6.14: Appeal from master’s judgment or order

Case Summary

In this Appeal of a Master’s Decision, the Court referred with approval to Janvier v 834474 Alberta Ltd, 2010 ABQB 800 with regard to determining the appropriate standard of review. Bensler J. noted that, because an Appeal from a Master’s Decision is no longer conducted as a hearing de novo, the Master’s Decision is now accorded a greater degree of deference. Referring to Janvier, Her Ladyship noted the following: (1) Masters continue to be limited in their jurisdiction to determine questions of fact - such a finding made within a Master’s jurisdiction is entitled to deference and is not to be interfered with unless there is “palpable or overriding error”; (2) a review of a Master’s Decision on a question of law is assessed on a standard of correctness; and (3) the standard of review for questions of mixed law and fact depends upon the characterization of the question and of the error: where the error arises in identifying the legal standard, the standard is correctness, but where the error arises in applying the correct legal standard to a given set of facts, the standard is reasonableness and the Decision should not be interfered with unless there is a palpable and overriding error.

Two of the issues were questions of law and therefore assessed on the standard of correctness. The third issue involved mixed law and fact, and was not a situation in which the error, if any, was in identifying the correct legal test to be applied. The appropriate standard of review for that issue was reasonableness.

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