Stockwoods lawyers Paul Le Vay, Carlo Di Carlo and Caitlin Milne successfully resisted certification of a class proceeding brought against Bell Canada on the behalf of prisoners from Ontario facilities. The claim related to the rates that Bell charged prisoners while providing telecommunications services at prison facilities. The class pleaded breach of the Consumer Protection Act, unconscionability, unjust enrichment and breach of the Telecommunications Act as against Bell.
Bell denied these allegations. It argued that the class failed to plead a reasonable cause of action. It also brought a cross motion urging the Ontario Superior Court to decline to exercise jurisdiction because the CRTC was the appropriate forum in which these issues should be litigated.
Justice Perell agreed with Bell. He found that the Telecommunications Act claim was not a reasonable cause of action and that the remainder of the causes of action dealt with issues within the subject matter expertise of the CRTC and should be left to that body to decide.
The decision is a reaffirmation of the Ontario Superior Court’s deferential approach to matters within the expertise of the CRTC. It also reflects the trend in case law for courts to assess the substance of a claim, not simply the causes of action asserted, in assessing jurisdiction.
A copy of the decision can be found here.