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Ontario and Canada
Appeal Court Dicta

Federal Court - Amending Pleadings - Federal

. Bigeagle v. Canada

In Bigeagle v. Canada (Fed CA, 2023) the Federal Court of Appeal considered (and tragically denied) an appeal of a decision not to grant leave to amend pleadings, here in an important indigenous class action addressing the historical abuse and genocide of native women:
[27] The decision to grant or deny leave to amend pleadings is a discretionary one that is equally subject to review on the standard set out in Housen (Ramos v. Canada (Attorney General), 2019 FCA 205 at para. 21; Miller v. Canada, 2019 FCA 61 at para. 10; Heli Tech Services (Canada) Ltd. v. Weyerhaeuser Company Limited, 2011 FCA 193 at para. 24).


(3) Leave to amend

[101] Ms. BigEagle claims that the motion judge erred when she concluded that it was impossible to amend the pleadings in order to correct the alleged deficiencies, and that no evidence had been submitted demonstrating the pleadings could be amended to focus on a manageable cause of action. She argues that the provision of evidence is irrelevant to the pleadings. Also, the mere fact that the pleadings were amended in the past should not preclude further amendments. She further asserts that the motion judge erred when she struck the claim on her own motion. The motion judge should have allowed her to renew the motion on a changed record, or permitted the action to proceed as an individual action.

[102] I agree with Ms. BigEagle that the respondent did not specifically seek an order striking the claim. However, the Federal Court has the inherent jurisdiction to manage its own process and proceedings (Lee v. Canada (Correctional Services Canada), 2017 FCA 228 at paras. 6-8). The motion judge noted that the pleadings had been amended several times without curing the deficiencies and found that the defects in the statement of claim did not amount to “drafting deficiencies” (Reasons at para. 246).

[103] In my view, it was open to the motion judge to find that that the claim was too broad and could not be cured by amendment. When she referred to the absence of evidence, it was not in terms of proof. It was that no suggestion had been made as to how the pleadings might be amended. Likewise, Ms. BigEagle has not identified to this Court how the pleadings could have been amended to support the alleged causes of actions. I have not been persuaded that the motion judge committed a reviewable error in this regard.
. Rebello v. Canada (Justice)

In Rebello v. Canada (Justice) (Fed CA, 2023) the Federal Court of Appeal held that when striking pleadings a court may deny leave to amend if it would be futile to grant it:
[17] As stated at the outset of these reasons, a pleading in the Federal Court may be struck if, assuming the facts as pleaded are true, it is plain and obvious that the pleading discloses no reasonable cause of action. The Federal Court found this to be the case here and held that the Statement of Claim ought to be struck without leave to amend. It is open to the Federal Court to strike a pleading without leave to amend where the defects in the pleading are such that they cannot be cured by amendments (Simon v. Canada, 2011 FCA 6 at para. 8).
. Canada (National Revenue) v. Sharp

In Canada (National Revenue) v. Sharp (Fed CA, 2022) the Federal Court of Appeal considered leave to amend pleadings in the Federal Court:
[88] The general principle to be applied is that leave should be granted unless it is plain and obvious that the defect in the pleading cannot be cured by amendment (Enercorp at para. 27; Simon v. Canada, 2011 FCA 6 at para. 15, 410 N.R. 374). This is a low bar.


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