Valentin Pintea v. Dale Johns, et al.

(Alberta) (Civil) (By Leave)


Civil procedure - Contempt of court, Case management.


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Civil procedure - Contempt of court - Case management - Appellate review - Is the current law of civil contempt applicable to self-represented litigants - If the current law of civil contempt is applicable to self-represented litigants, is the Court obliged to strictly follow the law of civil contempt to ensure that self-represented litigants obtain the benefits of all substantive and procedural protections - What degree of assistance should courts give to vulnerable self-represented litigants in making sure that their substantive legal rights are protected - How should courts interpret and apply court rules and procedures to vulnerable self-represented litigants.

The appellant commenced an action against the respondents with respect to a car accident in 2005. Although he was initially represented by counsel, he became a self-represented litigant. When the appellant insisted that the matter be set down for trial, the case management judge directed him to produce his witness list and to comply with other procedural requirements, which he failed to do. The appellant moved to a new neighbourhood but did not file a change of address with the court as required by the Rules of Court. He therefore did not receive subsequent notices sent to him about meetings and applications and did not attend court as required. When the appellant did not appear at a case management meeting on January 21, 2015, the case management judge directed that the appellant be serviced with a notice advising that if he did not appear a week later, he would be found in contempt and the action would be struck. The appellant did not receive notice of the meeting prior to the date set and did not attend.

The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench struck out the appellant’s statement of claim for failure to comply with the terms of case management orders and failure to attend at case management meetings. The appellate court dismissed the appellant’s appeal, with Martin J.A. dissenting.