Berger, Watson and McDonald JJA

2.29: Withdrawal of lawyer of record
3.12: Application of statement of claim rules to originating applications

Case Summary

The County of Grande Prairie had placed a Caveat on the Appellant, Hildebrand’s property in support of a stop order it issued respecting construction on the property. After it was served with a Notice to Take Proceedings on the Caveat, the County filed an Originating Application in respect of its stop order and Caveat. The Appellant then applied for an Order holding the County, and certain individuals, in contempt of Court. He also sought an Order postponing the registration of the Caveat on his property, directing the County to provide him with a development permit pursuant to a decision of the Subdivision Development Appeal Board (“SDAB”), and to apply the Statement of Claim Rules to the Originating Application, pursuant to Rule 3.12. The Case Management Judge dismissed the Appellant’s Application, granted leave to the Appellant’s lawyer of record to withdraw from the record by serving a notice as required by Rule 2.29, and made other procedural directions.

The Appellant, as a self-represented party argued that the Case Management Judge’s Orders should be re-heard or overturned, because the County had willfully distorted his permit renewal Application. The Appellant believed this to be the case because he had originally received a permit from the County respecting the construction, but his permit renewal Application was denied by the County.

In reviewing each issue on Appeal, the Court noted that the Case Management Judge refused to apply Rule 3.12, to “direct that all or any rules applying to an action started by statement of claim apply to the action started by Originating Application”. Although the Appellant sought to invoke Rule 3.12 to file a Counterclaim against the County, the Case Management Judge had held that expanding the Caveat proceedings in that way would “in effect, unwind the case back to its original point after more than three and a half years”.

The Court emphasized that the Case Management Judge’s Decision was an exercise of discretion, which was entitled to deference. The Court, referring to recent Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence explained that the Court should only intervene in a Chambers Judge’s discretion where “the judge has clearly misdirected himself or herself on the facts or the law, proceeded arbitrarily, or if the decision is so clearly wrong as to amount to an injustice”. The Court dismissed the Appeal and stated that the Case Management Judge had given sufficient weight to relevant considerations, and there was no basis to override the Decision below.

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