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Federal Court finds that Air Canada violated Official Languages Act
Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP
  • Aviation
  • Canada
  • 12 December 2018

In a recent case that dealt with Air Canada's duty to serve passengers in both of Canada's official languages (English and French), the Federal Court held that the airline had violated a passenger's right to be served in French. The court found that Air Canada had failed to serve a passenger in French during an incident where the passenger had been involuntarily removed from a Canada-bound flight from Fort Lauderdale and when the airline later sent him a copy of its tariff in English in response to the incident.

Court finds in favour of Air Canada in denied boarding compensation case
Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP
  • Aviation
  • Canada
  • 14 November 2018

The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia recently ruled in favour of Air Canada, dismissing a passenger's appeal of the province's small claims court's interpretation of the air carrier's tariff provision which pertained to denied boarding compensation. Despite humble beginnings in the small claims court, the case provides some insight into how the Canadian courts may interpret air carrier tariffs and the evidence that claimants are expected to adduce to succeed in securing compensation in overbooking cases.

Federal Court quashes civil aviation safety alert
Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP
  • Aviation
  • Canada
  • 05 September 2018

In early 2018 the Federal Court reviewed a 2015 Transport Canada decision to issue a civil aviation safety alert (CASA) against Rotor Maxx Support Ltd. CASAs are non-mandatory notifications issued by the regulator which contain important safety information and recommended actions for appropriate stakeholders. The court had previously declined to grant an injunction preventing the issuance of the CASA.

Lack of night vision goggles insufficient for Labour Code conviction
Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP
  • Aviation
  • Canada
  • 25 April 2018

In a recent Ontario Court of Justice case, Ornge air ambulance services were charged under the Labour Code following an air ambulance crash that killed two pilots and two paramedics on a night flight. The Crown argued that the accident would not have occurred had the pilots been able to see the ground using night vision goggles, and that it had been Ornge's duty to ensure their safety by providing this technology. However, Ornge held that it had complied with all of the legal and regulatory requirements.

Airline ordered to pay C$295,000 penalty for tarmac delay
Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP
  • Aviation
  • Canada
  • 21 February 2018

Due to an unexpected thunderstorm, some passengers on two Air Transat flights were stranded on the tarmac in the aircraft that they had boarded in Europe for almost five and six hours, respectively. The Canadian Transportation Agency decided to investigate, which is noteworthy as there is little or no precedent for this sort of situation being the subject of an investigation or order by the agency.

Arbitrator rules that pilot training bonds require express authorisation to be enforceable
Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP
  • Aviation
  • Canada
  • 03 January 2018

In a recent federal labour arbitration, the Air Line Pilots Association brought a grievance on behalf of Jonathon Sipko against Air Georgian Limited for making unauthorised deductions from Sipko's wages when he left Air Georgian's employment less than one year after undergoing captain upgrade training. This case serves as a caution for airlines to ensure that they have express authorisations with employees (commonly in the form of written and signed agreements).

Changes to flight attendant manuals must have reasonable basis
Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP
  • Aviation
  • Canada
  • 11 October 2017

The minister of transport recently appealed a judicial review brought by the Canadian Union of Public Employees. At issue was a change in Sunwing's operating procedures relating to its staffing of flight attendants and whether the change would compromise the safety of passengers and crew members. The Federal Court concluded that ministerial approvals under the Canadian Aviation Regulations require a substantive review of the safety implications of a request, which did not occur in this case.

Online newspaper articles and libel do not toll notice and limitation periods
  • Tech, Data, Telecoms & Media
  • Canada
  • 27 July 2017

An eagerly anticipated media law decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal confirms what may seem to be an obvious legal proposition: the publication of a newspaper article online is treated the same as the print version for the purposes of notice and limitation periods in a civil action – in other words, time periods governing libel actions do not start afresh each day that an online article is online.

Court rules that carrier and ground handler need not be added as parties to complaint
Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP
  • Aviation
  • Canada
  • 05 July 2017

A complaint regarding the provision of passenger assistance services named neither the carrier nor the ground handling company as a respondent. Instead, only the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) was named. The GTAA asked the Canadian Transportation Agency to dismiss the complaint against it or add the carrier and the service provider as co-respondents to the complaint; however, its request was denied.

Claim for privilege over contents of cockpit voice recorder denied
Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP
  • Aviation
  • Canada
  • 29 March 2017

In a motion brought before the British Columbia Supreme Court, six aircraft passenger plaintiffs sought an order granting them access to the audio data from a cockpit voice recorder, as well as a partial transcript of that data. The Transportation Safety Board did not oppose the request for access, but appeared before the court to explain the enabling legislation and the policy reasons for the statutory privilege that pertains to such recordings.

Failure to include retraction or apology in defamation settlement offer has costs consequences
  • Tech, Data, Telecoms & Media
  • Canada
  • 16 March 2017

A recent decision of the Court of Queen's Bench in Alberta highlights the costs consequences of litigating civil actions in Canada in the context of a defamation action involving a self-represented plaintiff who was forced to proceed to trial in order to obtain public acknowledgement that the article in question was defamatory. The plaintiff ultimately obtained a damages award of C$200,000 and recovery of trial costs in the amount of C$250,000.

Fuel surcharge class action for international tickets certified
Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP
  • Aviation
  • Canada
  • 08 March 2017

The Quebec Superior Court recently authorised a class action brought against Air Canada seeking reimbursement of amounts paid to it as a fuel surcharge when purchasing tickets for international carriage. The court dismissed the arguments that it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case and that the representative plaintiff did not meet the requirements for certification.

Anti-SLAPP law: recent decisions
  • Tech, Data, Telecoms & Media
  • Canada
  • 19 January 2017

A defendant or respondent may bring a motion to dismiss an action as a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) and a judge must dismiss the proceeding if he or she is satisfied "that the proceeding arises from an expression made by the person that relates to a matter of public interest", unless the responding party proves certain facts. Two recent decisions have tested the new anti-SLAPP law in a manner that appears to embrace the philosophy behind the statute.

Helicopter pilot fails in constructive dismissal case
Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP
  • Aviation
  • Canada
  • 14 December 2016

In a recent case, the Supreme Court of British Columbia considered whether a helicopter pilot had been instructed to falsify his flight logs. It held that the issue could be reduced to which party's version of events was accepted and ruled in favour of the employer, finding its testimony to be straightforward, forthright and professional – in contrast to the pilot's vague and unconvincing responses.

Application of General Aviation Revitalisation Act rejected
Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP
  • Aviation
  • Canada
  • 09 November 2016

A recent Supreme Court decision found that aircraft manufacturers can avail themselves of the protections afforded by the General Aviation Revitalisation Act (GARA) regardless of where their products are deployed. However, the protections of GARA apply only to disputes litigated in the United States.

Court strikes out cancellation claim
Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP
  • Aviation
  • Canada
  • 14 September 2016

A passenger flew from Montreal to the Republic of Guinea, via Casablanca, with Morocco's national carrier. He departed in August 2011 and was due to return in November 2011, but did not return to Canada until more than one year after his scheduled return date. The passenger had to buy a new one-way ticket for the trip and sued the airline, claiming that it had cancelled his return flight and refused to provide him with an alternate flight. However, his claim was struck out.

Interactive Advance Passenger Information Initiative: coming soon
Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP
  • Aviation
  • Canada
  • 07 September 2016

Over the past few months the Canada Border Services Agency has been working with the more than 200 foreign air carriers that operate in Canada to transition them to the Interactive Advance Passenger Information Initiative, which takes effect at the end of September 2016. The main changes relate to the description of what information must be provided and the time by which that information must be provided.

Carrier's claim of faulty hangar design ruled out of time
Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP
  • Aviation
  • Canada
  • 06 July 2016

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently held that for a contractual limitation period to begin to run, it is not necessary that a plaintiff know the precise extent of its loss. In addition, mere discouragement from commencing an action is not enough to prevent the running of a limitation period. This case highlights the importance of staying conscious of limitation periods, even while attempting to find amicable solutions to problems.

CTA rules that NewLeaf requires no licence – yet
Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP
  • Aviation
  • Canada
  • 08 June 2016

NewLeaf Travel Company Inc – a Canadian 'virtual airline' and 'ticket seller' – sells ultra low-cost air services in conjunction with Flair Airlines Ltd. After NewLeaf announced that it would begin flights in February 2016, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) announced that it would review the arrangement to determine whether this particular business model in fact required a licence. The CTA recently issued its ruling.

Passenger who took advantage of mistaken fare ordered to pay costs
Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP
  • Aviation
  • Canada
  • 30 March 2016

In 2014 the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) issued the 'mistaken fares' trilogy of decisions, holding that in certain circumstances, air carriers can cancel tickets sold to passengers – and reimburse the price paid – where it could show that there had been a mistake in the price. The CTA recently considered this issue again.

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