Dianna Louise Parsons, deceased by her Estate Administrator, William John Forsyth, et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario, et al.

(Ontario) (Civil) (By Leave)


Courts - Jurisdiction, Civil procedure.


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Courts – Jurisdiction – Provincial and territorial superior courts – Civil procedure – Class actions – National settlement agreement to class actions assigning supervisory role over settlement to superior court judges in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia – Class counsel for representative plaintiffs in these three provinces applying for directions from their respective courts on whether applications under settlement agreement can be heard simultaneously by supervisory judges in a fourth province – Whether the inherent jurisdiction of the superior court to control and regulate its own process, within the limits permitted by statute and the Constitution, allows superior court judges to hold hearings outside their home provinces where the efficiency of the administration of justice so requires – If a discretion to sit out-of-province exists, whether it is limited to hearings that proceed on a paper record, or permits viva voce evidence – Whether the open court principle includes a geographic requirement, such that out of province hearings are impermissible in the absence of a video-link to the home province – Whether “inherent jurisdiction” is limited to, and conflated with, the narrow “core jurisdiction” of the s. 96 superior courts – Whether there are any other restrictions, beyond the requirement to have a video-conference link back to Ontario, which should apply to Ontario courts’ ability to hold out-of-province hearings.

In the context of a national class action, the settlement agreement assigns a supervisory role to superior court judges in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec. It also provides that although each of the three courts is to exercise an independent supervisory power over the settlement within its own jurisdiction, any order by a court only takes effect once there are materially identical orders of the other two courts. In 2012, contested motions were brought by class action counsel in each of the three provinces pursuant to the settlement agreement. Class counsel in each province proposed that the most efficient and effective procedure for adjudicating the motions would be for the three supervisory judges to sit together in one location. The Attorneys General of the three provinces objected to the judges of their provinces sitting outside the territorial boundaries of their provinces. Class action counsel therefore brought applications for directions in their respective province for a determination on the jurisdictional issue.