Wednesday: What’s Hot on CanLII

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

For this last week:

  1. Wallman v. John Doe 2014 BCSC 79

    [1] Occasionally a seemingly innocuous event can have tragic consequences.

    [2] On the morning of December 4, 2006, the plaintiff, an emergency room physician, was driving his Honda Accord (“Honda”) eastbound on Lorimer Road from his home in Whistler, British Columbia to the Whistler Health Care Centre (“WHCC”). It was cold and snowing. The roads were slippery. The traffic light at the intersection of Lorimer Road and Highway 99 (the “Intersection”) was red in his direction. The plaintiff stopped.

    [3] When the light turned green, the plaintiff began to move forward. However, a highway snow plow truck (“Snow Plow”) proceeding northbound on Highway 99 slid into the Intersection, blocking the plaintiff’s eastbound route.

  2. R. v. Lloyd 2014 BCPC 8

    [54] The offender in the identified hypothetical would have a prior conviction for a designated drug offence which may be more than ten years old. He or she is likely an addict but may instead be a recreational user of drugs. That is a personal characteristic which is not relevant to a reasonable hypothetical. All sorts of drug users share drugs. A one year jail sentence for this hypothetical offender goes well beyond what is justified by the legitimate penological goals and sentencing principles of the CDSA. It is a sentence which Canadians would find abhorrent or intolerable. Accordingly, I find that the mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for one year required by s. 5(3)(a)(i)(D) of the CDSA constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

  3. R. v. Sekhon 2014 SCC 15

    [1] On January 25, 2005, the appellant, Ajitpal Singh Sekhon, was charged with unlawfully importing cocaine and unlawfully possessing cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. He was arrested when he attempted to cross the border from Washington State into British Columbia. The key issue at trial was whether Mr. Sekhon knew about the cocaine that was secreted in the pickup truck he was driving. The trial judge found that he did. He based his decision in part on the testimony of an expert police witness who testified about the customs and practices of the drug trade. One aspect of the expert’s evidence strayed beyond the proper scope of expert testimony. As such, it was inadmissible and should not have been relied on by the trial judge.

    [2] The flawed testimony upon which the trial judge relied forms one sentence of a 16-page judgment that is otherwise flawless. In particular, the trial judge provided a long list of reasons for disbelieving the appellant and rejecting his testimony as incredible. And apart from the one aspect of the expert’s evidence that he should not have considered, the trial judge provided an equally impressive list of reasons for concluding that the appellant was aware of the cocaine secreted in the pickup truck.

    [3] In the end, the only issue of concern is whether the curative proviso in s. 686(1)(b)(iii) of the Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, can be applied to sustain the convictions. I believe it can. While the error relating to the flawed expert testimony cannot be swept aside as harmless, the evidence establishing the appellant’s guilty knowledge — and thus his guilt — is overwhelming. Hence, the second branch of the curative proviso can safely be applied to sustain the convictions.

The most-consulted French-language decision was Quebec (Agence du Revenu) v. Services Environnementaux AES inc. 2013 CSC 65

[1] Ces appels soulèvent des problèmes liés à la détermination de la nature et de la portée d’ententes intervenues entre des contribuables relativement à la réorganisation d’entreprises, à des planifications fiscales et aux effets de ces mesures à l’égard du fisc. En bref, dans ces deux affaires, des actionnaires de sociétés commerciales effectuèrent diverses transactions pour procéder à la restructuration de ces sociétés et la cession d’intérêts dans celles-ci. Leurs ententes devaient être réalisées sans produire d’incidences fiscales. À la suite d’erreurs commises par les conseillers fiscaux des contribuables en cause, l’Agence du Revenu du Québec (« ARQ ») et l’Agence du Revenu du Canada (« ARC ») établirent des avis de cotisation réclamant des impôts imprévus par ces contribuables.

[2] À la suite de l’établissement des avis de cotisation dans ces deux dossiers, les parties concernées s’entendirent pour corriger les documents relatifs à leurs ententes afin d’obtenir l’effet de neutralité fiscale qu’elles recherchaient. Elles demandèrent à la Cour supérieure du Québec de rectifier leurs documents originaux, lesquels ne reflétaient pas selon elles leurs véritables ententes. La Cour supérieure rendit des jugements contradictoires dans ces dossiers, accordant la demande de rectification dans l’un 2009 QCCS 790 (CanLII), (2009 QCCS 790 (CanLII)) et la rejetant dans l’autre 2010 QCCS 1576 (CanLII), (2010 QCCS 1576 (CanLII)). La Cour d’appel du Québec fit droit dans les deux cas aux demandes de rectification visant à donner effet à la volonté réelle des parties 2011 QCCA 394 (CanLII), (2011 QCCA 394, 2011 D.T.C. 5045; 2011 QCCA 954 (CanLII), 2011 QCCA 954 (CanLII)). Pour des motifs différant en partie de ceux de la Cour d’appel, je rejetterais les pourvois de l’ARQ, déclarerais que les intimés pouvaient modifier leurs conventions et constaterais cette modification.

* 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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