Administrative law – Fisheries – Licence applications – Jurisdiction of court to hear a complaint – Judicial review – Permits and licences
Waterman v. Canada (Department of Fisheries and Oceans),  N.J. No. 27, Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court – Trial Division, January 25, 2007, R.J. Hall J.
The Plaintiff brought an action in the Newfoundland Labrador Supreme Court to determine the propriety of the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans’ refusal to grant the Plaintiff a crab license. The Plaintiff made a series of applications to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans from 1988 through 1999 requesting crab permits. The Defendant, on several occasions, reviewed the Plaintiff’s file and decisions denying crab licenses and upheld those decisions. In 1998, the Plaintiff brought an appeal to the Regional Licensing Appeal Committee which was denied. The Plaintiff further appealed to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans which determined that the Plaintiff did not qualify for a supplementary crab license. In May of 2001, the Plaintiff issued his Statement of Claim. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans applied to the Court for an order striking the Statement of Claim stating that it failed to disclose a reasonable cause of action or constituted an abuse of process of the Court.
The Court found that s. 7 of the Fisheries Act affords discretion to the Minister to issue crab licenses. The Court satisfied itself that the claims of the Plaintiff were, at their heart, a challenge to the administrative decisions of the Minister, or his staff, in the exercise of discretion vested in the Minister to issue fishing licenses. The Court concluded that a judicial review of the Minister’s decisions pursuant to ss. 18 and 18.1 of the Federal Courts Act is a legal prerequisite to the claims for relief set out in the Plaintiff’s Statement of Claim. The Court found that it had no jurisdiction to entertain the claims of the Plaintiff unless and until a successful judicial review had been completed.
The Court dismissed the claim of the Plaintiff.
To stay current with the new case law and emerging legal issues in this area, subscribe here.