Written by Ranjan K. Agarwal and Ethan Z. Schiff
The Supreme Court of Canada’s spring term begins on April 16, 2018. Chief Justice Wagner has already put his stamp on the Court, announcing in February that it would begin releasing “plain language” summaries alongside its reasons for decision (which seems to invite the question what language the decisions are written in).
This term, there are very few cases scheduled to be heard that directly impact the business community, but we expect a number of important business-related decisions to be released shortly as former Chief Justice McLachlin’s “end date” nears in June (she can continue to participate in judgments of cases heard before her departure up to six months after).
Among the few business cases being heard this term are:
- In Rogers Communications Inc v Voltage Pictures, LLC, the plaintiff movie producers seek relief against defendants who engage in illegal file sharing of their movies over the internet. To identify one of the defendants, the plaintiffs brought a motion to compel Rogers to disclose contact and personal information of a customer associated with an identified Internet protocol address. The Federal Court granted the motion, providing that Rogers be paid its hourly fee to assemble, verify and transmit the information. The Federal Court of Appeal set aside the requirement that the plaintiffs pay Rogers’ fee and costs, noting that this activity fell under Rogers’s obligations under s. 41.26(1) of the Copyright Act, RSC 1985, c C-42.
- The Court will consider language rights in Industrielle Alliance, Assurance et Services Financiers inc. v Mazraani. In an appeal of a decision of the Minister of National Revenue, the Tax Court of Canada held that the self-represented applicant did not hold insurable employment. The applicant submitted his notice of appeal in English. The appellant in this case submitted a notice of intervention at the Tax Court in French. The appellants’ witness spoke French, but the court requested that he testify in English, while being permitted to express technical issues in French, which would later be translated into English. This was done to accommodate the applicant, who had limited understanding of French. On appeal, the Federal Court of Appeal held that the compromise of the language for testimony resulted in a violation of the witness’s official language rights.
- Freedom of the press will be considered in Vice Media Canada Inc v R. The police obtained an ex parte order requiring Vice Media and its employee, Ben Makuch, to produce to the police communications between Mr. Makuch and Farah Shirdon regarding Mr. Shirdon’s involvement with Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The ex parte judge also ordered that the application materials remain under seal. Vice Media unsuccessfully moved to have the production order quashed and an application to unseal the record relied on by the police in obtaining the production order. The Supreme Court will need to balance the importance of the media’s ability to keep source communications confidential with the need to ensure law enforcement is effective.