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 conflict within the Ukraine for greater than a 12 months.  And simply the opposite day, there was an earthquake in Turkey that has tragically killed tens of hundreds 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 had been damages and whole communities misplaced energy. It was blamed for the loss of life of 1 73-year-old girl. 

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 attraction. 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 attraction paperwork in time, he mentioned. 

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 forestall him from advancing different litigation towards her, throughout this very same time-period.

The courtroom began by trying on the procedural guidelines. Compliance with the closing dates for submitting a Discover of Attraction is a “important requirement”, and “Deadlines are usually construed to be necessary”.  This meant that until there’s a provision within the guidelines that enables for an extension, then the very fact the husband didn’t comply would outright preclude him from bringing his attraction.

Then again, beneath 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 attraction, attraction 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,” until a respondent has been prejudiced by the delay.

In figuring out the appropriate stability within the case, the courtroom needed to take into account the “pursuits of justice”, and ask itself these 4 questions: 

  • Did the husband have religion intent to attraction? 
  • Did his attraction have advantage?
  • Did he have an affordable excuse for the delay in not submitting inside the prescribed time?
  • Had been there distinctive or particular circumstances justifying the extension of time?

The courtroom then turned to the info.  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 greatest efforts throughout that point and had certainly taken just a few steps, however was apparently hindered by the shortage 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 attraction was “debatable”, which the courtroom discovered it was.  A quick delay would trigger the spouse no important 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)