The Supreme Court of Canada released one decision this week of
interest to Canadian businesses and professions.
In Conseil scolaire francophone de la
Colombie‑Britannique v. British Columbia, 2013 SCC 42, Wagner J. for
the majority held that documents submitted to the British
Columbia courts for use in civil proceedings (in this case,
affidavit exhibits) must either be in English, or accompanied by an
English translation. Wagner J. based his
judgment not only upon Rule 22-3 of the B.C. Supreme Court
Civil Rules (which provides that "every document prepared
for use in the court must be in the English language"), but
also upon a 1731 English statute that he found was
received into British Columbia law under the s. 2 of the B.C.
Law and Equity Act. The 1731 statute requires
that all "proceedings" – including therefore the
taking and admission of evidence – be in English.
Wagner J. held that this conclusion was not inconsistent with
Charter values, since the Charter does not
require any province other than New Brunswick to provide for court
proceedings in both official languages.
In a dissent, Karakatsanis J. would have found that the B.C.
courts possessed inherent jurisdiction to permit the admission of
French language docouments where this would ensure the
administration of justice according to law in a regular, orderly
and effective manner.
The most interesting aspect of the majority's decision
was Wagner J.'s discussion of the doctrine of
reception. Section 2 of the Law and Equity Act, in
common with the reception statutes of some other provinces
(e.g., Manitoba and Saskatchewan), provides that the laws of
England in existence on the reception date (in B.C., November
19, 1858) are only in force in British Columbia to the extent they
are "not from local circumstances inapplicable", and only
then to the extent they have not been "modified and
altered" by subsequent domestic legislation. Wagner
J. held that this applicability test does not require the
English law to be necessary in the receiving province, only that it
be suitable to local circumstances there, which is to be
assessed but once, on the relevant reception date (rather than
on an ongoing basis, each time a party seeks to rely upon the
English law). As well, Wagner J. held that the
modification test allows for the possibility of an implied and not
merely express modification to received English law, and that such
an implied modification can occur where domestic legislation
merely "occupies the field", even if it does not
actually conflict with the English law.
Applying these tests in Conseil, the majority
concluded that the 1731 statute remained in force in British
Columbia, since it was suitable to local circumstances there
on November 19, 1858, and was not implicitly modified by
Rule 22-3 given that it was broader than the latter
instrument (having application to all court proceedings, as opposed
merely to documents filed in court).
It's not often that our little blog intersects with such titanic struggles as the U.S. presidential race – and by using the term "titanic" I certainly don't mean to suggest that anything disastrous is in the future.
J.J. v. C.C., is an interesting case in which the court held that an automotive garage owes a duty to minor children to secure the vehicles on the premises by locking the cars and safely storing the car keys...
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).