Summary

40934

Bryce J. Casavant v. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (B.C Conservation Officer Service), and Chief Conservation Officer

(British Columbia) (Civil) (By Leave)

Keywords

Administrative law — Boards and tribunals — Appeal of judicial review — Judge exercising discretion on judicial review to deny remedy — When may courts decline to grant substantive remedies on judicial review to parties harmed by unlawful state action, while still giving adequate recognition to rule of law — Do courts have absolute discretion to refuse to grant remedy in these cases, subject only to usual standard of review — If this is currently the law, should the law be changed?

Summary

Case summaries are prepared by the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada (Law Branch). Please note that summaries are not provided to the Judges of the Court. They are placed on the Court file and website for information purposes only.

This case concerns the exercise of a judge’s discretion on judicial review to deny a remedy to an applicant who has established that the underlying challenged decision was a nullity. It arises out of the applicant, Mr. Casavant’s employment with the B.C. Public Service as a conservation officer and special provincial constable and his effective dismissal from his position. Mr. Casavant challenged the dismissal.

An arbitrator was appointed but before the arbitration completed, matters were resolved by way of a settlement agreement signed by Mr. Casavant, his employer, and the union.

Mr. Casavant subsequently sought to reopen the matter by way of application, which was dismissed by the Labour Relations Board. Mr. Casavant sought judicial review, leading to the Court of Appeal’s first decision: Casavant v. British Columbia (Labor Relations Board), 2020 BCCA 159, leave to appeal to the SCC dismissed on January 21, 2021.

The Court of Appeal concluded that Mr. Casavant’s dismissal was governed by the Police Act, rather than his collective agreement. Accordingly, (1) the proceedings before the arbitrator and the Labour Relations Board were a nullity, and (2) Mr. Casavant’s dismissal should have been addressed under the Police Act. However, because those proceedings had been settled by an agreement that had governed the parties’ relationship for some four years at that point, the Court of Appeal felt obliged to “leave the parties to sort out the consequences of those declarations, if any, on the settlement agreement”.

The parties were unable to sort it out. Mr. Casavant petitioned the Supreme Court under the Judicial Review Procedure Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 241, seeking a declaration that his dismissal was unlawful, and therefore void ab initio; an order declaring the settlement agreement void and of no force or effect; and other declarations. The review judge dismissed the petition. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.

Lower Court Rulings

September 7, 2022
Supreme Court of British Columbia

2022 BCSC 1573, s-211700
Petition seeking declaration that dismissal was unlawful, and therefore void ab initio and an order declaring the settlement agreement void and of no force or effect, was dismissed.
August 8, 2023
Court of Appeal for British Columbia (Vancouver)

2023 BCCA 320, CA48589
Appeal dismissed.