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Siskinds franchise lawyer, Peter Dillon was recently interviewed by Law Times regarding the recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision Stuart Budd & Sons Ltd. v. IFS Vehicle Distributors ULC. To read about this decision and other comments by Peter Dillon, see the AdvocateDaily.com article below.

Advocate Role Includes Reigning in Over-zealousness On The Bench

By AdvocateDaily.com Staff

A rare Court of Appeal ruling that found a lower court judge had shown a reasonable apprehension of bias is a warning to lawyers to be on guard when things seem to be going too well, franchise lawyer Peter Dillon tells Law Times.

In its Jan. 21 decision in Stuart Budd & Sons Ltd. v. IFS Vehicle Distributors ULC, the appeal court ruled that Justice David Corbett of the Superior Court of Justice was found to have shown a reasonable apprehension of bias, concluding that IFS “did not receive the fair hearing to which they were entitled.”

As Justice Gloria Epstein wrote: “I have no doubt that the motion judge was well-intentioned. I have no doubt that he put a great deal of effort into resolving the jurisdiction issue.

“However, my review of the three endorsements leads me to conclude that the motion judge’s actions gave rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias. He made unwarranted negative comments about the appellants — their counsel, their position and their arguments — prior to the conclusion of argument and arbitrarily curtailed argument.”

The Court of Appeal set aside Corbett’s $50,000 costs order against IFS, and also ordered the joinder and forum non conveniens motion be heard again before a different Superior Court judge.

“If you find yourself in a position where the judge appears unduly supportive of your arguments, then perhaps you shouldn’t run too far ahead,” Dillon, partner with Siskinds LLP, says in the article.

He says lawyers should rely on the case and take on the role of officer of the court to ensure both sides have been properly represented to the bench.

“This is where you act as an officer of the court; if you’re going to advocate to the best of your ability, it includes to a certain extent reining in an overzealous judge,” Dillon explains.

“This case will serve as a pretty good stick to beat back that overzealousness.”

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