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Reasons for Judgment

Gholami v. The Hospital of Sick Children (Ont CA, 2018)

In this case the Court of Appeal canvasses some themes useful to deciding when reasons for decision are adequate:
[62] This brings us to the next issue. The appellant alleges that the reasons of the trial judge are devoid of a meaningful explanation for her findings of fact and that they prevent proper appellate review. In particular, the appellant contends that the trial judge failed to provide adequate reasons with respect to issues of credibility.

[63] Appellate intervention may be warranted where the insufficiency of trial reasons prevents meaningful appellate review. Reasons that permit meaningful appellate review justify and explain the result, inform the losing party why he lost, enable informed consideration as to whether to appeal and enable the public to determine whether justice has been done: R. v. Sheppard, 2002 SCC 26 (CanLII), [2002] 1 S.C.R. 869, at para. 24; Diamond Auto Collision Inc. v. The Economical Insurance Group, 2007 ONCA 487 (CanLII), 227 O.A.C. 51, at para. 11; Dovbush v. Mouzitchka, 2016 ONCA 381 (CanLII), 131 O.R. (3d) 474, at paras. 21-22; see also R. v. R.E.M., 2008 SCC 51 (CanLII), [2008] 3 S.C.R. 3, at paras. 10-35. Appellate courts take a contextual and functional approach to determining whether reasons permit meaningful and effective appellate review.

[64] Even if the reasons of the trial judge do not on their face reveal "what" was decided and "why" it was decided, this court is obliged to consider the trial record to determine if the reasons are more comprehensible when read in that context: Maple Ridge Community Management Ltd. v. Peel Condominium Corp. No. 231, 2015 ONCA 520 (CanLII), 389 D.L.R. (4th) 711, at paras. 30-32. This is desirable as it eliminates the expense and delay associated with another trial.

[65] It is well-established that a trial judge is not required to reconcile or refer to every discrepancy in the evidence. A particular challenge arises when credibility findings are required but not made, or if no analysis for the rejection of important conflicting evidence is provided. Where a case turns largely on a determination of credibility, a failure to sufficiently articulate how credibility concerns were resolved may constitute reversible error: R. v. Dinardo, 2008 SCC 24 (CanLII), [2008] 1 S.C.R. 788, at para. 26 and Dovbush, at paras. 28-29.

[66] We agree that the trial judge failed to explain her findings and conclusions on the issues of bad faith and defamation. She simply recited the respondents’ legal position and indicated that she agreed with it. She did not resolve the conflicting evidence between the appellant’s and respondents’ diametrically opposed versions of events. Nor can we determine the basis for the trial judge’s credibility findings that were central to the determination of that dispute.

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