Expanded Supports for Sexual Assault Victims

Free legal representation will now be guaranteed to victims of sexual assault challenging applications to have their past sexual history considered as part of the evidence in criminal court cases in Nova Scotia.

The move is in response to a recent amendment to section 276 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which guarantees complainants in sexual assault cases with the right to legal representation for hearings under that section. It makes Nova Scotia one of the first provinces to make necessary changes to ensure proper justice for victims.

Victims who need representation will be referred to Victim Services when Section 276 applications are filed, and then be provided with lawyers. The new service, working with the judiciary, Public Prosecution Service and Nova Scotia Legal Aid, expands on existing services that help provide sexual assault victims with legal representation for applications for medical and therapeutic records.

“We want to ensure that sexual assault victims have the supports they need to protect them from the trauma of having past relationships exposed in court,” said Mark Furey, Minister of Justice. “Access to legal representation is an important step in helping to make the road to justice and recovery easier for the victims and survivors of sexual violence.”

Survivors of sexual violence are also entitled to up to four hours of free legal advice through the province’s Independent Legal Advice Program