Oct 19, 2020

Administrative mistakes happen. The challenge then is to figure out an appropriate response. In Hilson v 1336365 Alberta Ltd., 2019 ONCA 653, <http://canlii.ca/t/j1x45>, three members of the Ontario Court of Appeal heard a case. Two members participated in drafting reasons for decision. By accident the draft decision and reasons was sent to a different member of the court, who had not participated in the appeal, who signed it. The decision and reasons was sent out. When the error was discovered the Court determined as follows:

  • The issued decision was not valid.
  • It would now be unfair to have the third member of the Court review the decision and reasons to decide whether or not to agree with it, or to dissent from it.
  • A different panel of the Court needed to deal with the matter and issue a fresh decision.

This outcome reinforces the importance of ensuring that every member of the panel participate in both making the decision and in drafting the reasons before the decision is released.