Interests of justice may entitle court to hold hearing outside home province

Ontario civil | Civil Procedure

CLASS ACTIONS

Interests of justice may entitle court to hold hearing outside home province

Concurrent class proceedings certified in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec on behalf of individuals infected with Hepatitis C by Canadian blood supply. National settlement agreement binding upon receiving court approval. Courts approved settlement agreement establishing fund from which eligible claimants could receive compensation. Pursuant to settlement agreement, courts assigned supervisory role over implementation and enforcement of agreement. Class counsel filed motions before supervisory judges from Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec for approval of protocol extending original deadline in settlement agreement for filing claims. Class counsel proposed that motions be heard by supervisory judges sitting together in Alberta. Attorney General of Ontario objected, arguing lack of jurisdiction. Class counsel’s motion granted. Parties accepted Superior Court of Justice in Ontario has jurisdiction over subject matter and personal jurisdiction. Objection solely concerned judge’s physical location for hearing. English common law prohibiting English courts from sitting outside England not applicable as English common law not suited to modern realities. Provincial superior court sitting elsewhere in Canada does not engage issue of sovereignty among foreign states. No constitutional or statutory limitation on geographical location where provincial superior courts may sit. Superior courts have inherent jurisdiction to control own process, including fashioning procedures to facilitate efficient and effective resolution of issues encountered in implementing pan-Canadian settlement agreement reinforced by general supervisory powers conferred by Class Proceedings Act, 1992 (Ont.). Court should exercise discretion to hold hearing outside home province sparingly but interests of justice may entitle, or even require, court to exercise jurisdiction to hold hearing outside home province. In determining location of hearing in context of class proceeding, goals of achieving judicial economy and enhancing access to justice relevant. Settlement agreement requires that for order extending deadline to take effect, courts of Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec must issue and enter orders without material difference. Holding single hearing would save expense and valuable resources and would facilitate process of rendering consistent judgments.
Parsons v. Canadian Red Cross Society (May. 24, 2013, Ont. S.C.J., W.K. Winkler C.J.O., File No. 98-CV-141369, 98-CV-146405) 228 A.C.W.S. (3d) 33.

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