Pleas for equity often ring out in courtrooms. Lawyers may
invoke inherent jurisdiction of the courts and common law precedent
to seek relief. Are adjudicative tribunals required to consider
similar requests? Recent appellate case law shows that there is a
strong limitation on the grant of equitable relief by an
In Alberta v. McGeady,1 the Supreme Court of
Canada has dismissed leave against an appellate decision upholding
a lower court decision.2 The McGeady decision
upheld the importance of a tribunal's enabling statute. The
Supreme Court's denial of leave makes the decision persuasive
The Board's Award of a Remedy
Mr. McGeady applied for statutory benefits arising from knee
problems. The first adjudicator denied benefits on account of
section 6(1) of the Public Service Long Term Disability Continuance
Plan Regulation (Regulation). The first-level appeal adjudicator
upheld the initial denial of benefits. Mr. McGeady, supported by
the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, sought to appeal to
Alberta's Long Term Disability Second Level Appeal Board
The Board granted Mr. McGeady relief on a "broader view of
the circumstances" and in part due to fairness and
The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench subsequently overturned
the decision of the Board.5 The lower court's
decision is foreshadowed in the first paragraph by the following
This case is noteworthy because the Appeal Board deliberately
ignored the governing statutory provision and based its decision on
a standard it made up.
The Court of Appeal Rejects Equity
On appeal to the Court of Appeal, the issue was framed with at
least nuanced difference. The Board's decision was
characterized as arising from equity and the issue was whether the
Board had properly interpreted its granted
The Court of Appeal held that the Board awarded disability
benefits even though under its statutory authority it had no
specific authority to do so.7 The court
considered the Public Service Act, the Administrative
Procedures and Jurisdiction Act and the Regulation to
determine if the Board had broad powers to grant the benefits. The
court did not find statutory language granting the Board broad
authority to take action it considered proper.8
The Court of Appeal held that the award granting benefits was in
direct conflict with words in the related statute and therefore
Equity (or Other Remedies) Require Statutory Basis
The Court of Appeal distinguished the legislation of other
tribunals, such as the Alberta Labour Relations Board. The court
pointed out that these tribunals may have broader
authority.10 However, although not considered by the
court in McGeady, even in these types of adjudicative
tribunals, courts have sought statutory authority for the granting
of a remedy.11
Any grant of equitable relief made by an administrative tribunal
should arise from some language in statute or regulation. Parties
arguing cases before administrative tribunals should ensure that
the relief they are seeking (or the relief sought by the other
side) has an arguable home in the tribunal's enabling
3 Alberta v McGeady, 2014 ABQB 104 at paras.
4 Alberta v McGeady, 2014 ABQB 104 at para.
5 Alberta v McGeady, 2014 ABQB 104 at para.
6 Alberta v McGeady, 2015 ABCA 54 at para.
7 Alberta v McGeady, 2015 ABCA 54 at para.
8 Alberta v McGeady, 2015 ABCA 54 at para.
9 Alberta v McGeady, 2015 ABCA 54 at para.
10 Alberta v McGeady, 2015 ABCA 54 at para.
11 For example, in Canada (Canadian Human Rights
Commission) v Canada (AG), 2011 SCC 53, the Supreme Court held
that legal costs could not be awarded to a Human Rights applicant
The foregoing provides only an overview and does not
constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any
decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal
advice should be obtained.
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.
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