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Government Law - CROWN - Actions by and against Crown - Practice and procedure

Thursday, December 22, 2016 @ 7:00 PM  

Appeal by the Crown and cross-appeal by the respondents from a Federal Court order granting partial summary judgment in favour of the Crown. The respondents were individuals and fishing enterprises that held licences to fish snow crab. A dispute arose regarding the Crown’s approval and administration of a management plan related to the snow crab fishery. The respondents initiated an action alleging breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, expropriation without compensation, breach of contract, unjust enrichment and misfeasance in public office. The Crown moved for summary judgment dismissing the action. In response to the motion, the respondents stated they would not advance the claims for breach of fiduciary duty and negligence. The Federal Court dismissed the claims for breach of contract and the claims related to fisheries research contributions and the integration of a crab fishing area into other fisheries. The remaining claims of expropriation without compensation, unjust enrichment and misfeasance in public office were permitted to proceed. The Crown appealed on the basis it should have been granted summary judgment dismissing all claims. The respondents’ cross-appealed, seeking reinstatement of their claims for breach of contract and those arising from the integration of the crab fishing area.

HELD: Appeal allowed in part and cross-appeal dismissed. The Federal Court should have dismissed the respondents’ claim for compensation arising from expropriation, as it effectively sought compensation for fishing quota that had yet to be allocated to the respondents. In such circumstance, no cause of action for expropriation could be sustained. It followed that the unjust enrichment claim must also be quashed, as there was no proprietary interest in unallocated quota that gave rise to a deprivation. There was no basis for interference with the aspect of the ruling that permitted the claim for misfeasance in public office to proceed, as the nature of the evidence supported the finding of a genuine issue for trial. There was no basis for appellate interference with the remainder of the decision to grant summary judgment.