The Supreme Court of Ontario’s Ruling

Here is a summary of Ontario’s Supreme Court ruling based on the numerous articles written online

Since Canada doesn’t post their rulings in timely manner, we have to wait to see the official ruling, but we will keep you posted if anything has changed.

The Supreme Court of Ontario affirmed two-thirds of a prior ruling that had declared most prostitution-related laws in Canada unconstitutional, at least as applied in Ontario. There are three parts to the ruling.

The easiest to understand is the portion which declares invalid the prohibition against “keeping a bawdy house” which means that escorts can maintain a residence or have a standing relationship with a hotel even if the purpose of that residence or hotel is to provide a location for prostitution-related activities. This provision of the ruling will not take effect for one year, to allow for Parliament to create new laws that are consistent with the ruling.

The second part of the ruling reverses the lower court and reinstates the laws prohibiting communicating for the purpose of prostitution, which essentially outlaws most forms of open communication, such as advertising or soliciting for prostitution.

The final part of the ruling is the least clear. The Court struck down the laws prohibiting “living off the avails of prostitution” in Section 212(1)(j) of the criminal code, but only with regard to persons who do not do so “in circumstances of exploitation.”

This part of the ruling becomes effective in thirty days. Like many court decisions, this one likely has simply set the stage for more litigation in the future, as the court declined to define what exactly constitutes “circumstances of exploitation.”
The Crown’s initial position appears to be that conventional escort agencies would continue to be illegal as they are necessarily “exploitative.”

Commentators are lining up on both sides of this issue with legal experts similarly split. Perhaps the most cogent analysis on the subject came from a barrister who suggested that the intention of the court was to look at the “direction” of the transaction. Essentially, if it is the escort hiring the staff (drivers, bodyguards and office workers), it would be allowed, but if it is an organization seeking to hire prostitutes to work for them, it would not be allowed.

Specifically, the court seemed interested in the question of whether a person who was already a prostitute was taking actions to protect themself vs. whether a business was attempting to induce people to become prostitutes who were not that already.

Essentially, as long as the sex worker is in control of the support staff, it will not be seen as exploitative, but if it is others who are in control of the escort, it would be. Of course, this is all subject to future interpretation.

While it is a substantial loosening of current restrictions, it is not the complete victory that the plaintiffs had hoped for. One additional reason why the ruling was not as instructive as it could have been is that the plaintiffs were generally street prostitutes and the arguments made in the case were basically arguments surrounding the practice of prostitution, not what is traditionally known as “escorting.”


This is Michelle talking now…

What I find amusing is that there are many workers worldwide who are abused by their employers, but they somehow think that an agency hiring escorts is abusive. Yes there are employment rights, but how many workers actually take a company to court & if they wanted to make sure escorts weren’t abused, they could have a set or rules to prevent this from happening.

We have figured out a loose way to run an escort agency without this being a problem. I will keep you posted as I get that information together.

 

The Escort Law Review

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