“The petitioners are the defendants in the longest running judicial saga in Quebec legal history. A trial that had occupied no less than eight years was aborted because of the trial judge’s illness and his inability to resume its conduct. At that stage, the plaintiffs’ evidence was complete and the petitioners had completed roughly one-half of their evidence.”
So begins Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Alan Hilton in a recent seven-page ruling that dismissed a motion seeking leave to appeal a judgment relating to the duration of the trial. The petitioners, Elliot C. Wightman et Al, sought to extend the 120-day limit to present evidence during the trial.
In a ruling worth reading, if only because it reveals the Court’s views on case management, in English no less, Judge Hilton points out that that “ultimately, however, it belongs to the court concerned to determine, at the outset, how much of the court’s time the parties will be provided to complete their case, whatever request the parties have made, and however complex or important that case may be.”
He adds: “This is an essential feature of case management, without which administrative chaos would ensue to the detriment of all concerned, and in particular to other litigants who are waiting in line to have their own cases heard. The Superior Court is not the private reserve of anyone to use as they wish, but a public institution to which access must be available to all on an equal basis.”
For a comprehensive examination of the stakes at the trial of a scandal that preceded Enron et al, here is what I wrote: