Monday, September 24, 2012


St-Jules v. St-Jules, 2012 NSCA 97 is a useful source for the principle that adjournments are peculiarly within the purview of judges at first instance:
[28] As set out by Saunders, J.A., in Sharpe v. Abbott, 2007 NSCA 6 (CanLII), 2007 NSCA 6, this Court gives deference to a trial judges decision whether to grant or deny an adjournment:
[74] ...A trial judge’s right to supervise and control the trial process includes a wide discretion to grant or refuse adjournments. The exercise of that discretion is owed considerable deference on appeal unless it can be shown that the judge erred in principle, or that the judge did not exercise his or her discretion judicially. Webber v. Canada Permanent Trust Co. (1976), 18 N.S.R. (2d) 631 (A.D.), and Moore v. Economical Mutual Insurance Co. and Long, [1999] N.S.J. No. 250 [N.S.C.A.].
In Moore, cited in the passage from Abbot, Justice Cromwell said:
33 The decision to grant or refuse an adjournment is within the discretion of the presiding judge. It is a discretion which the judge is particularly well placed to exercise. An appellate court should not substitute its judgment for that of the presiding judge but should limit its review to determining whether the judge applied a wrong principle or the decision gave rise to an injustice.
[29] I am satisfied the judge did not err in refusing to adjourn the hearing, one week before it was scheduled to take place, to allow further time for the father to reapply for legal aid. He was aware of the hearing date seven months in advance, yet waited until less than three months before the scheduled hearing to apply for a legal aid lawyer. When he did, his application was refused because his income was too high. As the judge explained during the adjournment hearing, the additional pension information he wanted to provide to Nova Scotia Legal Aid had an adjournment been granted, would not have changed their position as his income would have been even higher. If he wanted to retain private counsel, he had seven months to do so. If he suffered any prejudice from her refusal to adjourn, it was of his own making.
[30] The mother and the children, on the other hand, would have been prejudiced by the adjournment. It would have extended the time for the father to ignore his child support obligations. The mother would have continued to receive calls she considered harassing from the unpaid creditors.

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