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Appeal-Judicial Review - Reasons - Presumption of Consistency With Correct Law and Record

. 1346134 Ontario Limited v. Wright

In 1346134 Ontario Limited v. Wright (Ont CA, 2023) the Court of Appeal considered the adequacy of reasons for decision:
Adequacy of reasons

[55] I will address first the adequacy of the trial judge’s reasons. When read as a whole, and in context, the trial judge’s reasons disclose what he decided and why, and allow for meaningful appellate review. As this court stated in Levac v. James, 2023 ONCA 73, at para. 76:
The adequacy of reasons must be determined functionally based on whether they permit meaningful appellate review. If they do, then an argument that the reasons are inadequate fails, despite any shortcomings: Farej v. Fellows, 2022 ONCA 254, leave to appeal to S.C.C. requested, 40198, at para. 45. Adequacy is contextual, and includes the issues raised at trial, the evidence adduced, and the arguments made before the trial judge. In general, reasons are to be read as a whole with the presumption that the trial judge knows the record and the law and has considered the parties’ arguments. [Emphasis Added].
[56] Appellate courts should prefer an interpretation that is consistent with this presumption of knowledge of the record and the law. In R. v. G.F., 2021 SCC 20, 459 D.L.R. (4th) 375, at para. 79, Karakatsanis J., for the majority, writes that:
Where ambiguities in a trial judge’s reasons are open to multiple interpretations, those that are consistent with the presumption of correct application must be preferred over those that suggest error. It is only where ambiguities, in the context of the record as a whole, render the path taken by the trial judge unintelligible that appellate review is frustrated.
[57] As noted in G.F., “even if the trial judge expresses themselves poorly, an appellate court that understands the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ from the record may explain the factual basis of the finding to the aggrieved party”: at para. 71; R. v. Sheppard, 2002 SCC 26, [2002] 1 S.C.R. 869, at para. 52.


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