Barnard v. Geof Regan, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and Azulemar Fishing Ltd.

In Fish Cases, Fisheries Practice, Judicial Review/Crown Liability on (Updated )

This case involved the ranking of Canadian fishing vessels on a list that allowed these vessels to participate in the U.S. tuna fishery. Under this list, it was anticipated that only the first 94 fishing vessels would be able to participate in this fishery in 2007 and thereafter. After being placed at 97th position on the list, the applicant appealed its ranking to the Minister of Fisheries by way of appeal to the Pacific Region Licence Appeal Board ("PRLAB"). Based upon a non binding recommendation from the PRLAB, the Minister refused to change the applicant’s position on the list. Approximately three weeks after the thirty day deadline for filing an application for judicial review of the Minister’s decision, the applicant filed an application for an extension of time. Shortly thereafter, Azulemar Fishing Ltd. was added to the proceeding as a respondent, as it occupied the 94th position on the list and would be unable to fish in 2007 if bumped off of the list by the applicant.

Upon hearing the application, the court denied the extension for the following reasons:

1) With respect to the existence of a reasonable explanation for the delay, the court concluded that the applicant did not form the intention to appeal until three weeks after the due date. Efforts to determine what is behind an impugned decision and determining what remedies to take do not constitute adequate explanations for delay.

2) With respect to the existence of an arguable case, the court concluded that judicial review of a decision not to vary a policy is not readily available.

3) With respect to prejudice, there was prejudice to the public in that there is a public interest in finality of decisions (Grenier v. Canada 2005 FCA 348). There was also clear prejudice to Azulemar Fishing Ltd., because it expended funds for the refit of its fishing vessel for the tuna fishery after the 30 day appeal period expired. This prejudice was compounded by the failure of the applicant to serve Azulemar with notice of its application in a timely manner.