7.2: Application for judgment

Case Summary

The Respondents (“Blood Tribe”) planned to purchase an oil refinery and convert it to reserve land with the view that the refinery’s production would be exempt from federal tax. The Crown did not provide Blood Tribe an assurance that the refinery’s production would be tax exempt, and Blood Tribe accordingly sued the Crown for breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment.

The Crown applied for Summary Judgment on the basis that there was no merit to any of Blood Tribe’s claims. The Chambers Judge dismissed the Application and the Crown appealed. The Court of Appeal cited Guarantee Co of North America v Gordon Capital Corp, [1999] 3 SCR 423 in laying out the test for Summary Judgment:

The appropriate test to be applied on a motion for summary judgment is satisfied when the applicant has shown that there is no genuine issue of material fact requiring trial, and therefore summary judgment is a proper question for consideration by the court.

The Court of Appeal added that the test for Summary Judgement is a “high hurdle”, but if the Defendant meets the standard, Summary Judgment should not be withheld. The Court concluded that the Chambers Judge failed to distinguish between fiduciary obligations arising in the creation of reserve additions and the public law function of Canada in the collection and enforcement of its tax laws. There was also no evidence to suggest that the Crown had been unjustly enriched. For these reasons, the Court concluded that the Crown met the standard for Summary Judgment and allowed the Appeal.  

View CanLII Details