Administrative law – Boards and tribunals – Jurisdiction
Oulton v. Chicken Farmers of Nova Scotia,  N.S.J. No. 127, Nova Scotia Supreme Court, March 18, 2002, Wright J.
The Chicken Farmers of Nova Scotia is a commodity board constituted under the Nova Scotia Chicken Marketing Plan, the stated purpose of which is to promote, control and regulate the marketing and production of chickens. The Board’s mandate is to administer the Plan including the allocation and distribution of quota to producers. This is done by way of periodic base quota adjustments for existing producers and, when market circumstances permit, the distribution of new quota to new producers. Prior to 1998, the distribution of new quota to new producers was made at no cost. In 1998, the Board implemented a new entrant’s fee of $117,500 to be charged for the distribution of new quota to new producers. The next three prospective entrants affected by this policy accepted the quotas and paid the fee but commenced this proceeding, seeking a Declaration that the imposition of the new entrant’s fee was ultra vires the jurisdiction of the Board. The Board took the position that its regulatory power should be interpreted as being broad enough to confer the discretion upon it to impose such a new entrant’s fee for the distribution of new quota to new producers.
The court held that the regulations at issue should not be interpreted as being broad enough to confer a discretion upon the Board to implement, by means of an administrative policy, a new entrant’s fee for distribution of new quota to new producers. The introduction of such a fee could properly be made only through the enactment of an appropriate regulation under the enabling legislation. This was not done in this case, and the court held that the Board therefore acted ultra vires its jurisdiction in imposing the new entrant’s fee in the manner in which it did. In the result, the declaratory relief sought was granted, including a direction that the new entrant’s fee paid by the applicants respectively be returned to them and they be permitted to retain the distributions of quota made to them in the normal course.
To stay current with the new case law and emerging legal issues in this area, subscribe here.