The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal of the National Parole Board from the inmate’s successful habeas corpus application in respect of the Board’s process. The Supreme Court erred in hearing the habeas corpus application because the Board’s statutory appeal process had not been exhausted.

Administrative law – National Parole Board hearings – Remedies – Habeas corpus – Judicial review – Disclosure – Procedural requirements and fairness

L.R.F. v. Canada (National Parole Board), [2008] N.S.J. No. 252, Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, June 18, 2008, N.J. Bateman, L.L. Oland and J.E. Fichaud JJ.A

L.R.F. (the “Offender”) was convicted of several criminal offences and was incarcerated. During his incarceration, the Offender applied for parole. The National Parole Board (“NPB”) conducted a hearing on March 23, 2006 and, on the same day, rejected the Offender’s application for day and full parole. In rejecting the parole application, the NPB advised the Offender of his right to appeal the decision to the NPB Appeal Division within 60 days of the decision date.

The Offender did not appeal the decision because he felt the outcome of this appeal was likely predetermined. Instead, the Offender applied to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court for habeas corpus. On the habeas corpus application, the Court referred to the requirement that the NPB disclose the information that it intended to rely on at the parole hearing. The Offender argued the NPB failed to disclose relevant information to him in advance of the hearing. The Court accepted this argument and ordered a new hearing take place in front of a new panel of the NPB.

The NPB appealed the Court’s decision on the basis the fairness issue actually fell within the statutory appeal jurisdiction of the NPB Appeal Division. The statutory appeal process, set up under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), allowed the Offender to appeal the NPB’s decision on the basis that it failed to observe a principle of fundamental justice or based its decision on erroneous information. The Court of Appeal held that the statutory provisions of the CCRA were a complete and comprehensive procedure for challenging the NPB decision. This was not a situation where an apparently comprehensive statutory appeal procedure was actually an ineffective procedure and, therefore, subject to a habeas corpus application.

This case was digested by Scott J. Marcinkow of Harper Grey LLP. If you would like to discuss this case further, please feel free to contact him directly at or review his biography at

To stay current with the new case law and emerging legal issues in this area, subscribe here.