Herrenknecht Tunnelling Systems USA Inc. v. Canadian Pacific Railway

In Admiralty Jurisdiction on (Updated )

The issue in this case was whether the Federal Court had jurisdiction over a claim for damage caused to cargo during the course of carriage from Quebec to Tacoma, Washington. The cargo was damaged when the train derailed in Ontario. The Judge identified the test as being: 1. There must be a statutory grant of jurisdiction by the federal parliament; 2. There must be an existing body of federal law which is essential to the disposition of the case and which nourishes the statutory grant of jurisdiction; and, 3. The law on which the case is based must a “law of Canada” as the phrase is used in s. 101 of the Constitution Act. The Judge found the statutory grant of jurisdiction in s.23(c) of the Federal Court Act which vests the court with jurisdiction in all cases where a claim for relief or a remedy is sought in relation to works and undertakings connecting one province with any other province. The second branch of the test was met by sections 113 and 116 of the Canada Transportation Act which oblige railways to receive, carry and deliver cargo and which provide a right of action to any person against a railway for neglect or refusal to fulfill its service obligations. Finally, the Judge held that the Canada Transportation Act was a “law of Canada” within the meaning of s. 101 of the Constitution Act and hence satisfied the third branch of the test.