Goodrich Transport Ltd. v. Vancouver Fraser Port Authority

In Docks Wharves and Marinas on (Updated )

Précis: The court set aside the decisions of the Port Authority denying licences to the applicants and ordered that their applications be reconsidered.

Facts: The Port of Metro Vancouver had been plagued with labour issues relating to the drayage of containers to and from the port for many years. In an effort to resolve the issues, the licencing system was changed to, inter alia, decrease the number of trucks used to service the Port’s requirements. The Port evaluated the licence applications received based upon various published criteria but the applications were processed in batches rather than at a single time. The Port did not advise that applications were to be evaluated in this way. The result was that some of the applications that were processed at a later point in time were denied licences even though those applicants had higher scores than applicants who had been processed earlier. A number of the applicants who were denied licences brought this proceeding for judicial review.

Decision: Application allowed.

Held: The Port had a duty of fairness in relation to the evaluation of the licence applications. The Applicants were entitled to a fair, impartial and open process. Effective notice is at the heart of procedural fairness. The Port had published the criteria that would be used to evaluate licences and was under no duty to advise in advance exactly how the different criteria would be weighted. However, “fairness demanded the disclosure of the more onerous scoring system that applied to later applications”. The Port is to re-assess the licence applications of the applicants “in accordance with the most favourable benchmark applied to any of the successful licensing applications”.

Comment: See also ATL Trucking Ltd. v. Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, 2014 FC 420, where it was held that the Port was a “federal board, commission or tribunal” and its decision was subject to judicial review by the Federal Court.