Decision Date: August 16, 2007
Before: Prowse, J.
Cite: 2007 BCCA 418
Western Forest Products Limited (“Western”) applied for leave to appeal to the British Columbia Court of Appeal an order of a chambers judge, staying a 2005 decision of the Forest Appeals Commission. The Commission had found that a log dump in Jordan River was “not suitable” as an appraisal log dump for the purpose of calculating stumpage to be paid to the Province.
The Court considered the criteria set out in Queens Plate Dev. Ltd. v. Vancouver Assessor, Area 09 (1987), 16 B.C.L.R. (2d) 104, including whether the appeal raised questions of statutory interpretation and whether there was some prospect of the appeal succeeding on its merits, and whether there was any clear benefit to be derived from the appeal.
With respect to the merits test, the Court found that the chambers judge had incorrectly set fort the relevant standard of review to be applied to the Commission’s decision. The Court agreed with Western that adopting the correct standard of review was critical to a proper analysis by the chambers judge of the Commission’s decision, and found that the standard of review was a significant ground of appeal.
The Court further determined that there was an arguable case that the chambers judge erred in his interpretation of section 4.1 of the Coast Appraisal Manual. The Court noted that the interpretation of that provision had been part of a continuing dispute between the Ministry and licensees, and that it raised questions as to the relevance of Ministry policies and the admissibility of certain types of evidence as aids to interpretation. The Court found these to be questions of general importance to the industry, and concluded that there was a clear benefit to the parties and others in having these issues addressed by the Court. As a result, the Court granted leave to appeal.