Case Brief Wiki


This is an appeal of the decision in Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada v Bell Canada. On appeal Bell is arguing that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal process is unfair because the Canadian Human Rights Commission makes regulations that the Tribunal must follow, and then appears in front of them seeking favorable decisions. They claim that this constitutes a conflict of interest and a lack of necessary "judicial" independence.


  1. Does the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal lack independence and impartiality because of the power of the Canadian Human Rights Commission to issue binding guidelines for them before they appear in front of them?


Appeal dismissed, case to proceed to Tribunal.


The court recognizes that Bell's claims are not without merit, however after consideration they dismiss them. The court held that Bell did not provide sufficient evidence for their claims and also because they misunderstand impartiality - it does not mean having the freedom to decide a case however one wishes to, being subject to certain binding principles is perfectly legitimate for an impartial judiciary. Further, the Commission cannot create guidelines that favour them in the Tribunal, because to do so would be ultra vires their powers given in the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Tribunal is not bound by any such guidelines. The powers that the Commission has to enact guidelines under s.27(2) and s.27(3) of the Act are constrained as all powers to create subordinate legislation are, and therefore the system is not flawed.


  • Having one's decisions bound by enacted guidelines does not affect impartiality.
  • Agencies cannot enact subordinate legislation outside of their delegated powers.