The Court declined the respondents’ application to convert Workers’ Compensation Board proceedings to a court action but permitted their request to challenge WCB orders as the respondents faced the possibility of imprisonment

22. October 2013 0

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Workers Compensation Boards – Tribunal orders – Contempt – Judicial review – Collateral attack – Compliance with legislation – Evidence

British Columbia (Workers’ Compensation Board) v. Skylite Building Maintenance Ltd., [2013] B.C.J. No. 1988, 2013 BCSC 1666, British Columbia Supreme Court, September 10, 2013, G. Funt J.

The petitioner, the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB), brought an application to find three of the respondents in contempt of an order of the BC Supreme Court, and that the three respondents be imprisoned. The respondents asked the Court to convert the proceedings into an action and sought an adjournment of the proceedings.

The respondents argued that they had extensive materials to introduce as evidence, and that there were issues of credibility such that an action was necessary. The respondents also wished to cross-examine the petitioner’s witnesses on their affidavits. The petitioner argued that, as it sought to prove the respondents’ breaches by relying on WCB orders issued subsequent to the Court Order, permitting the respondents to challenge the WCB orders in a contempt proceeding would constitute a “collateral attack” on the WCB orders.

The court declined to grant the respondents’ request to have the proceedings converted to an action but permitted them to challenge the WCB orders. The court found that, as the respondents faced the possibility of imprisonment, they should be afforded the ability to make full answer and defence, which includes the right of cross-examination and by extension, the right to challenge the WCB’s orders. Further, imprisonment in contempt proceedings required proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which was not required by Workers Compensation Act in making the orders being challenged.

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