Power to represent Minister including all acts normally within prerogative of advocate

Supreme court | Administrative Law | Practice and procedure | Miscellaneous

Administrative Tribunal of Québec’s social affairs division made decisions on granting of social aid. Minister subsequently applied for review of those decisions, presenting motions for review that had been prepared, drawn up, signed and filed by person who was not advocate. Individuals brought motion to dismiss on ground that proceedings had not been prepared by practising advocate. Tribunal dismissed motions to dismiss, holding that power to represent Minister under s. 102 of Act respecting administrative justice (AAJ) included all acts that were normally within prerogative of advocate. Individuals brought motion seeking judicial review of Tribunal’s decision. Reviewing judge held that power of person chosen to represent Minister who is not advocate should be narrowly construed and could concern only power to plead or act before Tribunal’s social affairs division. Reviewing judge further held that act of pleading or acting before court or tribunal did not include preparation and drawing up of motions. Accordingly, reviewing judge dismissed motions for judicial review and Attorney General of Quebec appealed. Court of Appeal held that reviewing judge erred in reversing Tribunal’s decisions. It found that person representing Minister who is not advocate may prepare, draw up and sign motions or written proceedings intended for use before Tribunal’s social affairs division. Barreau du Québec appealed before Supreme Court of Canada. Appeal dismissed. Ordinary sense of verb “represent” normally covers all aspects of representation of others before court or tribunal. Tribunal’s finding that, under the AAJ, person who is not advocate could, in certain proceedings, do everything that is needed for representation of Minister before Tribunal’s social affairs division fell within range of possible, acceptable outcomes which were defensible in respect of facts and law. Therefore, that decision was reasonable and no intervention was justified.

Barreau du Québec c. Québec (Procureure générale) (2017), 2017 CarswellQue 9478, 2017 CarswellQue 9479, 2017 SCC 56, 2017 CSC 56, McLachlin C.J.C., Abella J., Moldaver J., Karakatsanis J., Wagner J., Gascon J., Côté J., Brown J., and Rowe J. (S.C.C.); affirmed (2016), 2016 CarswellQue 2440, 2016 QCCA 536, Bich J.C.A., Morin J.C.A., and Bouchard J.C.A. (C.A. Que.).

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