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FEDERAL INCOME TAX - Appeals - Tax Court of Canada - Discovery of documents

Tuesday, February 02, 2021 @ 6:18 AM  


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Appeal by a Tax-Free Savings Account trustee from a decision of the Tax Court of Canada dismissing the appellant’s motion to compel the respondent to provide certain documents and answers to certain questions as part of discovery in a Tax Court appeal involving statutory interpretation. The Tax Court found that certain of the documents sought by the appellant were in the public domain and refused to order production since such an order would amount to requiring the respondent to do the appellant’s research. The Tax Court also refused to order production of, and answers to questions about, internal Department of Finance documents on the basis that they were of very little or no relevance to the statutory interpretation issue in the underlying appeal before the Tax Court. The Tax Court refused to order that the respondent provide information concerning factual assumptions surrounding the object, spirit and purpose and the policy behind the statutory provisions in issue based on its view that the appellant was not seeking the respondent’s legal position, but information concerning the respondent’s legal argument to which the appellant was not entitled in discover. The appellant also argued that the Tax Court gave rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias by basing its decision on several issues that had not been raised by the parties and in awarding costs in any event of the cause.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The arguments on bias had no merit. The appellant’s assertions concerning issues not raised and costs awarded in any event of the cause were clearly insufficient to establish bias. The Tax Court did not err in characterizing the appellant’s request for public documents as an effort to have the respondent do its research, and in refusing to order production of public documents. The Tax Court did not err in finding that the internal documents sought were of marginal relevance. The Tax Court made no palpable and overriding error in refusing to order production of unredacted copies of the internal documents in question or in refusing to order that the respondent answer questions related to such documents. The Tax Court was equivocal about the relevance of the internal documents in question and exercised its residual discretion to refuse document production even when the documents in question might have marginal relevance.

Ahamed (Trustee of) v. Canada, [2020] F.C.J. No. 1188, Federal Court of Appeal, G.R. Locke, J. Gauthier and Y. de Montigny JJ.A., December 10, 2020. Digest No. TLD-February12021004