February 17, 2014
Reasons were issued today from the BCCA regarding the Hep-C class action that was settled 15 years ago for $1.1Bn.
As part of the settlement, the superior courts of BC, Ontario, and Quebec took a supervisory role for administration of the massive fund. There is expected to be a contentious application soon regarding the remainder of the fund. It made sense for it all to be heard together. Applications were brought in Ontario, BC, and PQ to have that hearing in Alberta with judges from each of the supervisory jurisdictions. Chief Justice Winkler of Ontario decided first and agreed to the Alberta hearing. Similar reasons were then released by CJSC Bauman and CJ Rolland from Quebec, all agreeing there was jurisdiction and that the hearing could be heard in Alberta.
However, despite the three provincial chief justices signing off, the BCCA held otherwise. The panel concluded that the judges could be physically sitting in Alberta but the hearings themselves would have to be in the Courtrooms of the home jurisdictions. Mr. Justice Goepel cites the Magna Carta’s prohibitions on judges sitting outside of England as being of “considerable import” to the present case.