Federal Appeal

Civil Practice and Procedure


Statement of claim

Federal Court has jurisdiction over acts and omissions of officers, agents or servants of Crown

Plaintiff RD was status Indian and partner of plaintiff R partnership that had federal licence to sell tobacco products on reserves. RD was charged with violations of provincial Tobacco Tax Acts for failing to possess provincial tobacco permits and federal tobacco licence was not renewed. Plaintiffs brought action against multiple parties, including federal Crown, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) employees, and RCMP officers. Prothonotary granted federal Crown’s motion and struck statement of claim against all defendants except federal Crown. Federal Court judge allowed plaintiffs' appeal in respect of CRA employees and RCMP officers (individual defendants) and re-added individual defendants to style of cause. Judge held that prothonotary’s order was clearly wrong in holding that Federal Court lacked jurisdiction over claim against individual defendants on basis that their presence was not vital to final issue of case, which was not requirement in test. Judge held that it was not plain and obvious that Federal Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain claims against individual defendants, as three-part test was met. Section 17(5)(b) of Federal Courts Act conferred jurisdiction to Federal Court over acts and omissions of officers, agents or servants of Crown. While plaintiffs’ causes of action against individual defendants may be based in civil liability and in tort, claim was that individual defendants’ conduct was not authorized by federal legislation under which they purported to act. Plaintiffs successfully demonstrated that their claim was in pith and substance based on federal law and was governed by detailed federal statutory framework essential to outcome of the case. Individual defendants appealed. Appeal dismissed. Plaintiffs’ action against individual defendants was not bereft of any possibility of success at this time.
Canada v. Dickson (2017), 2017 CarswellNat 4749, 2017 FCA 198, M. Nadon J.A., Gauthier J.A., and Trudel J.A. (F.C.A.); affirmed (2016), 2016 CarswellNat 10762, 2016 CarswellNat 3210, 2016 FC 836, 2016 CF 836, Sylvie E. Roussel J. (F.C.).


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