In 1999, a joint pan-Canadian settlement agreement was approved
by the court in all three cases. Under the terms of the agreement,
the Superior Courts of each province retained supervisory
jurisdiction over the enforcement of the settlement. The settlement
agreement specified that any supervisory order relating to the
administration of the settlement took effect at such time when all
three judges had handed down substantially similar orders.
Justice Winkler of the Ontario court, Justice Bauman of the B.C.
court, and Justice Roland of the Quebec court rejected the
provincial AGs' arguments on numerous grounds. The Justices
determined that the inherent jurisdiction of the provincial
Superior Courts includes the power to control its own process, and
that the ability to hold a multijurisdictional hearing outside the
Court's home province is encompassed within that power. In
particular, Justice Winkler stated, and the other Justices
concurred, that the Superior Court's personal and
subject-matter jurisdiction was "not lost simply because the
court presides over a motion in a location that is outside the
court's regular territorial limits." The Justices
also ruled that in the present cases it was in the interests of
justice to hold a multijurisdictional hearing as it would save
valuable court resources and costs, avoid duplicative proceedings,
encourage consistent judgments, and contribute to greater access to
justice in class proceedings. The Justices rejected the
submission of the provincial AGs that the same results could be
achieved by video-conference on the basis that the technology is
wrought with technical and logistical constraints.
The new Parsons decisions demonstrate that Canadian
courts are prepared to take a more unified approach to the
administration of national class action proceedings.
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