Quebec’s Administrative Labour Tribunal (ALT) recently ruled1 that the “reasonable time” within which to make an application for review or revocation, provided for in Section 50 of the Act to establish the Administrative Labour Tribunal (AEALT), is 30 days after the decision concerned or after the discovery of a new fact that could warrant a different decision. This time limit will now apply to all divisions of the ALT, including the occupational health and safety division.
Upon the coming into force of the AEALT on January 1, 2016, the ALT assumed jurisdiction over all matters previously handled by Quebec’s Commission des relations du travail (CRT) and the Commission des lésions professionnelles (CLP).
According to Section 50 of the AEALT, an application for review or revocation must be filed with the ALT within a reasonable time after the decision concerned or after the discovery of a new fact that could warrant a different decision.
The concept of reasonable time was previously found in Section 429.57 of the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases (AIAOD) with respect to CLP decisions, and Section 128 of the Labour Code with respect to CRT decisions. The CLP’s case law defined a reasonable time as 45 days, equating the “reasonable time” found in Section 429.57 of the AIAOD with the amount of time to contest a decision before the CLP, namely 45 days after being notified of the decision. In contrast, the CRT’s case law defined “reasonable time” as 30 days “based, among other things, on the exceptional nature of proceedings for review, the fact that labour law proceedings included very short time limits, and the need to provide the parties involved with a degree of security when a decision is rendered.”2
The ALT determined that the concept of a reasonable time in Section 50 of the AEALT cannot be interpreted differently for each division to which an application for review or revocation is made. In other words, the time limit cannot be 45 days for applications before the occupational health and safety division (formerly the CLP) and 30 days for other divisions.
After reviewing the case law, the ALT determined a reasonable time in Section 50 of the AEALT was 30 days from notification of the decision for which review or revocation is sought. The ALT’s decision was based, among other things, on the tendency of the courts to equate a reasonable time for judicial review with the 30-day period provided to lodge an appeal with the Court of Appeal. The ALT also found that “the courts determined the reasonable time for contesting a decision by taking into account the extraordinary nature of the proceedings, not just the time limit for contesting the original decision.”3 The ALT also noted that the second paragraph of Section 50 of the AEALT states that the other parties may respond in writing to the application for review or revocation within 30 days of receiving it. Lastly, the ALT took into consideration the CRT’s previously mentioned criteria in establishing 30 days as a reasonable time.
In this instance, the reasonable time period of 30 days had not been observed. However, the administrative judge allowed the application for review pursuant to Section 15 of the AEALT. That section allows the ALT to extend a time limit or relieve a person of the consequences of failing to act within the allotted time if it is shown that the person could not reasonably have acted within that time and if, in the Tribunal’s opinion, no other party suffers serious harm as a result. In the case at issue, the ALT found that the applicant had a right to expect that the 45-day time limit would apply given the unanimous CLP case law that had been in effect at the time.
This decision standardizes and clarifies the concept of reasonable time provided for in Section 50 of the AEALT. Henceforth, for all divisions of the ALT – occupational health and safety, labour relations, essential services, or construction and professional qualification – the reasonable time for filing an application for review or revocation is now 30 days.
1. Côté et Location Lou-X, 2016 QCTAT 3778.
2. Ibid at para 17 [our translation].
3. Ibid at para 32 [our translation].