The appeal by the Capital District Health Authority from a ruling quashing a decision of an interest arbitration board on the basis that the Board was functus was allowed where the Court found that the Board did not make a reviewable error and the Application Judge had applied the wrong standard of review

26. September 2006 0

Administrative law – Labour law – Arbitration – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Health authorities – Functus officio – Judicial review – Jurisdiction – Standard of review – Reasonableness simpliciter

Capital District Health Authority v. Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, [2006] N.S.J. No. 281, Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, July 7, 2006, T.A. Cromwell, M.J. Hamilton and J.E. Fichaud JJ.A

The Capital District Health Authority (the “Health Authority”) and the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (“NSGGEU”) set up an interest arbitration board to determine various issues including the employees’ rates of pay for the next three years. The Board issued an award, but the parties could not agree on how to implement that part of the award dealing with the “catch-up” component of the wage increase. The Board issued a supplemental award to resolve the difficulty. The NSGGEU objected, relying on the principle of functus officio. On its judicial review application, the NSGGEU argued that the Board had no further authority to address the “catch-up” issue because the Board had finally decided the matter in its first award. The Application Judge agreed and found that the Board erred in dealing further with the “catch-up” issue. The Health Authority appealed the decision.

The Court of Appeal held that the issue was one of mixed fact and law and one that was central to the Board’s purpose and close to the core of its labour relations expertise. Applying the pragmatic and functional approach, the Court held that the appropriate standard of review of the Board’s decision was reasonableness, not correctness as previously decided by the Application Judge. Applying the standard of reasonableness, the Court held that the Board did not make a reviewable error. There were exceptions to the principle of functus officio. One exception was that a tribunal could revisit the matter that was necessary to give effect to its “manifest intent”. The Board was entitled to deal with the “catch-up” issue in a supplemental award as it reasonably concluded that the language of the primary award had failed to give effect to its manifest intent on that issue. In the result, the Health Authority’s appeal was allowed.

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