Is a Summons sent by email not legally binding?

Mojoman
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Is a Summons sent by email not legally binding?

by: Mojoman on
Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:58 pm

A friend of mine caused a rear end accident a few months ago that wasn't reported right away, but at an accident reporting centre a couple days later. The officer took her statement there, and that was that. Fast forward to last week, when the officer calls her out of the blue and says she's being charged with careless driving. He asks for her email so he can send her a summons to appear in court, which arrives via email a short time later. She contacted a traffic ticket paralegal and asked their opinion on it. They told her that because the summons wasn't delivered in person, that it wasn't legally binding and that she didn't have to show up to court on that date. Afterwards, if the Crown still wanted to pursue the matter, an officer would have to physically deliver it to her. Is this correct? Should she not go to court and hope the matter will just go away?
Thanks!




daggx
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by: daggx on
Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:37 am

I was under the impression that a summons had to be served by hand. In fact section 26 (2) of the Provincial Offences Act says: "A summons shall be served by a provincial offences officer by delivering it personally to the person to whom it is directed or if that person cannot conveniently be found, by leaving it for the person at the person’s last known or usual place of abode with an inmate thereof who appears to be at least sixteen years of age." So unless something has changed recently I don't think e-mail counts as proper service.


Mojoman
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by: Mojoman on
Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:31 am

She was asked by the officer to reply that she had received the email so she did. But basically everything that the last poster stated was what her paralegal told her. So does this really mean she can ignore the summons, or if she doesn't show will she be charged in absentia? She really needs to know for sure! Thanks!


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highwaystar
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by: highwaystar on
Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:36 pm

daggx is correct in his citation of section 26 of the POA----service must be done personally. There is no mention of electronic service in the POA or Rules of the Ontario Court. So, unless the officer has motioned the court to allow alternative service, email service is invalid. I have no clue why the officer would think otherwise. That's why I'm curious what jurisdiction this is from. After all, despite the general POA rules that apply across the province, there could always be a local pilot project going on. So, that needs to be assessed as well.




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by: Mojoman on
Fri Feb 27, 2015 11:42 am

It's for the Milton court, if that makes any difference. So, once they realize that she isn't going to show up, what then? Does the court still have the opportunity to deliver it personally after the fact, or will it just get dropped once they realize their error?
Thanks again for all your responses!


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highwaystar
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by: highwaystar on
Fri Feb 27, 2015 12:06 pm

If the court date is within 6 months of the offence date, they'll just re-issue the summons and personally deliver it. All your friend likely is doing is just delaying the matter. Still, there's nothing wrong with forcing them to do their job correctly and it doesn't harm her in any way.


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