Ralph v. Canada

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

This case involved an East coast fisher who applied for a turbot licence when a limited entry fishery was announced in 2000, but failed to obtain the licence because of insufficient landings during the qualifying period. He filed an appeal to the Atlantic Fisheries Licence Appeal Board ("AFLAB") and asked for that a licence be granted due to extenuating circumstances, namely, that he had spent $400,000 on upgrades to his vessel to allow him to participate in the fishery. After reviewing his submission, the board concluded that there was insufficient evidence linking the repairs to the turbot fishery (para. 16 & 40). As a result, it recommended to the Minister that the appeal be dismissed (para. 16).

The fisher applied to the Federal Court for judicial review relying, in part, upon the case of Decker v. Canada (A.G.) (digested here).

As preliminary matter, the court had to determine the standard of review to apply. Relying upon the case of New Brunswick (Management Board) v. Dunsmuir, [2008] S.C.R. 190 (digested here), the court decided that questions of procedural fairness, natural justice and matters of law would be decided on a standard of correctness and questions of fact, mixed law and fact and the exercise of discretion should be decided upon a standard of reasonableness (para. 21-2).

In reviewing the Minister’s exercise of discretion in accepting the AFLAB’s conclusion that there were no extenuating circumstances, the court concluded as follows:

This letter [describing the repairs to the boat in 1999] is insufficient to show a "demonstrated financial commitment" by the Applicant for the prosecution of the turbot fishery and the Board committed no error by failing to mention it in its recommendation to the Minister (para. 40).