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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. Hryniak v. Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7

[1] Ensuring access to justice is the greatest challenge to the rule of law in Canada today. Trials have become increasingly expensive and protracted. Most Canadians cannot afford to sue when they are wronged or defend themselves when they are sued, and cannot afford to go to trial. Without an effective and accessible means of enforcing rights, the rule of law is threatened. Without public adjudication of civil cases, the development of the common law is stunted.

[2] Increasingly, there is recognition that a culture shift is required in order to create an environment promoting timely and affordable access to the civil justice system. This shift entails simplifying pre-trial procedures and moving the emphasis away from the conventional trial in favour of proportional procedures tailored to the needs of the particular case. The balance between procedure and access struck by our justice system must come to reflect modern reality and recognize that new models of adjudication can be fair and just.

2. N. P. v. Canada Employment Insurance Commission, 2014 SSTGDEI 11

[33] The Tribunal is of the view that the Appellant could not be unaware of the scope of her actions, and that in this context, it does not accept the Appellant’s argument that it was [translation] “ignorance” on her part, a [translation] “lack of understanding” of the Civil Service Act, that she was not [translation] “aware of the exact procedure”, that she had misinterpreted it, or that she was unaware that [translation] “consulting a personal file was wrong,” which she stopped doing following her meeting with her employer on May 15, 2013 (Exhibits GD2-2 and GD2-5).

[34] Moreover, the Tribunal does not accept the Appellant’s representative’s submission that progressive discipline could have been applied to the Appellant prior to proceeding with her dismissal. The Tribunal considers that a number of warnings were given to the Appellant prior to her being dismissed, but that she chose to ignore them.

[35] The Appellant’s representative also argued that the Appellant never used the information to which she had access for personal use and that her actions had not warranted a dismissal, which was [translation] “far too strict,” in his opinion, which is an argument that the Appellant also made (Exhibits GD2-5 and GD2-6). However, the Tribunal notes that the case law has established that its role is not to determine whether the dismissal is justified or whether the sanction taken against the Appellant was appropriate, but to determine whether the Appellant’s actions constitute misconduct within the meaning of the Act (Caul, 2006 FCA 251 (CanLII), 2006 FCA 251; Marion, 2002 FCA 185 (CanLII), 2002 FCA 185; Secours, A-352-94).

3. Marineland of Canada Inc. v. Powell, 2014 ONSC 4740

[15] The successful party on a motion has a reasonable expectation of being awarded costs in the absence of special circumstances.[1] The general principles relating to the awarding of costs are set out in rule 57.01 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. [2] For a contested motion, paragraph 57.03(1)(a) of the Rules of Civil Procedure requires the court to fix the costs of the motion and order them to be paid within 30 days unless the court is satisfied that a different order would be more just. In the usual case, costs are ordered payable on a partial indemnity basis. Substantial indemnity costs are awarded only on an exceptional basis, saved for extenuating circumstances such as situations where there has been egregious conduct or where the motion was brought unreasonably.[3]

[16] The most contentious and time-consuming matter considered at the hearing of these motions was the continuation of the Garrett interim injunction. In that regard, Marineland was clearly the successful party. In his written submissions, Mr. Garrett’s counsel referred to aspects of relief requested by Marineland that were not granted as well as other factors that he argued justified a costs award in Mr. Garrett’s favour. However, in my view, those factors do not detract from Marineland’s substantial success as against Mr. Garrett, although they may be taken into account in determining the quantum of costs awarded (as indicated further below). In those circumstances and applying the general principles set out in rule 57.01 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, Marineland is entitled to an award of costs against Mr. Garrett.

The most-consulted French-language decision was Commission des normes du travail c. IEC Holden inc., 2014 QCCA 1538

[50] Je n’affirme pas ici, notons-le, que la succession de contrats à durée déterminée équivaut toujours, purement et simplement, à un contrat à durée indéterminée. Soulignons néanmoins que, dans Moore c. Cie Montréal Trust[30], la Cour, en obiter[31], s’est déjà penchée sur la question. Statuant dans le cadre d’une révision judiciaire, elle juge que n’est pas déraisonnable la décision par laquelle le Tribunal du travail, saisi d’une plainte régie par l’article 122 L.n.t., décide que les renouvellements successifs et quasi automatiques de contrats à durée déterminée engendrent un contrat de travail à durée indéterminée. Au soutien de sa conclusion, le Tribunal renvoie aux auteurs français Brun et Galland, qui écrivent eux-mêmes que « [s]i une série de contrats à durée déterminée se succèdent, ils s’enchaînent les uns aux autres en raison de la continuité de l’activité du salarié dans l’entreprise et ils forment alors, suivant l’expression même d’un arrêt de la Cour de cassation, “un ensemble d’une durée indéterminée” entraînant l’attribution des indemnités de rupture »[32]. Sans ratifier comme telle l’importation de cette thèse dans le droit québécois, la Cour, sous la plume de la juge Mailhot, écrit qu’elle ne peut conclure « que l’interprétation factuelle du juge est erronée ni que son interprétation juridique est déraisonnable dans les circonstances actuelles »[33].

[51] Si peu déraisonnable, en effet, que tout récemment, et de manière plus formelle, la Cour, dans Atwater Badminton and Squash Club Inc. c. Morgan[34], avalise les propos de certains auteurs et reconnaît explicitement qu’une « succession de contrats de travail à durée déterminée peut, dans certaines circonstances, être considérée comme une relation de travail à durée indéterminée »[35]. Dans cette affaire, la relation des parties, de contrat en contrat, avait duré 17 ans, ce qui était certes une indication forte de sa véritable nature juridique, mais ce ne fut pas là le seul élément auquel l’on s’est arrêté. Tant en première instance qu’en appel, cette relation fut examinée dans son ensemble, de même que le comportement des parties au cours de celle-ci et, entre autres choses, le caractère relativement informel des renouvellements, dont certains survenus après l’échéance prévue, etc.

* 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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