Three separate class actions took place on behalf of individuals infected with hepatitis C, as result of tainted blood supply between 1986 and 1990. B.C. and Quebec courts oversaw actions involving those provinces’ residents, while Ontario action involved Ontario residents and those from all other provinces. Settlement agreement was made in 1999, authorizing three provincial courts to supervise claims and requiring agreement among courts for settlement to take effect. In 2012, class counsel made motions relating to settlement agreement, proposing that judges from all 3 provinces hear motion sitting in one location. Provincial governments opposed motion, stating that judges lacked jurisdiction to sit outside own province. On motions for directions, motions judges in all 3 provinces rules that they could sit outside province for purpose of settlement agreement motions. Ontario and B.C. appealed from judgment. Court of Appeal in both provinces found that it was permissible for provincial judges to conduct hearing, with use of video or telephone link. Representative plaintiffs appealed to Supreme Court, stating that link was not necessary for judges to hear matter outside of province. Ontario cross-appealed from judgment, claiming that there was no power for judges to hear matter outside of province. Parties agreed before Supreme Court hearing that judges had discretion to hear matter. Source of discretionary power and conditions of its use were still live issues. Appeal allowed; cross-appeal dismissed. Judge had discretion in national class action, to hold hearing in conjunction with other judges in related class actions. Discretion could be used as long as court’s coercive powers were not necessary, and hearing was not contrary to law of governing jurisdiction. Class proceedings acts in both Ontario and B.C. gave judges power to sit outside of province. Relevant law gave judges inherent jurisdiction to control own processes. Video link was not requirement. Court was to be guided by principles, including whether sitting outside province would impinge on sovereignty of another province. Court was to take into accounts benefits and costs of out-of-province proceeding. Court was to determine whether terms such as video link or extraordinary costs were necessary.
Endean v. British Columbia (2016), 2016 CarswellBC 2891, 2016 CarswellBC 2892, 2016 SCC 42, 2016 CSC 42, McLachlin C.J.C., Abella J., Cromwell J., Moldaver J., Karakatsanis J., Wagner J., Gascon J., Côté J., and Brown J. (S.C.C.); reversed (2014), 2014 CarswellBC 363, 2014 BCCA 61, Saunders J.A., Tysoe J.A., and Goepel J.A. (B.C. C.A.). (S.C.C.); reversed (2015), 2015 CarswellOnt 3336, 2015 ONCA 158, R.G. Juriansz J.A., H.S. LaForme J.A., and P. Lauwers J.A. (Ont. C.A.).