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CIVIL PROCEDURE - Parties - Intervenors - Requirement of interest

Monday, March 13, 2017 @ 8:58 AM  


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Application by the Attorney General of Newfoundland and Labrador for intervenor status in an appeal by Weir Construction (Weir) and its principals respecting the right of an injured worker, Warford, to maintain an action in tort in the Supreme Court against them. Warford was seriously injured while working as a mechanic repairing a large truck owned and used by Weir in its construction business. He was awarded benefits under the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission Act (Act), after which the Commission exercised its rights of subrogation and commenced the present action. When the Commission decided not to proceed with the action, it allowed Warford to continue it for his own benefit, on the condition that if he was successful he would repay the benefits he received under the legislation. After the issue of whether the action was prohibited because the accident involved the use of a motor vehicle in the course of Warford’s employment was considered by the Court multiple times, the Court ruled that the action could proceed, based on the delay in resolving the issue. Weir and its principals appealed. Over 20 years had passed since Warford suffered his injury and he was now deceased. His action was continued by his estate. The Attorney General sought intervenor status in the appeal because the outcome would impact three other pieces of litigation involving the application of sections 44 and 44.2 of the Act. Of the parties to the appeal, only Warford’s estate opposed the Attorney General’s application to intervene, noting that the Attorney General could have participated in earlier proceedings, and arguing that allowing the application had the potential to further delay the case because other interested parties, such as motor vehicle insurers, could seek to intervene as well.

HELD: Application dismissed. The Attorney General had no direct interest in the outcome of the litigation. The precedential value of the case was not a sufficient reason for intervention, nor was the public nature of cases involving legislative interpretation. The Attorney General had no special knowledge or expertise to provide to the Court. There was no void for the Attorney General to fill, given the expertise of the Commission, already a party. It was not clear that the Attorney General’s involvement would not further delay the appeal.

Warford v. Weir’s Construction Ltd., [2017] N.J. No. 12, Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court - Court of Appeal, J.D. Green C.J.N.L., January 17, 2017. Digest No. 3642-003