Appellate judge frustrated with SCC for lack of guidance

An appellate-level judge has voiced his frustration with the Supreme Court of Canada for failing to provide sufficient guidance for judicial review in administrative law.

Justice David Stratas
Justice David Stratas’ paper advocates for a simpler standard of review that moves away from rigid categories and labels

The public criticism was issued last week by Federal Court of Appeal Justice David Stratas, in a paper entitled “The Canadian Law of Judicial Review: A Plea for Doctrinal Coherence and Consistency.”

In the paper, Stratas balances abstruse concepts in the esoteric, though critically important, world of administrative law, which governs the circumstances in which government and regulatory decisions may be appealed and how courts are to weigh those appeals.

Theoretically, administrative review relies on a conceptual framework created by the Supreme Court, but Stratas argues that the high court has failed to develop an approach that can be applied by lower courts consistently, preferring rather to deal with case-specific questions of public importance.

Even when the SCC does craft principles around review, Stratas writes, it does so in a way that only tweaks and rebalances the framework, rather than attempting to build a coherent model.

This content has been updated on February 29, 2016 at 21:32.