Angus v. Sun Alliance Insurance Co.

[1988] S.C.J. No. 75



"A provision is substantive or procedural for the purposes of retrospective application not according to whether or not it is based upon a legal fiction, but according to whether or not it affects substantive rights. P.-A. Cote, in The Interpretation of Legislation in Canada (1984), has this to say at p. 137: In dealing with questions of temporal application of statutes, the term "procedural" has an important connotation: to determine if the provision will be applied immediately [i.e. to pending cases], "... the question to be considered is not simply whether the enactment is one affecting procedure but whether it affects procedure only and does not affect substantial rights of the parties." [Quoting De Roussy v. Nesbitt (1920), 53 D.L.R. 514, 516.] ... Normally, rules of procedure do not affect the content or existence of an action or defence (or right, obligation, or whatever else is the subject of the legislation), but only the manner of its enforcement or use. P. St. J. Langan, Maxwell on Statutory Interpretation (12th ed. 1969), at p. 222, puts the matter this way: The presumption against retrospective construction has no application to enactments which affect only the procedure and practice of the courts. No person has a vested right in any course of procedure, but only the right of prosecution or defence in the manner prescribed for the time being, by or for the court in which he sues, and if an Act of Parliament alters that mode of procedure, he can only proceed according to that altered mode. Alteration of a "mode" of procedure in the conduct of a defence is a very different thing from the removal of the defence entirely. The latter is in essence an interference with a vested right." Angus v. Sun Alliance, supra, at para. 19, 21.