CSL Group Inc. v. Canada

In Miscellaneous Maritime Law Topics on (Updated )

This matter was a test case in which the Plaintiff sought to recover substantial damages for delays experienced by its ships in the transit of the St. Lawrence Seaway during November and December, 1989. The delays were caused by a public service strike. Because of the strike ice breakers were not in service and the summer buoys were not removed. This resulted in restrictions on navigation being imposed including closure of sections of the river. Prior to the commencement of the strike, the Crown had the right to designate employees as necessary for the security of the public and if so designated those employees would have been required to perform their duties regardless of the strike. The Crown, in fact, had intended to designate Coast Guard crews but the designation was made out of time and was disallowed. The Plaintiff argued that the Crown’s failure to designate the Coast Guard crews was negligent. At trial, the Court dismissed the Plaintiff’s action. The trial judge held that the Crown had no obligation to designate employees for the purpose of preventing inconvenience or economic hardship and that the Crown employees who neglected to designate the relevant employees in a timely manner also owed no duty to the Plaintiff. On appeal, the Court of Appeal agreed with the trial judge that there was no duty owed. The Court of Appeal noted that the decision of the Crown as to whether to designate any employees was a policy decision and that a failure to designate was therefore not actionable.