Case Brief Wiki


The Chief Prosecutor of the city contacted the Premier who spoke to the Chairman of the Quebec Liquor Commission. Roncarelli's liquor licence was subsequently revoked. Extensive testimony showed the government actors believed Roncarelli was disrupting the court system, causing civil disorder, and was therefore not entitled to the liquor licence. Roncarelli was told that he was “forever” barred from holding a liquor licence and that this action was a warning to others that they would similarly be stripped of provincial “privileges” if they persisted in their activities related to the Witnesses of Jehovah

Roncarelli received news of the revocation in December 1946, and while he tried to keep his business open without the licence, it was not profitable and he put it up for sale within six months. Consequently, he brought an action against Duplessis for $118,741 in damages. At trial, the Quebec Court of Queen's Bench found in favour of Roncarelli, however it was overturned on appeal.


  1. Did the Premier of Quebec overstep his authority in revoking the liquor license of Roncarelli?


Finding for Roncarelli, $33,123.53 in damages awarded plus costs.


Cartwright wrote a dissenting judgement which argued that it was within the power of the commission to refuse to grant Roncarelli a permit as the act only fettered the commission by delineating circumstances under which the granting of a permit was forbidden and circumstances in which the cancellation of a permit was mandatory, and nothing more. The Justice argued that as this was an administrative tribunal, and not a judicial one, it was "a law unto itself" and did not need to base its decision on anything more than policy and expediency. Cartwright went on to argue that even if the commission were to be considered quasi-judicial, in which case procedural fairness guarantees would apply, that still would not entitle the plaintiff to monetary damages.