The Ontario Court of Appeal released its decision today on 15 motions to intervene as an amicus curiae in the case of Trinity Western University and Brayden Volkenant v. The Law Society of Upper Canada. Gavin Magrath represented Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), one of the successful interveners, in the hearing before Associate Chief Justice Hoy.

The appeal is brought by TWU following Justice Nordheimer’s rejection of their application for judicial review of the LSUC’s decision not to accredit TWU for the purposes of determining a candidates qualification to sit the bar exam. Candidates must either have a degree from an accredited law school, or a law degree and a certificate of qualification from the National Committee on Accreditation.

The Court faced a challenge in balancing the interests of various groups to make representations in a case that has substantial public interest ramifications with the need to manage its own process and conduct litigation effectively. While each of the proposed interveners had a real and substantial connection to the subject matter, given the sheer number of interveners there was bound to be overlap in their perspectives and positions. Rule 13 requires that the interventions be useful and distinct from those of the parties (and other intervenors): see R v Finta, 1 S.C.R. 1138, at p.1142.

While groups OutLAW and Out on Bay Street made joint submissions, six faith-based groups sought intervener status; in the result, several were denied standing.

LRWC proposes and has been granted standing to present arguments to the Court in respect of Canada’s obligations under international human rights law, including under international treaties and conventions such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

It is LRWC’s position that not only are these sources of international law of assistance in interpreting analogous domestic obligations under the Charter and human rights legislation (see e.g. R. v. Hape, [2007] 2 SCR 292, 2007 SCC 26 at 55), but also that they reflect binding obligations on Canada under international human rights law, such that statements of relevant treaty bodies and dispute resolution mechanisms are not merely persuasive but have the force of law in Canada.