Roots v. HMCS Annapolis

In Admiralty Practice, Delay and Time Extensions on (Updated )

Précis: Repeated non-compliance with court orders and directions resulted in dismissal of the action for delay.

Facts: This action arose out of a project to decommission and sink the “HMCS Annapolis” as an artificial reef. The plaintiff was one of the subcontractors engaged to assist with the project. The plaintiff commenced this action, and arrested the vessel, on 24 April 2013. A Statement of Defence and Counterclaim was filed on 10 June 2013. On 28 October 2014 a motion to release the vessel from arrest was granted and the plaintiff was ordered to pay $10,000 in costs on the basis that the plaintiff had been “highly adversarial”. On 6 February 2015 the plaintiff was again ordered to pay costs in the amount of $2,500 on the basis that he had been “highly adversarial” and increased costs unnecessarily. On 21 July 2015 the Court issued a Direction requiring the plaintiff to file a status report and provide a proposed timetable by 8 September 2015. The plaintiff failed to comply with the Direction. On 15 September 2015 the Court asked the plaintiff to provide dates for a case management conference. The plaintiff failed to comply with the request. On 21 September at a case management conference scheduled by the Court the plaintiff undertook to comply with the Direction dated 21 July 2015 by 7 October 2015. The plaintiff failed to comply. On 14 October 2015 the Court issued an Order requiring the plaintiff to show cause, by written submissions to be filed by 9 November 2015, why the action should not be dismissed for failure to comply with the Court’s directions and for delay. The plaintiff failed to file the written submissions.

Decision: Action dismissed.

Held: A party in receipt of a notice of status review must address (1) whether there is justification for failure to move the case forward and (2) what steps the party proposes to move the case forward. In addition, any outstanding court orders or directions that have not been complied with must be addressed. Proceedings should only be dismissed in exceptional cases and where no other remedy would suffice. The focus is on the overall interests of justice. Here, the plaintiff has offered no explanation for his failure to respond to the notice of status review or for his repeated non-compliance with court orders and directions. His actions “demonstrate a continued pattern of ignoring his responsibilities to move the proceeding forward and a complete disregard of the case management process”. Dismissal of the action is “an appropriate remedy that is proportionate to the Plaintiff’s conduct”.