Harvest Operations – Alberta Court of Appeal states that it cannot use its general equitable jurisdiction to do an end run around the narrow (post-Fairmont) rectification doctrine

Dario J followed the maverick approach to tax rectification of Graymar rather than the more generous Juliar approach. The maverick subsequently was elevated and wrote the majority decision in Fairmont. In now trying to reverse Dario J’s decision, the appellant argued that the Alberta Court of Appeal should exercise its “general equitable jurisdiction to rectify the errors,” citing TCR as an example where this had occurred.

No go. The Court stated:

Without commenting on the merits of the assertion that a superior court has “equitable jurisdiction to relieve persons from the effect of their mistakes”, we fail to see how we can do this without undermining the rectification doctrine and ignoring the precedential value of Fairmont Hotels.

There is no principled basis, in the guise of exercising our equitable jurisdiction, to pump theoretical steroids into the rectification doctrine and give it the strength or force that the Supreme Court of Canada recently and consistently has declined to do.

Neal Armstrong. Summary of Harvest Operations Corp. v. Attorney General of Canada, 2017 ABCA 393 under General Concepts – Rectification.