Blais v. R. – TCC: Taxpayer’s appeal dismissed for want of prosecution

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Blais v. The Queen (November 25, 2014 – 2014 TCC 354, Lamarre J.).

Précis: The taxpayer’s appeal was dismissed in 2013 when he failed to appear for trial. He moved successfully to set that dismissal aside and the Court set a new trial date for November 18, 2014. Shortly before that date he moved for an adjournment.  That motion was denied. He did not appear on November 18 and his appeal was dismissed.

Decision:  This is a textbook example of a case where the Crown successfully moved to have an appeal struck for want of prosecution. The taxpayer failed to appear at the first hearing date in 2013 and his appeal was dismissed. He successfully moved to set that judgment aside but then failed to pursue his appeal actively:

[9] The motion to set the judgment aside was scheduled to be heard on March 13, 2014, and the appellant failed to appear. I dismissed the motion the same day.

[10] On March 14, 2014, the appellant came to the Court and said that he had been at the wrong courtroom the day before. After listening to his explanations, I gave him a chance and allowed his motion. I signed an order on March 21, 2014, setting aside the judgment dated July 8, 2013, and rescheduled the appeal to be heard on November 18, 2014.

[11] On November 13, 2014, the appellant made an adjournment request stating that he had to undergo prostate surgery in the following weeks and attaching a medical note.

[12] Counsel for the respondent objected arguing that the medical note does not indicate that the appellant could not appear at his trial on November 18, 2014. In addition, he argued that the appellant still had not provided any documentation in support of his claims.

[13] The Chief Justice of this Court denied the adjournment request, and the Court’s registry staff were not able to reach the appellant at the telephone number he had provided.

[14] The letter informing him that the adjournment had been denied was mailed on Friday, November 14, 2014.

[15] I am of the view that, by providing an incorrect telephone number, the appellant failed to take the measures needed for the Court to be able to inform him as soon as possible of the Chief Justice’s denial of his request for adjournment.

[16] The medical note did not state that the appellant was unable to appear in court on November 18, 2014.

[17] This file has been open for over two years, and the appellant has shown a lack of interest and concern with regard to his appeal to the Court. The appellant failed to return the calls of counsel for the respondent and to co-operate with the respondent regarding the documentation needed in order to potentially settle this file, gave the Court the wrong telephone number, and failed to appear on the scheduled hearing date for a second time.

[18] Therefore, I am of the view that the appeals should be dismissed for want of prosecution, with costs to the respondent.