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Supreme Court Law Review





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Administrative law, jurisdiction, exclusive and concurrent jurisdiction, expertise, expediency, efficiency, human rights, independent adjudication, standard of review, legislative intent, deference


In this article, the administrative law decisions rendered by the Supreme Court of Canada during the 2004-2005 term are reviewed. These decisions addressed four major issues: i) exclusive and concurrent jurisdiction between competing adjudicative bodies; ii) the right to independent adjudication; iii) standard of review; and iv) expertise and deference. Questions relating to exclusive and concurrent jurisdiction occupied the most significant part of the Supreme Court's administrative law energy during the 2004-2005 term. The author analyzes these decisions on jurisdiction, paying particular attention to the many divides between the members of the Court. She argues that the decisions on jurisdiction ratione material between competing tribunals reflect a contest of two administrative law values that have become central to the Canadian administrative state: expertise and expediency. The Supreme Court's approach, which tends to privilege expediency, may have the effect of denying litigants the opportunity to obtain the most appropriate resolutions to their disputes - resolutions that benefit from the expertise and experience of the tribunals themselves. She also highlights the value of including the individual litigant's view of the dispute in the search for its essential character and possible parameters to the essential character test. Finally, the author discusses the issues related to interpreting legislative intent that arise in the cases concerning the right to independent adjudication and core expertise.