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CONFLICTS BY LEGAL AREA - Tort law - Law of the place of the tort

Tuesday, July 21, 2020 @ 5:59 AM  

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Appeal by the defendants from the dismissal of their application for an order dismissing the plaintiff’s action based on lack of jurisdiction. A train operated by the plaintiff derailed in Saskatchewan. The plaintiff commenced an action in Saskatchewan for breach of contract and negligence, claiming the defendants were at fault as their improper loading of a rail car with steel they manufactured in Alabama and destined for Alberta caused the derailment. The chambers judge found the Saskatchewan court had jurisdiction to hear the action and that Alabama was not the more appropriate forum.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The fact the railcar was loaded in Alabama did not mean the tort occurred in Alabama for the purposes of the Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act. There was no tort of negligence unless and until, as alleged, the steel fell from the railcar and caused the derailment. The fact that the precipitating event and all ensuing damage occurred in Saskatchewan was enough to conclude the alleged tort was committed in Saskatchewan and that there was a real and substantial connection between the facts of the action and Saskatchewan. The Saskatchewan court had presumptive territorial competence. The chambers judge did not err in finding the defendants had not rebutted the presumption. He did not err in concluding the appellants had failed to establish Alabama was a more appropriate forum. He was clearly aware of the location of potential witnesses. He properly considered the law to be applied to the proceeding, the location of relevant records, procedural rights in both jurisdictions and judgment enforcement issues.

Canadian National Railway Co. v. SSAB Alabama Inc., [2020] S.J. No. 245, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, R.G. Richards C.J.S., N.W. Caldwell, June 19, 2020. Digest No. TLD-July202020004