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Information inputted into the database now includes the style of cause, the application and hearing and decision dates, the result, the type of law involved, whether the decisions are unanimous or include dissents or concurrences, which judges served on the panel and what reasons they wrote or signed, which court the case is being appealed from, whether the action was successful in that court and whether the decision's set of reasons were unanimous, and a word count for every set of reasons.
From the beginning of Dickson's Chief Justiceship to the end of December 2006, there were 432 cases with 610 separate concurrences bearing 906 judicial signatures.
To put these figures in the broader decisional context, there were about 2,200 decisions handed down by the Court over this same period, which means that about one case in rive involved a separate concurrence (or, to put it differently, decisions outnumbered separate concurrences by about three and a half to one).
The separate-concurrence proportions do not parallel those of the overall caseload--there are almost three times as many Charter cases involving concurrences as one would expect from their share of the total caseload, and only about hall as many criminal cases.
Under Lamer's Chief Justiceship, the Court wrote fully half as many words in minority reasons as it did in decisions of the Court; looking more closely at these minority reasons, the Court wrote fully half as many words in its separate concurrences as it did in its dissents.
About one-fifth of all separate concurrences were less than one hundred words long, not enough for anything more than an enthusiastic paragraph.
I suggest that there exist seven different types of separate concurrences (with an inevitable but very small residual group).
It is intriguing that the judges of the Court have invented language for separate concurrences that clearly indicates from the very start the nature and extent of their disagreement.
My argument is that these occasions clearly identify a "judgment swing" as deliberations after conference moved enough votes to allow the initial minority reasons to become a judgment and vice versa; this has happened sixty times for separate concurrences (and ninety times for dissents) since 1984.
To anticipate my conclusion, the frequency of the various types is heavily skewed toward those types reflecting significant disagreement: although some separate concurrences represent rather modest levels of disagreement within the panel, concurrences typically organize around much more substantive and deep-seated disagreements.
Concurrences in this category are never the second set of reasons for a judicial decision, but arise when a decision of the Court is in place and a set of minority reasons has been written (separate concurrences are more likely, but one-fifth of the time it is a dissent).
If a single judge is to be associated with this style of disagreement, it is Justice Gonthier: alone, he accounted for more than one-quarter of the fifty-one examples of this category of disagreement, and conversely, this category of disagreement accounted for roughly half of his own separate concurrences (Justices Cory, La Forest and Lamer were in an approximate three-way tie for second place, each with about half as many bridging opinions as Justice Gonthier).
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