The Supreme Court of Canada has denied a leave to appeal arguing that the laws governing Nova Scotia’s legal profession are unconstitutional.
The appellant in Tupper v. Nova Scotia Barristers Society (Tribunal), had been ordered to pay non-pecuniary damages after a motor vehicle accident.
Thomas Percy Tupper retained several lawyers over the ensuing years for a string of lawsuits he launched. He believed several of those lawyers, together with the plaintiff involved in the motor vehicle accident case, had conspired in an insurance fraud scheme against him.
He complained to the Nova Scotia Barristers Society against seven lawyers, with a view to having them disbarred. This complaint was dismissed Feb. 21, 2012, by an NSBS review subcommittee.
Tupper then argued at the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal in January, that the court’s lack of jurisdiction to hear an appeal from a decision of the review subcommittee was a breach of constitutional law.
He claimed the Legal Profession Act and the regulations governing the handling of complaints against lawyers in Nova Scotia breached the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the Constitution Act. He argued the act and regulations treated lawyers differently from non-lawyers.
In a written decision, Justice Jill Hamilton said the appeal court was “satisfied” the constitutional issue raised by Tupper “has no substance.” The appeal was dismissed without costs.
Three months later, Tupper applied for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, which today denied leave without costs.
“It’s really easy to suggest there are constitutional issues around many things, but there wasn’t ever a lot of merit in this,” says Nova Scotia Barristers Society executive director Darrel Pink.
The case was a “sad” matter involving an appellant who was “not a vexatious litigant” and “believes in his absolute heart that something was done to deprive him of all the rights that he should have had,” Pink added.
The society did not ask for costs. Fees related to self-represented litigants such as Tupper are “the cost of doing business in a law society today,” says Pink.