3.68: Court options to deal with significant deficiencies

Case Summary

The Defendants applied to strike the Plaintiff’s claim under Rule 3.68(2)(a), which allows the Court to strike a claim in cases where the Court has no jurisdiction or alternatively, under Rule 3.68(2)(d), which allows the Court to strike a claim for abuse of process.

The Plaintiff’s claim was a labour dispute. The Defendants’ position was that a labour arbitrator or the Alberta Labour Relations Board had exclusive jurisdiction.

The Court can only strike a Statement of Claim under Rule 3.68(2)(a) and (d) if it is plain and obvious that the Court has no jurisdiction, after considering evidence on the surrounding facts (as stated in Kniss v Stenberg, 2014 ABCA 73). This is a different test than the more commonly used one for Rule 3.68(2)(b) applications, which are concerned with whether the pleadings disclose a reasonable cause of action. In an Application for Rules 3.68(2)(a) and 3.68(2)(d), the Court may consider evidence and the Court does not have to assume every fact plead is true.

When considering whether the Court has jurisdiction, the Court will apply the “exclusive jurisdiction model.” This means that when a statute sets out a labour dispute resolution process that is final and binding, the Court will defer to that process. However, if the dispute does not expressly or inferentially arise out of the collective agreement, then the Court may hear it.

The nature of the dispute will be defined by its “essential character.” Some aspects of alleged conduct may arguably extend beyond the ambit of the agreement but might not alter the essential character of the dispute.

The Court here found that the essential character of the Plaintiff’s claim was within the ambit of the collective agreement’s dispute resolution regime. As such, the Court did not have jurisdiction and the Plaintiff’s claims must go to the Alberta Labour Relations Board.

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