Country
Canada
Sources
InforMEA
Tagging
Torts, Remedies, Evidence
Abstract
This was an appeal from the Trial Judge’s decision dismissing the appellant’s application for an interlocutory injunction. A fatal neurological disorder, BSE was first diagnosed and reported in 1986 in adult cattle in the U.K. Typically the diseased cow degenerates rapidly following a several-year incubation period. A ban on imports of cattle from the United Kingdom was imposed in 1990. In 1988 the appellant purchased and imported into Canada two Lincoln Red cattle from the U.K. After a beef cow imported from the UK by an Albertan farmer was found to have the disease, several countries threatened to restrict Canada’s access to the export market if it did not take appropriate measures to eliminate the risk of spread of this disease. The Minister directed that all cattle imported from the U.K. between 1986 and 1990 be destroyed. The Federal Court of Appeal held that the appeal by the appellant should be allowed. The Court was of the view that he would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction was refused. Under the Maximum Amounts for Destroyed Animals Regulations the Minister was required to pay a maximum of $2,000 per destroyed animal. Each of the animals in question was worth substantially more than this amount. Adequate compensation was to be measured in accordance with common law principles. The appellant was entitled to more than a mere possibility of recovering over and above the prescribed minimum compensation. Also, the appellant did not have a practical and viable tort remedy in the event that the animals were wrongfully slaughtered. The balance of convenience test was of paramount importance. It enabled a court to consider diverse factors which could not be quantified in monetary terms and which ensured flexibility in the application of equitable principles. The respondent had a duty to protect the public interest of all Canadians, not just those directly affected by notices issued under the Act. The substantial financial repercussions which could follow market restrictions could not be ignored. But the Minister’s willingness to let another case, predicated on the same reasoning, be decided on the merits, before taking the irreversible action contemplated in this case, tipped the balance of convenience in the appellant’s favor. The evidence did not support the assertion that cattle from one part of the U.K. were more at risk than those from another. If the Minister’s undertaking in the other case was based on this criterion, it conflicted with his decision not to treat the disease on a regional or individual basis in Canada because that solution would not address the demands of the international trade markets.