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Conflict of Laws - Proceedings - Appeals and judicial review - Leave to appeal - Practice and procedure - Stays - Pending concurrent proceedings - In another Canadian jurisdiction

Thursday, November 24, 2016 @ 7:00 PM  

Application by the defendants, Bennett Jones and Matthews, for leave to appeal a judgment refusing to stay the plaintiffs’ action on jurisdictional grounds. In 2015, the plaintiffs sued the defendants in Alberta seeking damages for breach of contractual and professional duties. In 2016, a comparable action was commenced in Saskatchewan. The defendants applied for an order staying or striking the Saskatchewan action on jurisdictional grounds. The plaintiffs acknowledged that the two actions were grounded upon the same complaints and facts and undertook to discontinue the Alberta action if the Saskatchewan action was permitted to proceed. The chambers judge determined that Saskatchewan had territorial competence and was the most appropriate forum for conduct of the litigation. The judge acknowledged that the two actions presented an abuse of process and stayed the Saskatchewan action pending proof of the plaintiffs’ undertaking to discontinue the Alberta action, at which point the Saskatchewan action could proceed. The defendants sought leave to appeal.

HELD: Application dismissed. The effect of the chambers judge’s decision was that no steps could be taken in the Saskatchewan action until the Alberta action was discontinued. The plaintiffs did not intend to proceed in two jurisdictions, and the chambers judge made any such abuse of process impossible. There was no basis for granting leave to appeal the chambers judge’s decisions regarding territorial competence, appropriate forum, or jurisdiction. The defendants placed those issues before the chambers judge. The weight given to the evidence regarding the issues was clearly within the province of the chambers judge. No misstatement of the applicable law was alleged. The defendants failed to establish the merits or importance of their proposed grounds of appeal.