Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Students may reasonably rely on academic calendars

Ramdath v. George Brown College of Applied Arts and Technology, 2013 ONCA 468 holds that students may reasonably rely on representations in an academic calendar.  Such is significant because often such calendars have statements related to formal designation and qualification – errors may be actionable:


[5]          First, the appellant argues that the trial judge erred in finding that it owed a duty of care to its students. In the appellant's submission, a special relationship giving rise to a duty of care would only be created if the respondents acted reasonably in relying on the program description. The respondents could have obtained all of the relevant information from the various industry association websites. Had they done so, they would have known what was required in order to receive the designations. Further, no special relationship was created, in the appellant's submission, because the respondents' interpretation of the program description was unreasonable. The trial judge found that students reading the program description would reasonably expect to have to write an examination and pay a fee in order to obtain the industry designations. The evidence of the representative plaintiffs, however, was that they neither expected to write the examinations or pay any fees, nor would they be prepared to do so if that were a requirement. In addition, the appellant notes that the vast majority of the class members took no steps to obtain the designations. As a result, the appellant argues that the test for reasonable reliance was not made out.


[6]          We disagree. As confirmed in Olar v. Laurentian University (2007), 49 C.C.L.T. (3d) 257 (Ont. S.C.), at paras. 70-71, aff'd 2008 ONCA 699, it is reasonable for students to rely on statements contained in course calendars, because these calendars are published with the intention that students read them and rely on the information contained therein in order to decide which academic program to pursue. We see no error in the trial judge's conclusion that a special relationship existed between the appellant and the respondent class members.

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