This week at the SCC

The Supreme Court of Canada will hear four appeals this week, the first of its spring session. Three of the appeals are Charter cases, with two of those labour-related.

April 18 – Alberta – Pintea v. Johns et al.

Civil procedure: The applicant commenced an action against the respondents with respect to a car accident in 2005. He eventually represented himself, and the case management judge told him to produce his witness list and comply with other procedural requirements, which he failed to do. Nor did he file a change of address with the court, as required. He, therefore, did not receive subsequent notices sent to him about meetings and applications and did not attend court as required, and he was eventually found in contempt and his action was struck.

Read the Alberta appellate court decision here.

Related legal brief:
Supporting the Unrepresented: Case Management of Self-Represented Litigants; (University of Calgary Faculty of Law)

April 18  – British Columbia – McKay v. R.

Criminal law; Charter of Rights: The applicant was charged with possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, a charge that arose from the seizure from his townhouse of cocaine and drug-trafficking paraphernalia during a search conducted by officers acting under a search warrant. The applicant planned to challenge the admissibility of the seized evidence, in particular whether it had been obtained in breach of s. 8 and should be excluded pursuant to s. 24(2) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as the sufficiency of the grounds to support the warrant. When the Crown did not comply with the trial judge’s disclosure requirement, the judge granted the applicant’s application for a judicial stay of proceedings. On appeal, the disclosure order and stay of proceedings were set aside and a new trial ordered.

Read the British Columbia appellate court decision here.

Related news stories:
Prosecutors appeal ruling on disclosing informer information; Vancouver Sun

For second time in a month, B.C. Court of Appeal overrules trial ruling concerning confidential police informants; The Georgia Straight

April 19 – Federal – Association of Justice Counsel v. Attorney General of Canada

Labour law; Charter of Rights: Since the early 1990s, the Immigration Law Directorate of the Quebec Regional Office of the Department of Justice Canada has asked its counsel to perform standby duty on weekday evenings and weekends, to respond to or present stay applications in the Federal Court. Counsel were compensated through management leave based on the number of days spent on standby. Starting April 1, 2010, the directorate informed its employees that they would no longer be compensated for their standby hours but would be paid in cash or compensatory time off only for the hours they worked in the evenings and on weekends. When counsel stopped volunteering for standby duty, the directorate required that all counsel be available for it on a rotational basis. The applicant, the Association of Justice Counsel, filed a policy grievance.

Read the Federal Court of Appeal decision here.

Related news stories:
Lawyers head to SCC over unpaid on-call duty; Law Times

Related briefs:
Labour law: Freedom of association (justice lawyers); Supreme Advocacy LLP

Leave to Appeal Granted: Association of justice counsel v. Attorney General of Canada; Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s Rights Watch Blog

April 20 – Quebec – Lajeunesse et al. v. Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail

Labour law; Charter of Rights: Les avocats et notaires de l’État québécois, or LANEQ, went on strike in October 2016. The day before the strike began, the Administrative Labour Tribunal (Essential Services Division) declared which essential services LANEQ’s members must maintain during the strike, which included applications for postponement. LANEQ filed an application for judicial review of the ALT’s decision on the grounds, among others, that the ALT had “failed to analyze the requested essential services in relation to the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada [in Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v. Saskatchewan, 2015 SCC 4, [2015] 1 S.C.R. 245].”

The applicant lawyers, Pierre-Michel Lajeunesse and Annick Marcoux, who are members of LANEQ, are counsel for the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (now the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail, or CNESST) in a case concerning the CNESST’s financing system. In that case, the Quebec Superior Court dismissed an application for judicial review of a decision of the Commission des lésions professionnelles. In November 2016, the applicant lawyers applied to Justice Julie Dutil, who chaired the panel of the Court of Appeal that was responsible for the case, to postpone the hearing until Dec. 6, 2016 in light of their right to strike.

Read the Quebec appellate court’s hearing report here.

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