Alassia Newships Management Inc. v. British Columbia

In Offences in a Marine Context on (Updated )

Précis: The British Columbia Supreme Court dismissed an application for certiorari and prohibition relating to an order of a Justice of the Peace validating service of a summons against a ship manager by serving a Master of a managed ship. On appeal, the Court of Appeal held the ship manager had not been properly served and the Provincial Court was without jurisdiction.

Facts: In April of 2015 oil allegedly spilled from the ship “Marathassa” while at anchor in English Bay, Vancouver. An Information was subsequently sworn laying charges under various statutes against the “Marathassa” and against the applicant, her manager. A summons to appear was served on the applicant by personal service on the Master of the “Afroessa”, another ship managed by the applicant. At a hearing before the Justice of the Peace, the Crown advised the Court that the applicant had been served with the summons. The presiding Justice of the Peace confirmed the service and adjourned the matter to a future date. The applicant did not formally appear at that hearing to contest the service as such an appearance would have been an attornment to the Court’s jurisdiction. Subsequent to the hearing, the applicant applied to the Supreme Court of British Columbia for an order of certiorari quashing the order of the Justice of the Peace and for an order of prohibition prohibiting the Provincial Court from proceeding with the charges against the applicant until it had been properly served.

At first instance, the application was dismissed. The motions Judge held that certiorari and prohibition were available if the Justice of Peace had exceeded her jurisdiction but she had not done so by determining whether the service was valid. The ship manager appealed.

Decision: Appeal allowed.

Held: Section 703.2 of the Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c. C-46 permits service on an organization by serving “the manager, secretary or other senior officer of the organization or one of its branches”. The Master that was purportedly served was not a manager or secretary of the appellant and was not a “senior officer” since he did not play an important role in the establishment of its policies and was not responsible for managing an important aspect of its activities. The appellant was therefore not properly served under s. 703.2 of the Criminal Code. However, the Crown contends that service was nevertheless proper since the existence of the Summons came to the notice of the appellant. This is not correct. There is a distinction between notice in fact and notice in law. The notice given must be that which is authorized by law meaning service of a summons must be effected pursuant to s. 703.2. Accordingly, because the appellant was not properly served, the Justice of the Peace exceeded her jurisdiction. The Provincial Court is prohibited from proceeding with the prosecution until the appellant is properly served.