This week at the SCC

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear five appeals this week. Two of the cases ask whether Quebec courts can rectify a contract where the intention stated in the contract is different from the common intention of the parties.

Nov. 6 — Federal Court — Attorney General of Canada v. Kane

Administrative law: Robert Kane was employed in Service Canada’s Department of Human Resources and Social Development in Newfoundland. As a result of changes to the Public Service Employment Act, the department was reorganized. After much shuffling around, Kane applied for the position of regional manager. He didn’t get the job and was offered a position as staff member of the IPCS Support Unit instead. Kane filed a complaint with the Public Service Staffing Tribunal, claiming abuse of authority contrary to the act. The tribunal did not find an abuse of authority. The Federal Court dismissed the application for judicial review but the Court of Appeal granted the appeal and sent the case to a different tribunal for reassessment. The main issue is whether the appeal court gave sufficient deference to the tribunal regarding the interpretation of “abuse of authority.”

Nov. 7 — Ontario — R. v. Baldree

Criminal law: After Christopher Baldree was arrested for various drug offences, someone called his cellphone to arrange a drug delivery. A police officer answered the call, posed as Baldree’s successor, agreed to deliver the drugs, but the delivery never took place. At trial, the Crown used the police officer’s testimony about the phone call as evidence to link Baldree to the drugs. Baldree appealed his convictions, arguing that the phone call was inadmissible. The majority of the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and ordered a new trial. At issue is whether the phone call was hearsay and admissible into evidence, or whether the prejudicial effect of the evidence outweighed its value.

Nov. 8 — Quebec — Agence du Revenu du Québec v. Riopel

Commercial law: Professionals were consulted to draft a new contract for the planned amalgamation of Déchiquetage Mobile JR Inc. and Entreprise J.P.F. Riopel Inc. Under this contract, Christiane Archambault undertook to sell shares to the new amalgamated company, Entreprise J.P.F. Riopel. Three years later, however, Archambault received notices of assessment from the tax authorities. Riopel and Archambault brought a motion to the Superior Court to have the contract rectified, claiming that the professionals made a mistake and changed the nature of the contemplated transaction without telling them, therefore the documents they signed didn’t reflect their actual agreement. The main question is whether the Quebec courts can rectify a contract where the intention stated in the contract is different from the common intention of the parties.

Nov. 8 — Quebec — Agence du Revenu du Québec v. Services Environnementaux AES Inc.

This case is similar to the one above, only it involves a different company, where the main question is also whether the Quebec courts can rectify a contract where the intention stated in the contract is different from the common intention of the parties.

Nov. 9 — Alberta — P.D.T. v. R.

Criminal law: P.D.T. was convicted of sexual interference and sexual exploitation after evidence shown at trial included his videotaped confession to some sexual touching and the complainant’s testimony. P.D.T. argued that the video should not have been admitted and that the trial judge failed to apply the principles in R. v. W. (D.). The majority of the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal. The main question is whether the verdict was unreasonable. There are publication bans in the case.

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