Written by Kelsey Meyer
As of January 1, 2017, amendments to the Municipal Government Act, R.S.A. 2000 c. M 26 (MGA), came into force, changing how property owners can seek court review of Assessment Review Board decisions in Alberta.
The Boards in each municipality hear all property tax assessment complaints by taxpayers. Since January 2010, legislation provided that, upon a Board issuing a decision, the taxpayer (or the municipality) could seek leave to appeal from the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta on a question of law or jurisdiction. The test for leave to appeal required that the appeal:
- involved a question of law or jurisdiction;
- of sufficient importance to merit an appeal; and
- had a reasonable chance of success.
Issues that did not fall within that test fell within the court's inherent jurisdiction to judicially review decisions of an administrative tribunal.
With the recent amendments, a party seeking the court's review of a decision of the Board is now required to apply for judicial review, to be filed and served within 60 days after the date of the decision. The leave to appeal process has been repealed and replaced with the judicial review provisions, and review by the courts on all issues—questions of law, questions of fact, and questions of mixed law and fact—are now all subject to judicial review.
Further, applications for leave to appeal (or the appeals themselves) under the "old" MGA may now be dealt with as an application for judicial review under the provisions of the newly amended legislation, upon consent of all parties and by order of the court.
The new process pursuant to the amended MGA now allows applicants seeking the court's review of a Board decision to deal with all alleged errors by the Board in one court application, rather than potentially three, under the previous legislation. It is more efficient in terms of time and cost.
Further amendments to the MGA will come into force upon proclamation, the date of which is currently unknown.
Bennett Jones LLP has acted as counsel for complainants before the Board and for applicants for leave to appeal and judicial review of decisions of Boards throughout the province of Alberta.