Developing Tort Law at an Intermediate Appellate Court

November 08, 2012

Justice Sharpe with Tort Law Research Group

(l-r) Prof. Jason Neyers, Justice Robert Sharpe, Associate Dean Erika Chamberlain and Prof. Stephen Pitel

On November 5, 2012, Justice Robert Sharpe of the Court of Appeal for Ontario delivered the first Tort Law Research Group public lecture for the 2012-13 academic year. Speaking to an enthusiastic audience of over 120 students and faculty members, Justice Sharpe discussed three cases that raised issues about the development of tort law by an intermediate appeal court.

The first case was Jones v Tsige, in which the court developed the tort of invasion of privacy, focusing specifically on the idea of "intrusion on seclusion." The second case was Quan v Cusson, in which the court developed the defamation defence of responsible journalism (now, more broadly, responsible communication in the public interest). The third case was Healey v Lakeridge Health Corporation, in which the court refused to expand the scope of recoverable harm in psychiatric injury cases. Justice Sharpe chose the three cases to reflect three different scenarios: one in which the Court of Appeal is not bound by higher authority, one in which the Court of Appeal is arguably bound by higher authority but that authority is several decades old, and one in which the Court of Appeal is confronted with recent but arguably unclear authority. Justice Sharpe's insights into how the court considers these different types of appeal were of particular interest to the audience.

Justice Sharpe is a Western alumnus. He is formerly a civil litigator, law professor and Dean at the University of Toronto, Executive Legal Officer of the Supreme Court of Canada, and judge of the Ontario Superior Court. He has been on the Court of Appeal for Ontario since 1999. He is the author of many books and articles and winner of numerous awards. Professor Jason Neyers clerked for Justice Sharpe during his first year on the Court of Appeal. "Justice Sharpe," said Neyers, "is the epitome of the pragmatic and principled common law judge."

The Tort Law Research Group's public lecture series is generously sponsored by Legate and Associates LLP. Founding lawyer Barbara Legate, a graduate of Western Law, leads a firm that uses a client-centred team approach focused on getting to know each client and assuring that he or she feels empowered. She has argued significant cases in a wide variety of situations, from administrative tribunals to the Ontario Court of Appeal. She was named 2010 Lawyer of the Year in Personal Injury Litigation. She attended the lecture along with her colleagues Joni Dobson and D. Alex Wolfe.

Western Law faculty, staff and students can watch a video of the lecture in the Tort Law Research Group Sakai section.