Focus On

Administrative Law - Judicial review and statutory appeal - Practice and procedure - Parties - Standing or locus standi

Thursday, December 08, 2016 @ 7:00 PM  

Appeal by Trustees of the Canadian Elevator Industry Education Program (CEIEP) from a declaration that they had no standing to object to the certificates of competency issued by the Chief Inspector. Mechanics working on elevators in Nova Scotia were required to have a certificate of competency which required completion of a training program provided by CEIEP or another equivalent education program acceptable to the Chief Inspector. CEIEP training was unavailable to those who worked for non-unionized companies. The Chief Inspector accepted and the Director later approved, a program offered by the Elevating Devices Training Academy (Academy) as an appropriate equivalent to CEIEP training. The individual respondents were employees of non-unionized businesses who took the Academy program. The corporate respondent employed five of them. Upon learning that the individual respondents had been granted certificates of competency, the Trustees of CEIEP applied for judicial review. The Chief Inspector and the Director (collectively the “Province”) objected to the Trustees’ standing to complain about authorization of a program which they did not offer, for which they were not responsible, and for mechanics whom they would not train. The judge granted the Province’s motion and held that CEIEP had no standing to object to the certificates of competency issued by the Chief Inspector. The judge found that CEIEP did not have private interest standing because it did not have a direct interest in the decision made by the Chief Inspector. She also found that the public safety aspect of the application did not elevate CEIEP to a public interest standing level. The Trustees appealed, arguing that the motions judge erred in finding that they had no private interest standing, no public interest standing, and that standing should be decided as a preliminary motion rather than at a hearing on the merits.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The motion judge correctly described the applicable test and there was nothing in her decision that suggested that she narrowed the test in principle. The trustees were not agents for settlors or beneficiaries. They administered the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. They were not the alter ego of the beneficiaries. The trustees were not competing with the Academy for the training of elevator mechanics because they had excluded non-unionized mechanized from CEIEP. The decision of the Chief Inspector did not have any impact on the Trustees. The Trustees did not have public interest standing. There was no serious justiciable issue. Safety concerns alone were not adequate grounds for public interest standing. The Academy was no longer offering the program, so the only people that would be affected were the individual respondents. The decision to hear the parties on the issue of standing prior to a hearing on the merits was one of discretion, which was entitled to deference. A full record was not necessary in order to determine the question of standing as the essential facts were known.