The Supreme Court of Canada has granted leave to appeal in Sinclair v Venezia Turismo. In light of the test for obtaining leave and the relatively low number of cases in which leave is granted, this offers at least some suggestion that the top court is interested in considering the legal issues raised in the case.
Tag Archive for: Canada
On 11 January 2024, the Apostille Convention entered into force for Canada. The accession of Canada to the Apostille Convention on 12 May 2023 was a milestone for the Apostille Convention and it is perhaps a development that has gone under the radar.
Considering that the Apostille Convention was adopted in 1961 (EIF: 24-I-1965), one may wonder why Canada took so long to join the Apostille Convention. This is primarily because there is no statutory requirement for the legalisation of incoming public documents in Canada. In its response to the 2021 Questionnaire, Canada indicated:
In Sharp v Autorité des marchés financiers, 2023 SCC 29 (available here) the Supreme Court of Canada has held that a Quebec administrative tribunal, the Financial Markets Administrative Tribunal, can hear a proceeding brought by the administrative agency that regulates Quebec’s financial sector, the Autorité des marchés financiers, against four defendants who reside in British Columbia. The AMF alleged in the proceedings that the defendants had contravened the Quebec Securities Act.
The courts below, including a majority of the Quebec Court of Appeal, focused the analysis on s. 93 of the Act respecting the Autorité des marchés financiers, CQLR, c. A-33.2, which grants the FMAT jurisdiction to make determinations under the Securities Act. They interpreted and applied this provision in light of Unifund Assurance Co. v Insurance Corp. of British Columbia, 2003 SCC 40, a leading decision on the scope of application of provincial law, which held that a provincial regulatory scheme constitutionally applies to an out-of-province defendant when there is a “real and substantial connection”, also described as a “sufficient connection”, between the province and the defendant. This test was met on the facts [see para 22] and so the FMAT had jurisdiction. This analysis is not generally understood as being within the field of conflict of laws. Indeed, the majority of the Court of Appeal “saw no conflict of jurisdiction or any conflict of laws that would require the application of private international law rules to this case” [see para 29].
A loose-leaf publication tends to stay as current as the most recent set of insert pages, and so identifying it either by its initial year of publication or its edition number can be misleading. For many years the leading Canadian work on private international law has been the 6th edition of Castel & Walker Canadian Conflict of Laws, with that edition first appearing in 2005. For nearly two decades, then, it has had the same year of publication and edition number, but as a loose-leaf (and as available through an electronic subscription) it has been kept quite up-to-date on a frequent basis. Now comes a new edition, the 7th, published in 2023 and with a revised title. The text is now called simply Canadian Conflict of Laws and its sole author, as was the case for the 6th edition, is Professor Janet Walker of Osgoode Hall Law School. The change in the title reflects the completion of a long process of transition from the original edition (1975) as written by Professor Jean-Gabriel Castel through some editions that were co-written by Professors Castel and Walker. Detailed information about the new edition is available here. It remains an indispensable resource in the Canadian context and beyond.
Two years ago, the Uniform Law Conference of Canada (ULCC) released a revised version of the Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act (CJPTA), model legislation putting the taking of jurisdiction and staying of proceedings on a statutory footing. The statute is available here.
The ULCC has now released a revised version of another model statute, the Enforcement of Canadian Judgments Act (ECJA). The original version of this statute was prepared in 1998 and had been amended four times. It has now been consolidated and substantially revised. It is available here and background information is available here and here.
Written by Stephen G.A. Pitel, Faculty of Law, Western University
The Supreme Court of Canada has released its decision in F v N, 2022 SCC 51 (available here) and the decision offers some important observations about the law on international child abduction. The court held 5-4 that two young children taken by their mother from UAE to Ontario are to be returned to their father in UAE.
The father and mother were engaged in a dispute over custody rights of the children. The court noted that in the removal/return context, it was not deciding the custody issue but rather deciding which court – Ontario or UAE – would decide that issue [para 1]. Because UAE is not a party to the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the issue of whether the children should be returned to UAE arose under Ontario legislation (Children’s Law Reform Act, RSO 1990, c C.12), though the court noted similarities between the two regimes [para 52].
Written by Stephen G.A. Pitel, Western University
Many Canadian and some other conflicts scholars will know that the Uniform Law Conference of Canada (ULCC) has drafted (in 1994) model legislation putting the taking of jurisdiction and staying of proceedings on a statutory footing. This statute, known as the Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act (CJPTA), has subsequently been adopted and brought into force in 4 of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories (British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Yukon).
Written by Stephen G.A. Pitel, Western University
The court’s decision in HMB Holdings Ltd v Antigua and Barbuda, 2021 SCC 44 (available here) is interesting for at least two reasons. First, it adds to the understanding of the meaning of “carrying on business” as a test for being present in a jurisdiction. Second, it casts doubt on the application of statutory registration schemes for foreign judgments to judgments that themselves recognize a foreign judgment (the so-called ricochet).
In this litigation HMB obtained a Privy Council judgment and then sued to enforce it in British Columbia. Antigua did not defend and so HMB obtained a default judgment. HMB then sought to register the British Columbia judgment in Ontario under Ontario’s statutory scheme for the registration of judgments (known as REJA). An important threshold issue was whether the statutory scheme applied to judgments like the British Columbia one (a recognition judgment). In part this is a matter of statutory interpretation but in part it requires thinking through the aim and objectives of the scheme.
By Stephen G.A. Pitel, Western University
In common law Canada, it has long been established that a court will not recognize and enforce a foreign judgment concerning title to land in the forum. The key case in support is Duke v Andler,  SCR 734.
The ongoing application of that decision has now been called into question by the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Lanfer v Eilers, 2021 BCCA 241 (available here). In the court below the judge relied on Duke and refused recognition and enforcement of a German decision that determined the ownership of land in British Columbia. The Court of Appeal reversed and gave effect to the German decision. This represents a significant change to Canadian law in this area.
The Court of Appeal, of course, cannot overturn a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. It reached its result by deciding that a more recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, that in Pro Swing Inc v Elta Golf Inc, 2006 SCC 52, had overtaken the reasoning and result in Duke and left the Court of Appeal free to recognize and enforce the German decision (see paras 44-45 and 74). This is controversial. It has been questioned whether Pro Swing had the effect of superseding Duke but there are arguments on both sides. In part this is because Pro Swing was a decision about whether to recognize and enforce foreign non-monetary orders, but the orders in that case had nothing to do with specific performance mandating a transfer or title to land in the forum.
I find it hard to accept the decision as a matter of precedent. The title to land aspect of the foreign decision seems a significantly different element than what is at issue in most non-monetary judgment decisions, such that it is hard to simply subsume this within Pro Swing. What is really necessary is detailed analysis of whether the historic rule should or should not be changed at a normative level. How open should courts be to recognizing and enforcing foreign judgments concerning title to land in the forum? This raises related issues, most fundamentally whether the Mocambique rule itself should change. If other courts now know that British Columbia is prepared to enforce foreign orders about land in that province, why should foreign courts restrain their jurisdiction in cases concerning such land?
In this litigation, the defendant is a German resident and by all accounts is clearly in violation of the German court’s order requiring a transfer of the land in British Columbia (see para 1). Why the plaintiff could not or did not have the German courts directly enforce their own order against the defendant’s person or property is not clear in the decision. Indeed, it may be that the German courts only were prepared to make the order about foreign land precisely because they had the power to enforce the order in personam and that it thus did not require enforcement in British Columbia (analogous to the Penn v Baltimore exception to Mocambique).
Given the conflict with Duke, there is a reasonable likelihood that the Supreme Court of Canada would grant leave to appeal if it is sought. And if not, a denial of leave would be a relatively strong signal of support for the Court of Appeal’s decision. But the issue will be less clear if no appeal is sought, leaving debate about the extent to which the law has changed.
By Stephen G.A. Pitel, Western University
The Supreme Court of Canada has granted leave in H.M.B. Holdings Limited v Attorney General of Antigua and Barbuda. Information about the appeal is available here. The decision being appealed, rendered by the Court of Appeal for Ontario, is available here. In the usual course the appeal will be heard in the late spring or early fall of 2021. The grant of leave is notable because Canada’s top court only hears a small handful of conflict of laws cases in any given year.
In 2014 the Privy Council rendered a judgment in favour of HMB against Antigua and Barbuda for over US$35 million including interest. In 2016 HMB sued at common law to have the Privy Council judgment recognized and enforced in British Columbia. Antigua and Barbuda did not defend and default judgment was granted in 2017. HMB then sought to register the British Columbia decision (not the Privy Council decision) under Ontario’s statutory scheme for the registration of judgments of other Canadian common law provinces. This required the Ontario courts to engage in a process of statutory interpretation, with one of the central issues being whether the scheme applied to the recognition and enforcement judgment or only to what have been called “original judgments”.
The procedure used by HMB for getting the Privy Council decision enforced in Ontario might seem odd. The Ontario application judge referred to the process as involving a “ricochet judgment”. As to why HMB did not bring a common law action on the Privy Council judgment in Ontario, as it had done in British Columbia, there appears to be some issue that such an action could be outside the applicable limitation period. British Columbia (10 years) has a longer limitation period than Ontario (2 years) for common law actions to enforce foreign judgments.
The Ontario courts held that the scheme did not apply to the British Columbia judgment or, in the alternative, if it did, Antigua and Barbuda were entitled to resist the registration on the basis that it was not “carrying on business” in British Columbia (which is a defence to registration under the Ontario scheme). The majority of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, perhaps proceeding in an inverted analytical order, held that because Antigua and Barbuda was not carrying on business in British Columbia it did not need to address the (more fundamental) issue of the scope of the scheme. The dissenting judge held Antigua and Barbuda was carrying on business in British Columbia and so did address the scope of the scheme, finding it did apply to a recognition and enforcement judgment.
In my view, it is unfortunate that all of the Ontario judges focused quite particularly on the language of various provisions of the statutory scheme without greater consideration of the underlying policy question of whether the scheme, as a whole, truly was meant to allow knock-on or ricochet enforcement. Ontario’s scheme is explicitly limited to allowing registration of judgments of other Canadian common law provinces. It strikes me as fundamentally wrong to interpret this as covering all foreign judgments those other provinces themselves choose to enforce. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see whether the Supreme Court of Canada resolves the appeal solely on the basis of the intended scope of the registration scheme or instead devotes significant attention to addressing the meaning of “carrying on business”.