Trial judge had discretion to decide whether to stay her ruling

Family Law - Practice and procedure - Stay or dismissal

International lis pendens. Parties married in Belgium and moved with their children to Quebec. Their relationship deteriorated and husband brought applied for divorce in Belgium and wife applied for divorce in Quebec. Husband, under Belgium law, revoked all gifts he had given wife during their marriage. Relying on international lis pendens, husband brought motion seeking to stay wife's proceedings. Trial judge declined to stay proceedings, finding that she could not recognize Belgian court decision permitting husband to revoke gifts because it would be discriminatory. Court of Appeal reversed that judgment, determining that it was premature to conclude that the Belgian court decision could not be recognized in Quebec. Court of Appeal also found that trial judge failed to consider whether it would be possible for Quebec judgment to be recognized in Belgium. Court of Appeal stayed Quebec proceedings and wife appealed. Appeal allowed. Trial judge had discretion to decide whether to stay her ruling in circumstances. Appellate court should only intervene with exercise of discretion if judge erred in principle, misapprehended or failed to take account of material evidence, or reached unreasonable decision. Here, recognition of Quebec judgment in other country could not be determinative consideration. Hence, Court of Appeal did not have sufficient basis to intervene. Therefore, trial judge’s decision on this point must be restored.

R.S. v. P.R. (2019), 2019 CarswellQue 8812, 2019 CarswellQue 8813, 2019 SCC 49, 2019 CSC 49, Wagner C.J.C., Abella J., Moldaver J., Karakatsanis J., Gascon J., Brown J., and Martin J. (S.C.C.); reversed (2017), 2017 CarswellQue 8510, 2017 QCCA 1470, Dufresne J.C.A., Ouellet J.C.A. (ad hoc), and Kasirer J.C.A. (C.A. Que.).

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