Newell v. Canada

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

This case involved a crab fisherman who exceeded his individual quota for 1999 crab landings and consequently had his 2000 individual quota reduced by an amount equal approximately to his overage in the previous year. In response, the fisherman commenced an action against the Crown seeking damages for the Crown’s “intentional tortuous interference with his economic interests which caused him to suffer economic loss”.

Upon application of the Crown, the Court struck the fisherman’s claim on the grounds that it disclosed no reasonable cause of action. The Court’s reasons for doing so included the following:

1.The Mathews v. Canada (A.G.) (1996) 118 F.T.R. 81 (T.D.) line of authorities were distinguishable because in the Newel case the statement of claim contained no factual allegations that the primary purpose of the quota reduction was to impose a penalty; and

“Since a fishing licence conveys a privilege, not a right, the plaintiff’s claim that the Crown tortiously interfered with his economic right to fish does not disclose a reasonable cause of action i.e., a claim recognized by law” (para. 13).
In obiter, the Court also dealt with the issue of whether or not it was necessary to first bring an application for judicial review before bringing a application for damages as was done in the case of LaPointe et al. v. Canada (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans) (1992), 51 F.T.R.161. Based upon the Zarzour v. Canada (2000) 268 N.R. 235 (F.C.A.) the Court suggested that “it may be that in particular circumstances there is no necessity to first seek judicial review before initiating a claim for damages . . .” (para. 18).