An application for judicial review was struck because it was served outside the six-month limitation period. The court held it did not have jurisdiction to extend the deadline for service.
Administrative Law – Appeals – Judicial Review – Jurisdiction – Limitations
Baker v. Drouin,  A.J. N o. 329, 2017 ABQB 204, Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, March 24, 2017, P.R. Jeffrey J.
The applicant sought an increase in his permanent clinical impairment (PCI) rating following the decision of the Dispute Resolution and Decision Review Body (DRDRB). His appeal was heard by a three-member panel of the Appeals Commission, who issued a decision on August 5, 2016. The Appeals Commission varied the DRDRB decision on the basis that there was insufficient medical evidence to determine if the applicant was entitled to an increase in his PCI rating. The Appeals Commission remitted the matter to the Workers’ Compensation Board for further medical investigation. During the hearing of the appeal, the applicant asked to make additional submissions and provide additional documents to the hearing panel, which the Appeals Commission declined to consider.
The applicant applied for judicial review of the Appeals Commission’s refusal to accept the additional submissions and documents. He filed his application on February 3, 2017, and served the Appeals Commission with his application on February 9, 2017.
The Appeals Commission applied to have the decision struck on the basis that the applicant had missed the deadline for serving his application, which was February 5, 2017. Mr. Justice P.R. Jeffrey confirmed that the deadline set out in the Workers’ Compensation Act, RSA 2000, c W-15 (the “Act”) and the Alberta Rules of Court, AR 124/2010 (the “Rules”), both provide that applications for judicial review must be filed and served within 6 months after the date of the decision, and that the deadline has been strictly applied by the courts. As the Appeals Commission’s decision was issued on August 5, 2016, the deadline for filing and serving the application for judicial review expired on February 5, 2017.
Mr. Justice Jeffrey confirmed that the Rules prohibited him from extending the deadline in the circumstances, but he then went on to consider whether it was within the Court’s inherent jurisdiction to extend the deadline. He confirmed that the Court’s inherent jurisdiction is to be exercised sparingly and with caution, and that these inherent powers can be limited by statute. In light of the provisions of the Act and the Rules prohibiting extensions to the six-month time limit, he held that providing an extension would be contrary to those statutory provisions and to “observ[ing]… the due process of law” (at para. 22, citing Endean v. British Columbia, 2016 SCC 42).
Mr. Justice Jeffrey nonetheless held that he would not have extended the deadline in this case, even if he had the discretion to do so, given that (1) the applicant had not been denied access to justice by reason of limited funds; (2) the judicial review application had very little chance for success; (3) the applicant admitted to having read the Rule with respect to the service deadline; and (4) the Rules apply equally to all litigants, whether self-represented or represented by counsel.
This case was digested by JoAnne G. Barnum of Harper Grey LLP. If you would like to discuss this case further, please feel free to contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or review her biography at http://www.harpergrey.com.
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