Inactive appeal of litigant with cognitive disability allowed to proceed: BC Court of Appeal

Self-represented litigant had sued for unlawful arrest and negligent investigation

Inactive appeal of litigant with cognitive disability allowed to proceed: BC Court of Appeal
Neurologist report revealed multiple strokes cause of litigant’s cognitive disabilities

The British Columbia Court of Appeal removed an appellant’s appeal from the inactive list a second time and granted leave to proceed with his appeal against the City of Victoria.

MPW was subjected to unlawful arrest and negligent investigation in 2010. He sued the City of Victoria and the two police officers involved in the arrest and investigation. However, his claim was dismissed in June 2020.

MPW appealed the lower court’s decision, alleging that the judge dismissed his claims based on an incomplete record and denied him sufficient opportunity to present his case.

Notice of appeal was filed in July 2020. However, MPW failed to file an appropriate factum on time and his appeal was placed on the inactive list.

He attempted to file his factum and appeal book in September 2021, but the first was almost double the allowable length and the latter was incomplete. Nevertheless, the court removed the appeal from the inactive list. The judge noted that while the delay was considerable and inherently prejudicial, she still accommodated MPW given his circumstances.

Since it was incomplete, the judge ordered that the appeal book be amended, which MPW failed to do. The appeal was once again placed on the inactive list in September 2022.

MPW filed several documents in October 2022. MPW again sought to have the appeal removed from the inactive list. The respondents objected, arguing that the events that gave rise to the action occurred in 2010 and that the appeal had no merit.

The appellate court allowed the application to remove the appeal from the inactive list.

Accommodation due to self-represented litigant with cognitive disabilities

In M.P.W. v. Victoria (City), 2023 BCCA 14, the appellate court agreed that further delay is inevitable if the remedy sought is granted. However, MPW’s explanation of the delay referenced his cognitive disabilities, which impede his daily functioning, said the court.

The appellate court noted the neurologist’s report presented, which revealed that MPW developed multiple, cumulative, and small strokes which explains his ongoing symptoms that include reduced endurance, poor concentration, and impaired memory.

However, MPW demonstrated that his condition is not insurmountable, given additional time, said the court. The appellate court also found assessing the merits of the appeal difficult given the limited material provided.

Based on the factors discussed, the appellate court concluded that it was in the interests of justice to allow the remedy sought by MPW but limited only against the City. The individuals should not be made to continue bearing the weight of the allegations, said the court.

As such, the appellate court removed from the inactive list MPW’s appeal as it relates to the City.

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