6.14: Appeal from master’s judgment or order
7.3: Summary Judgment (Application and decision)

Case Summary

The Plaintiff (“Signal Hill”) appealed a Master’s Decision to summarily dismiss its claims against the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) and a CRA employee (“Pearcey”). Signal Hill only appealed the Master’s Decision to summarily dismiss its claims against the CRA and Pearcey in negligence and unlawful interference with economic relations.

The parties agreed that the standard of review on an Appeal of a Master’s Decision is correctness. The Court noted that while the Appeal is on the record per Rule 6.14(3), no deference is due to the Decision below.

The Court then set out the test for Summary Judgment pursuant to Rule 7.3. A party may apply for Summary Judgment where there is no defence to a claim or part of it, there is no merit to a claim or part of it, or the only real issue is the amount to be awarded. The Court set out what the Summary Judgment procedure considers pursuant to Weir-Jones Technical Services Incorporated v Purolator Courier Ltd., 2019 ABCA 49.

The Court considered Signal Hill’s negligence claim first. Armstrong J. noted that negligence requires the CRA to owe Signal Hill a duty of care. The Court determined that CRA auditors do not owe a duty of care to taxpayers based on Grenon v Canada Revenue Agency, 2017 ABCA 96. Signal Hill argued that such a duty may arise where a public official acts in a manner inconsistent with the proper and valid exercise of statutory duties, in bad faith, or in some other improper fashion. The Court determined that even if a duty arises in such circumstances, there was no triable issue absent some factual basis for allegations of impropriety or bad faith.

The Court then considered the claim for unlawful interference with economic relations. Armstrong J. agreed with the Master below that the CRA and Pearcey committed no wrongful acts to establish the tort.

Given the above, the Court determined that the Master’s Decision was correct and dismissed Signal Hill’s Appeal.

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