (1.1) do not apply to a statement referred to in either of those subsections that is made by a person who is not specially permitted, authorized or required by law to make that statement.
Section 131(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides an exception to the provisions of subsections (1) and (1.1) of the same section. Subsection (1) deals with false statements made under oath, while subsection (1.1) pertains to false statements made in statutory declarations or solemn affirmations. The exception under subsection (3) applies in cases where a person who is not authorized or required by law to make a statement gives a false statement. This provision recognizes that not every person who makes a statement under oath, in a statutory declaration, or in a solemn affirmation is required or authorized to do so by law. For example, a person may voluntarily provide a statement to the police during an investigation or questioning, even though they are not legally compelled to do so. Similarly, a person may give a false statement during an informal conversation or in a non-legal setting. The exception under subsection (3) means that a person who makes a false statement in these circumstances cannot be charged under subsections (1) or (1.1) of Section 131 of the Criminal Code. However, this does not mean that the person is immune from prosecution for giving a false statement. Other provisions of the Criminal Code such as Section 137 (perjury) or Section 139 (obstructing justice) may apply in such cases. Overall, Section 131(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada recognizes that not every false statement is made in a legal context, and provides a carve-out for those cases where a person gives a statement without legal authorization or requirement.
Section 131(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada lays out an important exception to the provisions established in subsections (1) and (1.1) of this section. These provisions criminalize the making and publication of false statements that could harm the reputation of a person or an organization. Specifically, subsection (1) deals with the making of a false statement that is intended to injure or discredit another person, whereas subsection (1.1) refers to the publication of a false statement that is likely to injure the reputation of a person or entity. The exception established in subsection (3) of this provision is for individuals who are not authorized or required by law to make a statement that falls under subsections (1) or (1.1). This means that if an individual is required or authorized by law to make a statement, even if that statement is potentially harmful or false, they are not protected by this exception and can be subject to criminal liability under subsections (1) or (1.1). For instance, if a journalist publishes a false statement with the intention of discrediting a politician, they would be subject to possible criminal sanctions under subsection (1) of this provision. However, if a person who is not authorized or required by law to make a statement (such as a citizen who publishes a false statement on social media) makes a statement that harms someone's reputation, they would be exempted from criminal liability under subsection (3). The rationale underpinning this exemption is to protect individuals who may make false statements without any malicious intent or knowledge that the statement is false. It recognizes that not all individuals have the same level of knowledge, expertise or responsibility when it comes to making public statements. Some individuals may inadvertently make false statements, without realizing the consequences of their actions. For instance, a witness in a court case who testifies falsely under oath may be exempt from criminal liability under subsection (3) if they were not aware that their testimony was false. Similarly, a person who makes a false statement to the police during an investigation may not be subject to criminal liability if they were not authorized or required by law to make that statement. It is important to note that this exemption does not absolve individuals of civil liability for a false statement that harms someone's reputation or causes material loss. Civil remedies such as defamation lawsuits can still be pursued in such cases. Overall, subsection (3) of section 131 of the Criminal Code of Canada strikes a balance between protecting freedom of speech and preventing the intentional spreading of false information that harms the reputation of others. It acknowledges that there are instances where individuals may make false statements inadvertently, and provides an exemption for such cases.
Section 131 of the Criminal Code of Canada is a provision that sets out the offence of perjury, which is a crime that involves a person making a false statement under oath or affirmation in a judicial or legal proceeding. However, subsection (3) of the section provides an exception that excludes statements made by persons who are not authorized or required by law to make the statement from the scope of the offence. This provision has significant implications for cases involving evidence and witness statements, and it is essential for legal practitioners to consider strategic approaches when dealing with it. One strategic consideration when dealing with Section 131(3) is the identification of the individuals who are authorized or required by law to make the statement. The provision encompasses a wide range of statements made in legal and judicial proceedings, including the examination of witnesses, the presentation of affidavits, and the declaration of truth. Hence, the defence counsel must ascertain whether the individuals who made the statement are within the range of persons authorized or required by law to do so. This may involve an analysis of the specific laws, regulations, or rules that define the legal obligations and requirements for making statements. Another strategic approach is to consider the type of statement made by the individual in question. Section 131(3) exempts individuals from prosecution only if the statement they made falls within the scope of subsections (1) and (1.1). Therefore, defence counsel may challenge the charges against their clients by arguing that the statement does not strictly fulfill the criteria provided in the subsections. Alternatively, they may argue that the statement was made in good faith without any intention to deceive or mislead, which could result in a reduction or dismissal of the charges. The timing of the statement is also an important strategic consideration. In some instances, individuals may have made statements before being placed under oath or affirmation, and it may be difficult to determine whether they fall within the scope of Section 131(3). In such situations, defence counsel may argue that the statement was made in a non-judicial or legal context that does not fulfill the requirements of the subsections. Alternatively, they may argue that the statement was made in a different context from the one for which it is being used, which may weaken the argument for perjury. In conclusion, Section 131(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides several strategic considerations for legal practitioners when dealing with perjury charges. Defence counsel must carefully analyze the individuals who made the statement, the type of statement, and the timing of the statement to determine its scope and context. Employing effective strategies such as challenging the charges, arguing good faith, and questioning the timing could lead to a reduction or dismissal of charges against the accused.