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JUDGES - Disqualification or removal - Conflict of interest

Tuesday, July 28, 2020 @ 9:23 AM  

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Appeal by the plaintiff from the dismissal of its application to extend the time to file its notice of appeal. The defendants were the mortgagees, their legal counsel, and realtors and an appraiser retained by the mortgagees. The appellant alleged the defendants acted negligently and in bad faith in their marketing, appraisal and attempted sale of its property in foreclosure proceedings and that they conspired to reduce the value of the property. The appellant’s conspiracy and negligence claims were struck on the basis they did not disclose a reasonable claim, with leave to amend the conspiracy claim. The appellant filed its notice of appeal seven weeks late. On its application to extend the time to appeal, the chambers judge concluded the appeal was without merit. The chambers judge was the former law partner of counsel for one of the respondents prior to his appointment to the bench eight years earlier.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The chambers judge did not err in law or principle or misconceive the facts in refusing to grant the extension. There was no basis for the chambers judge to disqualify himself. There was no prohibition against the chambers judge hearing a case being argued by his former law partner. An informed person, viewing the matter realistically and practically, would not think it was more likely than not that the judge would not decide the application fairly.

0742848 B.C. Ltd. v. 426008 B.C. Ltd., [2020] B.C.J. No. 1014, British Columbia Court of Appeal, E.A. Bennett, R. Goepel and S.A. Griffin JJ.A., June 24, 2020. Digest No. TLD-July272020004