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The Old Spousal Incompetency Rule


  • The spousal incompetency rule does not extend to common-law relationships. As a result, an accused’s common-law spouse is a competent and compellable witness for the Crown at the accused’s trial: R v Nero, 2016 ONCA 160 at para 184; R v Nguyen, 2015 ONCA 278 at paras 7, 158



Spousal Communication Privilege



  • The spousal communication privilege is testimonial in nature. Properly invoked by the recipient spouse, it precludes the reception of communications during marriage as evidence in the proceedings. The information conveyed, however, is not itself privileged: R v Nero, 2016 ONCA 160 at paras  186R v Nguyen, 2015 ONCA 278 at paras 134-136; 




Section 189(6) of the Criminal Code 


  • Section 189(6) does not create a privilege, but rather preserves any existing privilege that attaches to information despite its interception: R v Nero, 2016 ONCA 160 at para 188


  • For the purposes of the spousal communication privilege, and despite pronouncements that the information itself is not privileged, s. 189(6) excludes as privileged any information the recipient “husband” or “wife” had a right not to disclose: Nero at para 189




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