Is Hurricane Fiona A Good Excuse for Lacking a Court docket Deadline?

Hurricane Fiona: A Good Excuse for Lacking a Household Court docket Deadline?

The world has seen greater than its share of turmoil currently:  We’re closing in on three years of coping with a pandemic.  There’s been a Russian-led warfare within the Ukraine for greater than a yr.  And simply the opposite day, there was an earthquake in Turkey that has tragically killed tens of 1000’s of its residents.

Though Canada has been comparatively unscathed, we did have a extreme climate occasion on September 24, 2022, when Hurricane Fiona hit land in Prince Edward Island. 

That hurricane wreaked some havoc in area. Buildings have been damages and full communities misplaced energy. It was blamed for the demise of 1 73-year-old lady. 

And in a single divorce case out of PEI, it was additionally blamed for a husband’s failure to file his Discover of Attraction on time.  

In asking the courtroom for a proper extension, the husband defined that Hurricane Fiona took out his energy for just a few days, and he had no Wi-Fi to permit him to analysis and put together the supplies he wanted for his enchantment. He additionally claimed he was mentally confused throughout this time, and had a pre-existing medical situation that was exacerbated by the entire ordeal. This left him bodily unable to arrange the enchantment paperwork in time, he stated. 

The spouse objected to an extension.  Even taking Hurricane Fiona into consideration, the husband had no legitimate excuse for his delay, she claimed.  He had missed the appeal-filing deadline by a full three weeks by the point he obtained round to asking for an extension.  As for so-called medical excuse:  She famous it didn’t appear to stop him from advancing different litigation towards her, throughout this very same time-period.

The courtroom began by wanting on the procedural guidelines. Compliance with the closing dates for submitting a Discover of Attraction is a “essential requirement”, and “Deadlines are typically construed to be obligatory”.  This meant that except there’s a provision within the guidelines that enables for an extension, then the actual fact the husband didn’t comply would outright preclude him from bringing his enchantment.

However, below the PEI Guidelines a courtroom has the discretion to grant an extension “on such phrases as are simply”.   The courtroom defined the governing ideas: 

In exercising discretion to grant aid from compliance with the time restrict for commencing an enchantment, enchantment courts try and reconcile the competing pursuits of finality and certainty for the profitable occasion to the continuing and the impact for the unsuccessful occasion of failing to adjust to the time restrict.  … [one] competing curiosity is that “it’s fascinating to have appeals selected their deserves,” except a respondent has been prejudiced by the delay.

In figuring out the proper steadiness within the case, the courtroom needed to contemplate the “pursuits of justice”, and ask itself these 4 questions: 

  • Did the husband have a great religion intent to enchantment? 
  • Did his enchantment have advantage?
  • Did he have an affordable excuse for the delay in not submitting throughout the prescribed time?
  • Have been there distinctive or particular circumstances justifying the extension of time?

The courtroom then turned to the details.  The acknowledged that native courthouses weren’t operations for a 10-day interval on account of lack of electrical energy.  The husband professed to creating his finest efforts throughout that point and had certainly taken just a few steps, however was apparently hindered by the dearth of energy and Wi-Fi.  The courtroom additionally heard from the husband’s household doctor, who confirmed he had nervousness and panic dysfunction (with the attendant difficulties in concentrating and speaking) in addition to Crohn’s illness. 

By way of the deserves of the case, all of the husband needed to present was that the enchantment was “debatable”, which the courtroom discovered it was.  A short delay would trigger the spouse no vital prejudice to her case.

Ultimately, the courtroom dominated the husband had an affordable excuse for the missed deadline, and granted him a brief extension.  

[Wonder how the excuse of “my dog ate my court documents” would go over with a court?]

Full textual content of the choice:

R. v. .R, 2023 PECA 1 (CanLII)