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Injunctions - Interlocutory Injunctions


Part 2


Interlocutory injunctions are judged on the three-part interlocutory injunction test (merits, irreparable harm and balance of convenience), most well-known in the RJR-MacDonald Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General) (SCC, 1994) case. The RJR-Macdonald test is also used for 'stays pending appeal', so you may want to review those cases as well: Stays Pending Appeal (+).

. Air Passengers Rights v. Canada (Transportation Agency)

In Air Passengers Rights v. Canada (Transportation Agency) (Fed CA, 2020) the Federal Court of Appeal addressed an aggressive consumer rights group's application for interlocutory injunctions (some mandatory in nature) against the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA). During the COVID-19 crisis the CTA issued on it's website comments that may be construed as offering airlines an exemption from duties of refund they may face in the rash of cancellations so caused:
3. The Test for Injunctive Relief

[13] The parties agree that in determining whether APR is entitled to interlocutory injunctive relief, the test to be applied is that established by the Supreme Court of Canada in RJR-MacDonald Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General), 1994 CanLII 117 (SCC), [1994] 1 S.C.R. 311, 111 D.L.R. (4th) 385.

[14] That is, the Court must consider three questions:
1) Whether APR has established that there is a serious issue to be tried in the underlying application for judicial review;

2) Whether irreparable harm will result if the injunction is not granted; and

3) Whether the balance of convenience favours the granting of the injunction.
[15] The RJR-MacDonald test is conjunctive, with the result that an applicant must satisfy all three elements of the test in order to be entitled to relief: Janssen Inc. v. Abbvie Corp., 2014 FCA 112, 120 C.P.R. (4th) 385 at para. 14.

4. Has APR Raised a Serious Issue?

[16] The threshold for establishing the existence of a serious issue to be tried is usually a low one, and applicants need only establish that the underlying application is neither frivolous nor vexatious. A prolonged examination of the merits of the application is generally neither necessary nor desirable: RJR-MacDonald, above at 335, 337-338.

[17] With this low threshold in mind, I will assume that APR has satisfied the serious issue component of the injunctive test to the extent that it seeks to enjoin members of the CTA from dealing with passenger complaints on the basis that a reasonable apprehension of bias exists on their part. However, as will be explained further on in these reasons, I am not persuaded that APR has satisfied the irreparable harm component of the injunctive test in this regard.

[18] However, APR also seeks mandatory orders compelling the CTA to remove the two statements from its website and directing it to "“clarify any misconceptions for passengers who previously contacted the Agency regarding refunds arising from COVID-19, and key stakeholders of the travel industry”". It further seeks a mandatory order requiring that the CTA bring this Court’s order and the removal or clarification of the CTA’s previous statements to the attention of airlines and a travel association.

[19] A higher threshold must be met to establish a serious issue where a mandatory interlocutory injunction is sought compelling a respondent to take action prior to the determination of the underlying application on its merits. In such cases, the appropriate inquiry is whether the party seeking the injunction has established a strong prima facie case: R. v. Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 2018 SCC 5, [2018] 1 S.C.R. 196 at para. 15. That is, I must be satisfied upon a preliminary review of the case that there is a strong likelihood that APR will be ultimately successful in its application: C.B.C., above at para. 17.

[20] As will be explained below, I am not persuaded that APR has established a strong prima facie case here as the administrative action being challenged in its application for judicial review is not amenable to judicial review.

[21] APR concedes that the statements on the CTA website do not reflect decisions, determinations, orders or legally-binding rulings on the part of the Agency. It notes, however, that subsection 18.1(1) of the Federal Courts Act does not limit the availability of judicial review to formal decisions or orders, stating rather that applications may be brought "“by anyone directly affected by the matter in respect of which relief is sought”" [my emphasis].

[22] Not every administrative action gives rise to a right to judicial review. No right of review arises where the conduct in issue does not affect rights, impose legal obligations, or cause prejudicial effects: Democracy Watch v. Canada (Attorney General), 2020 FCA 69, [2020] F.C.J. No. 498 at para. 19. See also Tsleil-Waututh Nation v. Canada (Attorney General), 2018 FCA 153, [2019] 2 F.C.R. No. 3, leave to appeal to SCC refused 38379 (2 May 2019); Democracy Watch v. Canada (Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner), 2009 FCA 15, 86 Admin. L.R. (4th) 149.

[23] For example, information bulletins and non-binding opinions contained in advance tax rulings have been found not to affect rights, impose legal obligations, or cause prejudicial effects: see, for example, Air Canada v. Toronto Port Authority at al., 2011 FCA 347, 426 N.R. 131; Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc. v. Minister of National Revenue, [1998] 2 C.T.C. 176, 148 F.T.R. 3. It is noteworthy that in its Notice of Application, APR itself states the CTA’s statements "“purport[t] to provide an unsolicited advance ruling”" as to how the CTA will deal with passenger complaints about refunds for pandemic-related flight cancellations.

[24] I will return to the issue of the impact of the CTA’s statements on APR in the context of my discussion of irreparable harm, but suffice it to say at this juncture that there is no suggestion that APR is itself directly affected by the statements in issue. The statements on the CTA website also do not determine the right of airline passengers to refunds where their flights have been cancelled by airlines for pandemic-related reasons.

[25] Noting the current extraordinary circumstances, the statements simply suggest that having airlines provide affected passengers with vouchers or credits for future travel "“could be”" an appropriate approach in the present context, as long as these vouchers or credits do not expire in an unreasonably short period of time. This should be contrasted with the situation that confronted the Federal Court in Larny Holdings Ltd. v. Canada (Minister of Health), 2002 FCT 750, relied on by APR, where the statement in issue included a clear statement of how, in the respondent’s view, the law was to be interpreted and the statement in issue was intended to be coercive in nature.

[26] As a general principle, CTA policy documents are not binding on it as a matter of law: Canadian Pacific Railway Company v. Cambridge (City), 2019 FCA 254, 311 A.C.W.S. (3d) 416 at para. 5. Moreover, in this case the Statement on Vouchers specifically states that "“any specific situation brought before the Agency will be examined on its merits”". It thus remains open to affected passengers to file complaints with the CTA (which will be dealt with once the current suspension of dispute resolution services has ended) if they are not satisfied with a travel voucher, and to pursue their remedies in this Court if they are not satisfied with the Agency’s decisions.

[27] It thus cannot be said that the impugned statements affect rights, impose legal obligations, or cause prejudicial effects on either APR or airline passengers. While this finding is sufficient to dispose of APR’s motion for mandatory relief, as will be explained below, I am also not persuaded that it has satisfied the irreparable harm component of the test.

5. Irreparable Harm

[28] A party seeking interlocutory injunctive relief must demonstrate with clear and non-speculative evidence that it will suffer irreparable harm between now and the time that the underlying application for judicial review is finally disposed of.

[29] APR has not argued that it will itself suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted. It relies instead on the harm that it says will befall Canadian airline passengers whose flights have been cancelled for pandemic-related reasons. However, while APR appears to be pursuing this matter as a public interest litigant, it has not yet sought or been granted public interest standing.

[30] As a general rule, only harm suffered by the party seeking the injunction will qualify under this branch of the test: RJR-MacDonald, above at 341; Manitoba (Attorney General) v. Metropolitan Stores Ltd., 1987 CanLII 79 (SCC), [1987] 1 S.C.R. 110, 38 D.L.R. (4th) 321 at 128. There is a limited exception to this principle in that the interests of those individuals dependent on a registered charity may also be considered under this branch of the test: Glooscap Heritage Society v. Minister of National Revenue, 2012 FCA 255, 440 N.R. 232 at paras. 33-34; Holy Alpha and Omega Church of Toronto v. Attorney General of Canada, 2009 FCA 265, [2010] 1 C.T.C. 161 at para. 17. While APR is a not-for-profit corporation, there is no suggestion that it is a registered charity.

[31] I am also not persuaded that irreparable harm has been established, even if potential harm to Canadian airline passengers is considered.

[32] Insofar as APR seeks to enjoin the CTA from dealing with passenger complaints, it asserts that the statements in issue were published contrary to the CTA’s own Code of Conduct. This prohibits members from publicly expressing opinions on potential cases or issues relating to the work of the Agency that may create a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of the member. According to APR, the two statements at issue here create a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of the CTA’s members such that they will be unable to provide complainants with a fair hearing.

[33] Bias is an attitude of mind that is unique to an individual. As a result, an allegation of bias must be directed against a specific individual who is alleged to be unable to bring an impartial mind to bear on a matter: E.A. Manning Ltd. v. Ontario Securities Commission, 1995 CanLII 1706 (ON CA), 23 O.R. (3d) 257, 32 Admin. L.R. (2d) 1 (C.A.), citing Bennett v. British Columbia (Securities Commission) (1992), 1992 CanLII 1527 (BC CA), 69 B.C.L.R. (2d) 171, 94 D.L.R. (4th) 339 (C.A.).

[34] As is the case with many administrative bodies, the CTA carries out both regulatory and adjudicative functions. It resolves specific commercial and consumer transportation-related disputes and acts as an industry regulator issuing permits and licences to transportation providers. The CTA also provides the transportation industry and the travelling public with non-binding guidance with respect to the rights and obligations of transportation service providers and consumers.

[35] There is no evidence before me that the members of the CTA were involved in the formulation of the statements at issue here, or that they have endorsed them. Courts have, moreover, rejected the notion that a "“corporate taint”" can arise based on statements by non-adjudicator members of multi-function organizations: Zündel v. Citron, 2000 CanLII 17137 (FCA), [2000] 4 FC 225,189 D.L.R. (4th) 131 at para. 49 (C.A.); E.A. Manning Ltd., above at para. 24.

[36] Even if it subsequently turns out that CTA members were in fact involved in the formulation of the statements, APR’s argument could be advanced in the context of an actual passenger complaint and any bias concerns could be addressed in that context. Relief could then be sought in this Court if the complainant is not persuaded that they have received a fair hearing. The alleged harm is thus not irreparable.

[37] APR also asserts that passengers are being misled by the travel industry as to the import of the CTA’s statements, and that airlines, travel insurers and others are citing the statements as a basis to deny reimbursement to passengers whose flights have been cancelled for pandemic-related reasons. If third parties are misrepresenting what the CTA has stated, recourse is available against those third parties and the alleged harm is thus not irreparable.
. Rabi v. University of Toronto

In Rabi v. University of Toronto (Ont CA, 2020) the Court of Appeal set out the test for interlocutory injunctions:
[21] The application judge correctly set out the legal test for an interlocutory injunction from RJR-MacDonald v. Canada (Attorney General), 1994 CanLII 117 (SCC), [1994] 1 S.C.R. 311, at p. 334. This test requires the applicant to demonstrate that the interests of justice call for a stay by showing: (1) that there is a serious issue to be tried; (2) that he will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is refused, and (3) the balance of convenience favours the injunction.
. Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc.

In this interesting and wide-ranging case, Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc. (Ont CA, 2017), the Supreme Court of Canada reviews the law of interlocutory injunctions (injunctions issued pending the outcome of the primary proceeding) against a large international third party, which in this case was alleged to be aiding the defendant in the breach of the plaintiff's intellectual property rights:
[22] The decision to grant an interlocutory injunction is a discretionary one and entitled to a high degree of deference (Manitoba (Attorney General) v. Metropolitan Stores Ltd., 1987 CanLII 79 (SCC), [1987] 1 S.C.R. 110, at pp. 155-56). In this case, I see no reason to interfere.

[23] Injunctions are equitable remedies. “The powers of courts with equitable jurisdiction to grant injunctions are, subject to any relevant statutory restrictions, unlimited” (Ian Spry, The Principles of Equitable Remedies (9th ed. 2014), at p. 333). Robert Sharpe notes that “[t]he injunction is a flexible and drastic remedy. Injunctions are not restricted to any area of substantive law and are readily enforceable through the court’s contempt power” (Injunctions and Specific Performance (loose-leaf ed.), at para. 2.10).

[24] An interlocutory injunction is normally enforceable until trial or some other determination of the action. Interlocutory injunctions seek to ensure that the subject matter of the litigation will be “preserved” so that effective relief will be available when the case is ultimately heard on the merits (Jeffrey Berryman, The Law of Equitable Remedies (2nd ed. 2013), at pp. 24-25). Their character as “interlocutory” is not dependent on their duration pending trial.

[25] RJR — MacDonald Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General), 1994 CanLII 117 (SCC), [1994] 1 S.C.R. 311, sets out a three-part test for determining whether a court should exercise its discretion to grant an interlocutory injunction: is there a serious issue to be tried; would the person applying for the injunction suffer irreparable harm if the injunction were not granted; and is the balance of convenience in favour of granting the interlocutory injunction or denying it. The fundamental question is whether the granting of an injunction is just and equitable in all of the circumstances of the case. This will necessarily be context-specific.

[26] Google does not dispute that there is a serious claim. Nor does it dispute that Equustek is suffering irreparable harm as a result of Datalink’s ongoing sale of the GW1000 through the Internet. And it acknowledges, as Fenlon J. found, that it inadvertently facilitates the harm through its search engine which leads purchasers directly to the Datalink websites.

[27] Google argues, however, that the injunction issued against it is not necessary to prevent that irreparable harm, and that it is not effective in so doing. Moreover, it argues that as a non-party, it should be immune from the injunction. As for the balance of convenience, it challenges the propriety and necessity of the extraterritorial reach of such an order, and raises freedom of expression concerns that it says should have tipped the balance against granting the order. These arguments go both to whether the Supreme Court of British Columbia had jurisdiction to grant the injunction and whether, if it did, it was just and equitable to do so in this case.

[28] Google’s first argument is, in essence, that non-parties cannot be the subject of an interlocutory injunction. With respect, this is contrary to the jurisprudence. Not only can injunctive relief be ordered against someone who is not a party to the underlying lawsuit, the contours of the test are not changed. As this Court said in MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. v. Simpson, 1996 CanLII 165 (SCC), [1996] 2 S.C.R. 1048, injunctions may be issued “in all cases in which it appears to the court to be just or convenient that the order should be made . . . on terms and conditions the court thinks just” (para. 15, citing s. 36 of the Law and Equity Act, R.S.B.C. 1979, c. 224). MacMillan Bloedel involved a logging company seeking to restrain protesters from blocking roads. The company obtained an interlocutory injunction prohibiting not only specifically named individuals, but also “John Doe, Jane Doe and Persons Unknown” and “all persons having notice of th[e] Order” from engaging in conduct which interfered with its operations at specific locations (para. 5). In upholding the injunction, McLachlin J. noted that
[i]t may be confidently asserted . . . that both English and Canadian authorities support the view that non-parties are bound by injunctions: if non-parties violate injunctions, they are subject to conviction and punishment for contempt of court. The courts have jurisdiction to grant interim injunctions which all people, on pain of contempt, must obey. [Emphasis added; para. 31.]
See also Berryman, at pp. 57-60; Sharpe, at paras. 6.260 to 6.265.

[29] In other words, where a non-party violates a court order, there is a principled basis for treating the non-party as if it had been bound by the order. The non-party’s obligation arises “not because [it] is bound by the injunction by being a party to the cause, but because [it] is conducting [itself] so as to obstruct the course of justice” (MacMillan Bloedel, at para. 27, quoting Seaward v. Paterson, [1897] 1 Ch. 545 (C.A.), at p. 555).

[30] The pragmatism and necessity of such an approach was concisely explained by Fenlon J. in the case before us when she offered the following example:
. . . a non-party corporation that warehouses and ships goods for a defendant manufacturing company might be ordered on an interim injunction to freeze the defendants’ goods and refrain from shipping them. That injunction could affect orders received from customers around the world. Could it sensibly be argued that the Court could not grant the injunction because it would have effects worldwide? The impact of an injunction on strangers to the suit or the order itself is a valid consideration in deciding whether to exercise the Court’s jurisdiction to grant an injunction. It does not, however, affect the Court’s authority to make such an order.[2]
[31] Norwich orders are analogous and can also be used to compel non-parties to disclose information or documents in their possession required by a claimant (Norwich Pharmacal Co. v. Customs and Excise Commissioners, [1974] A.C. 133 (H.L.), at p. 175). Norwich orders have increasingly been used in the online context by plaintiffs who allege that they are being anonymously defamed or defrauded and seek orders against Internet service providers to disclose the identity of the perpetrator (York University v. Bell Canada Enterprises (2009), 2009 CanLII 46447 (ON SC), 311 D.L.R. (4th) 755 (Ont. S.C.J.)). Norwich disclosure may be ordered against non-parties who are not themselves guilty of wrongdoing, but who are so involved in the wrongful acts of others that they facilitate the harm. In Norwich, this was characterized as a duty to assist the person wronged (p. 175; Cartier International AG v. British Sky Broadcasting Ltd., [2017] 1 All E.R. 700 (C.A.), at para. 53). Norwich supplies a principled rationale for granting injunctions against non-parties who facilitate wrongdoing (see Cartier, at paras. 51-55; and Warner-Lambert Co. v. Actavis Group PTC EHF, 144 B.M.L.R. 194 (Ch.)).

[32] This approach was applied in Cartier, where the Court of Appeal of England and Wales held that injunctive relief could be awarded against five non-party Internet service providers who had not engaged in, and were not accused of any wrongful act. The Internet service providers were ordered to block the ability of their customers to access certain websites in order to avoid facilitating infringements of the plaintiff’s trademarks. (See also Jaani Riordan, The Liability of Internet Intermediaries (2016), at pp. 412 and 498-99.)

[33] The same logic underlies Mareva injunctions, which can also be issued against non-parties. Mareva injunctions are used to freeze assets in order to prevent their dissipation pending the conclusion of a trial or action (Mareva Compania Naviera S.A. v. International Bulkcarriers S.A., [1975] 2 Lloyd’s Rep. 509 (C.A.); Aetna Financial Services Ltd. v. Feigelman, 1985 CanLII 55 (SCC), [1985] 1 S.C.R. 2). A Mareva injunction that requires a defendant not to dissipate his or her assets sometimes requires the assistance of a non-party, which in turn can result in an injunction against the non-party if it is just and equitable to do so (Stephen Pitel and Andrew Valentine, “The Evolution of the Extra-territorial Mareva Injunction in Canada: Three Issues” (2006), 2 J. Priv. Int’l L. 339, at p. 370; Vaughan Black and Edward Babin, “Mareva Injunctions in Canada: Territorial Aspects” (1997), 28 Can. Bus. L.J. 430, at pp. 452-53; Berryman, at pp. 128-31). Banks and other financial institutions have, as a result, been bound by Mareva injunctions even when they are not a party to an underlying action.

[34] To preserve Equustek’s rights pending the outcome of the litigation, Tindale J.’s order of December 13, 2012 required Datalink to cease carrying on business through the Internet. Google had requested and participated in Equustek’s obtaining this order, and offered to comply with it voluntarily. It is common ground that Datalink was unable to carry on business in a commercially viable way unless its websites were in Google’s search results. In the absence of de-indexing these websites, as Fenlon J. specifically found, Google was facilitating Datalink’s breach of Tindale J.’s order by enabling it to continue carrying on business through the Internet. By the time Fenlon J. granted the injunction against Google, Google was aware that in not de-indexing Datalink’s websites, it was facilitating Datalink’s ongoing breach of Tindale J.’s order, the purpose of which was to prevent irreparable harm to Equustek.

[35] Much like a Norwich order or a Mareva injunction against a non-party, the interlocutory injunction in this case flows from the necessity of Google’s assistance in order to prevent the facilitation of Datalink’s ability to defy court orders and do irreparable harm to Equustek. Without the injunctive relief, it was clear that Google would continue to facilitate that ongoing harm.

[36] Google’s next argument is the impropriety of issuing an interlocutory injunction with extraterritorial effect. But this too contradicts the existing jurisprudence.

[37] The British Columbia courts in these proceedings concluded that because Google carried on business in the province through its advertising and search operations, this was sufficient to establish the existence of in personam and territorial jurisdiction. Google does not challenge those findings. It challenges instead the global reach of the resulting order. Google suggests that if any injunction is to be granted, it should be limited to Canada (or google.ca) alone.

[38] When a court has in personam jurisdiction, and where it is necessary to ensure the injunction’s effectiveness, it can grant an injunction enjoining that person’s conduct anywhere in the world. (See Impulsora Turistica de Occidente, S.A. de C.V. v. Transat Tours Canada Inc., 2007 SCC 20 (CanLII), [2007] 1 S.C.R. 867, at para. 6; Berryman, at p. 20; Pitel and Valentine, at p. 389; Sharpe, at para. 1.1190; Spry, at p. 37.) Mareva injunctions have been granted with worldwide effect when it was found to be necessary to ensure their effectiveness. (See Mooney v. Orr (1994), 98 B.C.L.R. (2d) 318 (S.C.); Berryman, at pp. 20 and 136; Babanaft International Co. S.A. v. Bassatne, [1990] 1 Ch. 13 (C.A.); Republic of Haiti v. Duvalier, [1990] 1 Q.B. 202 (C.A.); Derby & Co. v. Weldon, [1990] 1 Ch. 48 (C.A.); and Derby & Co. v. Weldon (Nos. 3 and 4), [1990] 1 Ch. 65 (C.A.); Sharpe, at paras. 1.1190 to 1.1220.)

[39] Groberman J.A. pointed to the international support for this approach:
I note that the courts of many other jurisdictions have found it necessary, in the context of orders against Internet abuses, to pronounce orders that have international effects. Several such cases are cited in the arguments of [International Federation of Film Producers Associations and International Federation of the Phonographic Industry], including APC v. Auchan Telecom, 11/60013, Judgment (28 November 2013) (Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris); McKeogh v. Doe (Irish High Court, case no. 20121254P); Mosley v. Google, 11/07970, Judgment (6 November 2013) (Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris); Max Mosley v. Google (see “Case Law, Hamburg District Court: Max Mosley v. Google Inc. online: Inform’s Blog https://inforrm.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/case-law-hamburg-district-court-max-mosley-v-google-inc-google-go-down-again-this-time-in-hamburg-dominic-crossley/) and ECJ Google Spain SL, Google Inc. v. Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, Mario Costeja González, C-131/12 [2014], CURIA.[3]
[40] Fenlon J. explained why Equustek’s request that the order have worldwide effect was necessary as follows:
The majority of GW1000 sales occur outside Canada. Thus, quite apart from the practical problem of endless website iterations, the option Google proposes is not equivalent to the order now sought which would compel Google to remove the [Datalink] websites from all search results generated by any of Google’s websites worldwide. I therefore conclude that [Equustek does] not have an out-of-court remedy available to [it].[4]


... to be effective, even within Canada, Google must block search results on all of its websites.[5]
As a result, to ensure that Google did not facilitate Datalink’s breach of court orders whose purposes were to prevent irreparable harm to Equustek, she concluded that the injunction had to have worldwide effect.

[41] I agree. The problem in this case is occurring online and globally. The Internet has no borders — its natural habitat is global. The only way to ensure that the interlocutory injunction attained its objective was to have it apply where Google operates — globally. As Fenlon J. found, the majority of Datalink’s sales take place outside Canada. If the injunction were restricted to Canada alone or to google.ca, as Google suggests it should have been, the remedy would be deprived of its intended ability to prevent irreparable harm. Purchasers outside Canada could easily continue purchasing from Datalink’s websites, and Canadian purchasers could easily find Datalink’s websites even if those websites were de-indexed on google.ca. Google would still be facilitating Datalink’s breach of the court’s order which had prohibited it from carrying on business on the Internet. There is no equity in ordering an interlocutory injunction which has no realistic prospect of preventing irreparable harm.

[42] The interlocutory injunction in this case is necessary to prevent the irreparable harm that flows from Datalink carrying on business on the Internet, a business which would be commercially impossible without Google’s facilitation. The order targets Datalink’s websites — the list of which has been updated as Datalink has sought to thwart the injunction — and prevents them from being displayed where they do the most harm: on Google’s global search results.

[43] Nor does the injunction’s worldwide effect tip the balance of convenience in Google’s favour. The order does not require that Google take any steps around the world, it requires it to take steps only where its search engine is controlled. This is something Google has acknowledged it can do — and does — with relative ease. There is therefore no harm to Google which can be placed on its “inconvenience” scale arising from the global reach of the order.

[44] Google’s argument that a global injunction violates international comity because it is possible that the order could not have been obtained in a foreign jurisdiction, or that to comply with it would result in Google violating the laws of that jurisdiction is, with respect, theoretical. As Fenlon J. noted, “Google acknowledges that most countries will likely recognize intellectual property rights and view the selling of pirated products as a legal wrong”.[6]

[45] And while it is always important to pay respectful attention to freedom of expression concerns, particularly when dealing with the core values of another country, I do not see freedom of expression issues being engaged in any way that tips the balance of convenience towards Google in this case. As Groberman J.A. concluded:
In the case before us, there is no realistic assertion that the judge’s order will offend the sensibilities of any other nation. It has not been suggested that the order prohibiting the defendants from advertising wares that violate the intellectual property rights of the plaintiffs offends the core values of any nation. The order made against Google is a very limited ancillary order designed to ensure that the plaintiffs’ core rights are respected.

.... the order in this case is an interlocutory one, and one that can be varied by the court. In the unlikely event that any jurisdiction finds the order offensive to its core values, an application could be made to the court to modify the order so as to avoid the problem.[7]
[46] If Google has evidence that complying with such an injunction would require it to violate the laws of another jurisdiction, including interfering with freedom of expression, it is always free to apply to the British Columbia courts to vary the interlocutory order accordingly. To date, Google has made no such application.

[47] In the absence of an evidentiary foundation, and given Google’s right to seek a rectifying order, it hardly seems equitable to deny Equustek the extraterritorial scope it needs to make the remedy effective, or even to put the onus on it to demonstrate, country by country, where such an order is legally permissible. We are dealing with the Internet after all, and the balance of convenience test has to take full account of its inevitable extraterritorial reach when injunctive relief is being sought against an entity like Google.

[48] This is not an order to remove speech that, on its face, engages freedom of expression values, it is an order to de-index websites that are in violation of several court orders. We have not, to date, accepted that freedom of expression requires the facilitation of the unlawful sale of goods.


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Last modified: 16-01-23
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