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Transportation Law - Motor vehicles and highway traffic - Vehicle licensing - Registrar of vehicles - Conditions - Number plates

Thursday, September 08, 2016 @ 8:00 PM  

Appeal by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles from a determination that the Registrar acted unreasonably in revoking personalized licence plates issued to Maxwell, a criminal lawyer. Maxwell specialized in defending clients charged with impaired driving offences. In 2008, he was issued plates reading “DUI DR”. The plates were renewed each year without question, until 2015. The Registrar received a written complaint regarding the plates in November 2014, and two further separate complaints from MADD Canada and MADD Greater Fredericton, prior to making the decision to revoke the plates. The Registrar wrote to Maxwell to inform him the plates were erroneously issued in 2008 and to request the return of the plates within 14 days. Maxwell did not return the plates and the Registrar issued an order authorizing their seizure. The Registrar mailed new plates to Maxwell, which Maxwell returned. Both DUI DR plates were seized by June 2015. Maxwell sought judicial review of the Registrar’s decision to revoke the plates. The judge found that there had been a breach of procedural fairness and that the Registrar’s decision was unreasonable, as there was no evidence providing a basis for the decision. The judge ordered the Registrar to return the DUI DR plates and to pay $5,000 to Maxwell in costs.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The judge was correct in concluding that the Registrar’s decision was unreasonable. The Registrar failed to offer any arguments or reasons in support of the decision. Nothing on the record supported the Registrar’s claim that the plates were erroneously issued in 2008. Procedural fairness was not provided to Maxwell, who was led to believe from the first contact with the Registrar that the revocation decision was final and that he had no right of appeal. Discussions that Maxwell had with the Registrar after the decision were not designed to provide Maxwell with a meaningful opportunity to present his case, but rather to confirm the meaning of the acronym on the plates. The Registrar delivered a ruling without providing any due process to Maxwell.