This week at the SCC

This week, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear five appeals, including a couple of agricultural cases. In one, CP Rail is challenging a law that requires it to move grain shipments from one rail line to another. Another will decide whether farmers benefiting from price-stabilization programs can be docked because of other social assistance.

Dec. 8 – Quebec – Mennillo v. Intramodal

Commercial law: Johny Mennillo and his friend Mario Rosati joined to found the company Intramodal. Mennillo would provide the financing and Rosati would manage the company. Shares were split 51-49 in favour of Rosati. In 2005, Mennillo resigned as a director. He continued to finance the company but no longer guaranteed the debts of Intramodal. Upon being repaid, Mennillo was told he was no longer a shareholder, which led him to file suit. On appeal, the court found that Mennillo forfeited his shares in the company when he refused to abide by the original agreement. The SCC will review whether shareholders forfeit their stake under these circumstances.

Read the Quebec appeal court decision

Dec. 9 – Federal – Canadian Pacific Railway v. Canadaanadian Pacific Railway v. Canada

Administrative law: CP Rail is challenging Ottawa’s Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act, which gives grain farmers and other railway clients the right to “interswitch” their goods between rail lines within 160 kilometres at a prescribed rate. (The previous limit had been 30 kilometres.) CP alleges that by following the stated intentions of Parliament without an independent review the Canadian Transportation Agency had allowed the executive branch to unduly interfere with its independence. The SCC will review the extent to which administrative bodies must be free from such interference. A sealing order is in place.

Read the Federal Court of Appeal decision

Related news stories:
CP challenging extended rail interswitching rules, Ag Canada

CP fights back over Ottawa’s new railway regulations, The Globe and Mail

Dec. 10 – Quebec – Ferme Vi-Ber v. Financière Agricole du Québec and Lafortune v. Financière Agricole du Québec

Agriculture law: The applicants in this case are farmers participating in Quebec’s Farm Income Stabilization Insurance Program, administered by the respondent Financière Agricole du Québec. The program ensures farmers receive a positive annual income by reimbursing them when costs rise above revenue. The applicants claim they are owed $92 million, arguing the Financière Agricole wrongly calculated their compensation. The SCC will review whether the Financière Agricole was within its rights to take such factors as social assistance programs into account when calculating farm insurance payments.

Read the Quebec appeal court decision

Dec. 11 – British Columbia – R. v. Newman

Criminal law: The respondent was convicted of first-degree murder, the trial judge having found that he stabbed and shot the victim while committing the offence of forcible confinement. On appeal, the respondent argued that the forcible confinement charge was not a separate act, as required for a first-degree murder conviction, but rather coextensive with the murder charge. The appeal court agreed, substituting the trial decision with a second-degree murder conviction. One judge stood in dissent. The Crown is asking for the first-degree conviction to be reinstated.

Read the British Columbia Court of Appeal decision

Related news stories:
UN gang killer has conviction downgraded to second-degree murder, Vancouver Sun

Engagement ring killer gets life in prison, CBC News

Dec. 11 – New Brunswick – R. v. McKenna

Criminal law: The respondent was convicted of second-degree murder for an incident in which the respondent claimed he had not been paid for renovation work. After drinking heavily, he went to the victim’s home armed with a shotgun and demanded payment. The appeal court found the respondent had not intentionally shot the victim, but the gun went off during a physical altercation. One judge stood in dissent, and the appeal is being heard as of right.

Read the New Brunswick appeal court decision

Related news story:

Widow of murdered tells court ‘I thought I’d be next’, New Brunswick Beacon

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