Canadian Appeals Monitor Information and Commentary on Upcoming and Recent Appeal Court Decisions

This Week at the SCC (22/11/2013)

A Commentary on Recent Legal Developments by the Opinions Group of McCarthy Tétrault LLP

Posted in This Week at the SCC
Hovsep Afarian

The Supreme Court of Canada rendered judgment in two cases, granted leave in one case and refused leave in three cases of interest to Canadian business and professions.

In La Souveraine, Compagnie d’assurance générale v. Autorité des marchés financiers, 2013 SCC 63, the Supreme Court of Canada, in upholding the conviction of an insurance company for offences under the Act Respecting the Distribution of Financial Products and Services, reaffirmed that strict liability offences do not generally require proof of mens rea.  Moreover, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that although a due diligence defence is available in the regulatory context for defendants who reasonably believe in a mistaken set of facts, a mistake of law cannot, on the other hand, serve as a valid defence to a strict liability offence absent an officially induced error.

In Katz Group Canada Inc. v. Ontario (Health and Long-Term Care), 2013 SCC 64, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously upheld the validity of regulations prohibiting pharmacies from selling “private label” prescription drugs.  The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the regulations were consistent with the objective of their respective enabling statutes, which the Court stated should be interpreted generously.

In Abbott and Haliburton Company v. WBLI Chartered Accountants, the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave on the issue of the test for independence of an expert witness.

In Government of Saskatchewan v. Precision Contractors Ltd., the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal a decision holding that a class action proceeding, rather than a judicial review proceeding, is the preferable procedure for challenging the constitutionality of a tax statute.

The Supreme Court of Canada also refused leave to appeal in Weyerhaeuser Company Limited v. Lacey –  a case involving the legalprinciples surrounding the vesting of group health benefits for retirees.

Leave was also denied by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Alberta Union of Provincial Employees v. Alberta, in which the proper forum for handling the alleged breaches of the human rights of employees was at issue.

The McCarthy Tétrault Opinions Group consists of members of the firm’s litigation department whose practices focus on written advocacy and the provision of strategic advice and opinions in the context of complex business disputes and transactions. The members of the Opinions Group are Anthony Alexander, Martin Boodman, Brandon Kain, Hovsep Afarian and Kirsten Thompson.