Peter Sankoff is a Professor at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Law.  He concentrates his teaching and research on legal issues surrounding the criminal trial process and the relationship between animals and the law.

Peter is a member of the Ontario Bar, and occasionally acts as counsel for a variety of groups and individuals. He recently appeared as lead counsel for Animal Justice in the Supreme Court of Canada case of R v DLW (November 2015).


After graduating with a J.D. from the University of Toronto, Peter worked as a law clerk for Claire L’Heureux-Dubé at the Supreme Court of Canada in 1996-97.  He went on to work as Counsel in the Deparment of Justice (Human Rights Law Section) for two years before leaving Canada to take a post at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.  Peter worked as a Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer in Auckland from 2001-2010.  He joined the University of Alberta as a Full Professor in 2012.


University of Alberta: Peter teaches courses in Criminal Law, Evidence, Evidence in Civil Cases and Animals and the Law.

University of Auckland: During his time in New Zealand, Peter taught undergraduate courses in Legal Method, Evidence, Advanced Criminal Law and Animals and the Law, as well as an Honours course in Criminal Law and Policy.

Peter also co-taught graduate courses (LL.M.) on Comparative Constitutional Law (Freedom of Expression) with Professor Jamie Cameron of Osgoode Hall Law School at York University (2003), and Animals and the Law with Professor David Favre of Michigan State University (2006).

Peter has taught as an invited visiting professor in a number of wonderful institutions:

  • University of Ottawa, 2004 (Criminal Law, Constitutional Law)
  • Haifa University (Israel), 2008 (Animals and the Law)
  • University of Melbourne (Australia), 2009 (Animals and the Law)
  • Lewis and Clark College of Law (Portland), 2010 (Comparative Animal Protection Law)
  • University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario), 2011-2012 (Animals and the Law, Criminal Law, Evidence, Legal Research and Writing)
  • Niigata University (Niigata, Japan), 2012 (Canadian Law and Politics)
  • University of Auckland (New Zealand), 2013 (Advanced Concepts in Criminal Evidence)
With graduates of the Pasifika Honours Club, 2010

Other Major Academic Responsibilities

Peter was the Chair of the Admissions Committee at the University of Alberta in 2014 and 2015.  During 2013 and 2014, he was the Coach of the Faculty’s Gale Cup Moot team. In 2014 and 2015 he was jointly responsible for the Competitive Moot Selection process at the University of Alberta and sat on a number of other committees.

At the University of Auckland, Peter served as Academic Counsellor for Pacific Island Students  from 2005-2007, and co-founded the Pasifika Honours Club, a program to develop academic excellence in Pacific Island Students, in 2006.  Peter was also the Chair of the Information Technology Committee at the Faculty of Law from 2006-2010, and helped re-create the Faculty’s web page in 2007.


Peter has been writing legal articles on a variety of subjects since 1996, concentrating on six topic areas:

  1. constitutional law in the criminal context;
  2. constitutional remedies;
  3. the law of evidence;
  4. substantive criminal law and the criminal justice process;
  5. animal law; and
  6. legal education.

His work has been published in a number of the world’s most distinguished journals, including: the Queen’s Law Journal, the University of British Columbia Law Review, the Criminal Law Quarterly, The New Zealand Law Review and the Animal Law Review.

Peter is on the Editorial or Advisory Board of three journals: the Canadian Criminal Law Review, the Journal of Animal Law and Natural Resources (Michigan State) and the Global Journal of Animal Law (Abo Akademi University, Finland).

Peter is the author, co-author or co-editor of several books, including:

  • Witnesses, Canada’s leading treatise on the substantive, evidentiary and procedural law relating to witnesses (looseleaf 1991-current).
  • Canadian Perspectives on Animals and the Law, the first collection of essays ever produced in Canada to explore the legal relationship between animals and humans (2015).
  • Portable Guide to Witnesses, a condensed version of the larger work to be used by practitioners in court (1st ed. 2006, 2d ed. 2011, 3d ed. 2014).
With Katie Sykes and Justice Louis LeBel at the book launch of Canadian Perspectives on Animals and the Law: Toronto, April 2015
  • Animal Law in Australasia:  A New Dialogue (Federation Press), the first scholarly treatise on animal law published in the Southern Hemisphere (2009).
  • Animal Law in Australasia:  Continuing the Dialogue (Federation Press), an entirely revised edition covering new issues concerning the treatment of animals under the law. (2013).
  • Manning, Mewett and Sankoff on Criminal Law, 5th ed., a thorough treatise on Canadian criminal law (2015, also 4th ed. 2009).
  • Evidence Act Revisited for Criminal Lawyers, a comprehensive monograph analyzing the first two years of jurisprudence decided under the Evidence Act 2006 (NZ, 2010).
  • Canadian Encyclopedic Digest: Evidence for Thomson Reuters Canada (2011).


With my 2010 Honours Class

Peter has received awards and commendations for his teaching and research:

  • 2016, Clawbies Canadian Law Blog Awards, Best Video Blog
  • 2016, Brightspace Innovation Award for Teaching and Learning, Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (nationally contested award).
  • 2016, Tevie Miller Award for Teaching Excellence (Finalist), University of Alberta, Faculty of Law (award for teaching excellence in the faculty)
  • 2015, Clawbies Canadian Law Blog Awards, Best Law Professor Blog, Finalist
  • 2015, Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada, Nominee, Canadian Lawyer Magazine, (Criminal/Human Rights).
  • 2014, Information Technology Innovation Award, University of Alberta (university wide award offered to the member of the university who shows the most innovative use of hardware and/or software technology in support of research, teaching or service)
  • 2013, Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund Grant, University of Alberta (awarded to pursue study on the use of “capsule” technology in law classrooms)
  • With my team at the 2013 Gale Cup
    With my team at the 2013 Gale Cup

    2013, Gale Cup Team Finalist (Coach), 3rd Place (University of Alberta)

  • 2013, Animal Law Visiting Scholar, University of Sydney (Australia)
  • 2011, University’s Student Council Teaching Honour Roll, University of Western Ontario.
  • 2008, Assisi Award, New Zealand Companion Animal Council (awarded annually to those whose achievements echo the principles of excellence in animal welfare)
  • 2007, Special Commendation for Innovation, Equal Opportunities Office, University of Auckland (development of the Pasifika Honours Club).
  • 2007, Voiceless, the fund for animals Grant ($15000 AUD), to organize an animal law workshop and the first Australasian book ever  written about animal law
  • 2006, Early Career Research Excellence Award, University of Auckland.
  • 2006, Best Lecturer (2nd place), AULSS Annual Leaver’s Survey, Verbatim
  • 2005, Best Lecturer, Auckland Law Student Society Elective Survey
  • 2005, Best Lecturer, AULSS Annual Leaver’s Survey, Verbatim (tied with Scott Optican).

Last Updated: 4 January 2017