Facts: In April of 2015 oil allegedly spilled from the ship “Marathassa” while at anchor in English Bay, Vancouver. An Information was subsequently sworn laying charges under various statutes against the “Marathassa” and against the applicant, her manager. A summons to appear was purportedly served on the applicant by personal service on the Master of the “Afroessa”, another ship managed by the applicant. At a hearing before the Justice of the Peace, the Crown advised the Court that the applicant had been served with the summons. The presiding Justice of the Peace confirmed the service and adjourned the matter to a future date. The applicant did not formally appear at that hearing to contest the service as such an appearance would have been an attornment to the Court’s jurisdiction. Subsequent to the hearing, the applicant brought this application before the Supreme Court of British Columbia for an order of certiorari quashing the order of the Justice of the Peace and for an order of prohibition prohibiting the Provincial Court from proceeding with the charges against the applicant until it had been properly served.
Decision: The application is dismissed.
Held: The applicant has it head office in Athens, Greece and it is common ground that service outside Canada would not be effective. It is further common ground that the applicant could not appear before the Provincial Court to contest service without attorning to the court’s jurisdiction. It is also clear that the applicant can contest service by seeking the orders it does. However, certiorari is a remedy limited to cases where the tribunal has acted in excess of its statutory jurisdiction or in breach of the principles of natural justice. Certiorari is not available for mere errors of law. Similarly, an order of prohibition is also confined to jurisdictional errors. The applicant’s arguments that service on the Master of “Afroessa” was not service on the applicant relate to the merits of the decision of the Justice of the Peace and not to jurisdiction. The application therefore fails.
Comment: This decision was overturned on appeal (2018 BCCA 92). The appeal decision has not yet been summarized.