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Court of Appeal Clarifies Process for Charter Adjudication

The BC Court of Appeal released its decision in The Redeemed Christian Church of God v. New Westminster (City), 2022 BCCA 224. The decision clarifies a number of important procedural questions in respect of civil Charter proceedings.

First, neither s. 24(1) of the Charter nor Rules 1-2(4) and (5) of the Supreme Court Rules authorize a claim for Charter relief to be brought by petition.

Second, it is an error in principle to address a narrow issue such as standing in circumstances where the Charter claim cannot be adjudicated. The issue of severing and then deciding a single issue (such as standing) apart from the numerous other issues that are raised by a claim should be considered with reference to the factors articulated in the context of summary trial applications brought under Rule 9-7:

a) whether the court can find the facts necessary to decide the issues of fact or law;

b) whether it would be unjust to decide the issues by way of summary trial, considering amongst other things:

i. the implications of determining only some of the issues in the litigation, which requires consideration of such things as:

(1) the potential for duplication or inconsistent findings, which relates to whether the issues are intertwined with issues remaining for trial;

(2) the potential for multiple appeals; and

(3) the novelty of the issues to be determined;

ii. the amount involved;

iii. the complexity of the matter;

iv. its urgency;

v. any prejudice likely to arise by reason of delay; and

vi. the cost of a conventional trial in relation to the amount involved.

The proper test to apply to analyze whether a government’s exercise of a contractual right constitutes a “reasonable limit prescribed by law” under the Charter remains complex and novel and will be determined in a future case.

The reasons for judgment are available here.

The successful appellant was represented by Alison M. Latimer, QC and Alana Crouse.

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