Wednesday: What’s Hot on CanLII

Each Wednesday we tell you which three English-language cases and French-language cases have been the most viewed* on CanLII and we give you a small sense of what the cases are about.

For this last week, the most-consulted three English-language decisions were:

1. Denis v Sauvageau, 2022 ABCA 166

[31] Granting a stay of proceedings pending appeal does not send a message that an appeal has merit. All it says is that there is a serious question to be decided about the contempt finding and that the remainder of the test for a stay has been met. The serious question threshold is low: it means that the appeal is not frivolous or vexatious. A stay need say no more about the merits than that. Indeed, courts deciding stay applications normally should not say any more than that: RJR-MacDonald at p 338. Granting a stay pending appeal does not indicate that the appeal is meritorious, strong, or likely to succeed. Conversely, denying a stay because the irreparable harm or balance of convenience parts of the test have not been met does not indicate that the appeal is bound to fail or is weak etc. So, if the purpose of obtaining the stay is to try to send a message that the appeal from the contempt finding has merit, and thereby restore reputation, that overstates the symbolic effect of a stay.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

2. R. v. Sullivan, 2022 SCC 19

[75] The principle of judicial comity — that judges treat fellow judges’ decisions with courtesy and consideration — as well as the rule of law principles supporting stare decisis mean that prior decisions should be followed unless the Spruce Mills criteria are met. Correctly stated and applied, the Spruce Mills criteria strike the appropriate balance between the competing demands of certainty, correctness and the even-handed development of the law. Trial courts should only depart from binding decisions issued by a court of coordinate jurisdiction in three narrow circumstances:

1. The rationale of an earlier decision has been undermined by subsequent appellate decisions;

2. The earlier decision was reached per incuriam (“through carelessness” or “by inadvertence”); or

3. The earlier decision was not fully considered, e.g. taken in exigent circumstances.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

3. Tallcree First Nation v Rath & Company, 2022 ABCA 174

[58] The reasonableness of a retainer agreement should be measured on an objective basis having regard to the risks, facts and prospects underlying of the retainer: Morrison at para. 27(a). Reasonableness is to be determined based on the circumstances that existed when the retainer agreement was entered into: R. 10.19(2). An unexpectedly high fee does not necessarily mean that the agreement was unreasonable. Clients should not routinely be able to walk away from agreements they have made with their lawyers. In determining “reasonableness”, consideration must be given to the interests and expectations of both the client and the lawyer: Morrison at para. 27. As the Review Officer noted, a client’s unhappiness often first manifests itself after the lawyer has done all the work and incurred all the risk.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

The most-consulted three French-language decisions were:

1. Ponce c. Société d’investissements Rhéaume ltée, 2021 QCCA 1363

[85] Le champ d’application de l’obligation de renseignement est vaste : cette obligation « englobe toute information déterminante pour une partie à un contrat »[111].

[86] Les critères généraux de l’obligation de renseignement sont établis par l’arrêt Bail : (1) la connaissance, réelle ou présumée, de l’information par la partie débitrice de l’obligation de renseignement; (2) la nature déterminante de l’information en question; et (3) l’impossibilité du créancier de l’obligation de se renseigner soi-même, ou la confiance légitime du créancier envers le débiteur[112].

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

2. R. c. Brunelle, 2021 QCCA 1317

[76] Les policiers doivent, certes, informer la personne qu’ils arrêtent de son droit de recourir sans délai aux services d’un avocat et cela dès le moment où ils procèdent à son arrestation. Il s’agit là du premier volet du droit à l’assistance d’un avocat. L’obligation de lui donner une opportunité raisonnable de le faire, qui en constitue le second volet, ne prend pour sa part naissance qu’à compter du moment où la personne arrêtée demande à parler à un avocat ou exprime autrement son désir de le faire[33]. Ainsi, le policier qui a dûment informé de son droit à l’assistance d’un avocat la personne arrêtée, n’a pas à prendre de mesures pour lui permettre d’exercer ce droit avant qu’elle ne manifeste le désir de s’en prévaloir.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

3. R. c. Brown, 2022 CSC 18

[2] En common law, l’automatisme désigne « un état de conscience diminué, plutôt qu’une perte de conscience, dans lequel la personne, quoique capable d’agir, n’a pas la maîtrise de ses actes » (R. c. Stone, 1999 CanLII 688 (CSC), [1999] 2 R.C.S. 290, par. 156). On affirme parfois que l’automatisme a pour effet de provoquer des mouvements involontaires lorsqu’il n’y a aucun lien entre le corps et l’esprit (voir Rabey c. La Reine, 1980 CanLII 44 (CSC), [1980] 2 R.C.S. 513, p. 518). Parmi les exemples souvent cités, mentionnons le mouvement involontaire d’une personne qui a subi une crise cardiaque ou des convulsions. La conduite involontaire en ce sens ne saurait être criminelle (voir R. c. Luedecke, 2008 ONCA 716, 93 O.R. (3d) 89, par. 53‑56, s’appuyant en particulier sur l’arrêt Rabey, p. 519 (le juge Ritchie), et p. 545 (le juge Dickson, plus tard juge en chef, dissident mais non sur ce point)).

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

* As of January 2014 we measure the total amount of time spent on the pages rather than simply the number of hits; as well, a case once mentioned won’t appear again for three months.

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