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HL v. Canada (Attorney General)

2005 SCC 25 (2005)

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HL v. Canada (Attorney General)

Supreme Court of Canada

2005 SCC 25 (2005)

Facts

HL (plaintiff) brought an action against the Government of Canada (defendant) and a Canadian federal employee who allegedly sexually abused HL when HL was 14 years old. At trial, HL presented evidence that HL had been unable to stay meaningfully employed due to alcoholism, emotional difficulties, and criminal behavior that were all attributable to the sexual abuse. The trial judge awarded HL nonpecuniary damages, pecuniary damages for lost past and future earnings, and prejudgment interest. Even though there was no specific evidence relating to HL’s lost-future-earnings claim, the trial judge used the evidence of HL’s past earnings to estimate HL’s future earnings. On appeal, the appellate court disagreed with some of the trial judge’s factual findings and held that the evidence was insufficient to support the pecuniary-damages award. The court thus set aside the award. HL appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. One issue on appeal was the applicable appellate standard of review for a trial court’s findings of fact.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Fish, J.)

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