Common Law Section

Common Law Section Faculty
Contact Information
Fauteux Hall
57 Louis Pasteur St
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 6N5

General Information:
(613) 562-5794
(613) 562-5124


(613) 562-5800 ext.3270
(613) 562-5124

Vanessa MacDonnell

Assistant Professor

57, Louis Pasteur St., Room BRS 423
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 6N5
613-562-5800 ext 7917



BSc (St Francis Xavier University), JD (Toronto), LLM (Harvard), of the Bar of Ontario

Vanessa MacDonnell joined the Faculty of Law (Common Law Section) in 2012. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law (JD) and Harvard Law School (LLM). After clerking for Justice Louise Charron at the Supreme Court of Canada, Vanessa joined the University of New Brunswick Faculty of Law, where she was an Assistant Professor between 2010 and 2012. Vanessa has been a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, and at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public and International Law, Heidelberg, Germany.  

Vanessa teaches or has taught criminal law, evidence, constitutional law, comparative constitutional law and administrative law. In 2011 she received the University of New Brunswick Faculty of Law’s Award for Teaching Excellence.

Vanessa’s current research focusses on a number of issues in constitutional theory, including popular constitutionalism, affirmative constitutional obligations, and the government's role in securing and promoting constitutional rights. She is also completing a project on the role of the jury in contemporary criminal law.

Follow Vanessa on Twitter: @vanessa_macd

Read Vanessa’s papers on SSRN:


Articles and Book Chapters

"Equality & Incrementalism? The Role of Common Law Reasoning in Constitutional Rights Cases after Bedford (ONCA)" (2014) 44 Ottawa L Rev (forthcoming) (with Jula Hughes and Karen Pearlston). 

"Internet Surveillance and Popular Constitutionalism" in George Williams, Fergal Davis and Nicola McGarrity, eds, Surveillance, Counter-Terrorism and Comparative Constitutionalism (Oxford: Routledge, 2014) 313. 

"The Jury Vetting Cases: New Insights on Jury Trials in Criminal Cases?" (2013) 63 Supreme Court L Rev (2d) 419. 

"The Constitution as Framework for Governance" (2013) 63:4 University of Toronto L J 624.

"Social Science Evidence in German and Canadian Constitutional Law: Some Comparative Observations" (2013) 32:1 Natl J of Constitutional Law 23 (with Jula Hughes). 

"The German Abortion Decisions and the Protective Function in German and Canadian Constitutional Law" (2013) 50:4 Osgoode Hall L J 999 (with Jula Hughes).

"R v Sinclair: A New Trend in Balancing Individual Rights Against Societal Interests Outside of Section One of the Charter" (2012) 38 Queen's L J 137.

"Developments in Constitutional Law, 2011-2012 Term" (2012) 59 Supreme Court L Rev (2d) 51.

"Assessing the Impact of the Ancillary Powers Doctrine on Three Decades of Charter Jurisprudence" (2012) 58 Supreme Court L Rev (2d) 225.

"The Protective Function and Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms" (2012) 17 Review of Constitutional Studies 53.


Notes and Case Comments

"Book Review: Juries in the 21st Century, by Jacqueline Horan" (2014) Canadian J of Law and Technology (forthcoming).

"Problems with the Newly Expanded Powers of Citizen's Arrest" (2012) 33:5 For the Defence 22 (with Leo Russomanno).

"Harnessing Debates in Comparative Constitutional Law as Teaching Tools: My Experiences in the Classroom" (2012) 6 Canadian Legal Education Annual Review 117.

"Novel Applications of the Statutory Defence of Duress" (2011) 84 Criminal Reports (6th) 316.

"R v. Lanteigne: The "Temporal" Scope of Section 11(b) of the Charter and "Process Control" (2011) 81 Criminal Reports (6th) 248.

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Last updated: 2009.12.15