• Leslie Clifford Loring v. Deputy Director of Wildlife

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    Decision Date: November 29, 2005

    Panel: Robert Wickett

    Keywords: Wildlife Act – ss. 24(2), 24(5); hunting licence; angling licence; cancellation; Lord Coke’s Rule; excessive delay; prejudice; period of ineligibility.

    Leslie Loring appealed the decision of the Deputy Director of Wildlife (the “Deputy Director”) to cancel Mr. Loring’s hunting and angling licences and to declare him ineligible to obtain a hunting or angling licence for 25 years.  Mr. Loring sought to have the period of ineligibility reduced.  At the hearing, the Deputy Director advised that the 25-year period of hunting ineligibility should be cumulative, commencing from the date of his conviction in Provincial Court on January 26, 2001.  The Deputy Director also conceded that the 25-year period of ineligibility for an angling licence should be reduced to 15 years.

    In 2001, Mr. Loring was convicted in Provincial Court of 27 violations of the Wildlife Act and two violations of the Waste Management Act.  He also pled guilty to two counts of breach of the Federal Fisheries Act.

    Mr. Loring submitted that: the Deputy Director made a number of errors in his findings of fact; that the Deputy Director erred in considering a previous period of ineligibility, in violation of Lord Coke’s Rule; that the period of ineligibility was not proportional to the period of ineligibility imposed upon other persons involved in similar contraventions; and, that the period of ineligibility for angling is excessive since the majority of Mr. Loring’s convictions were for offences unrelated to fishing.

    The Deputy Director testified that, in making his decision, he had considered offences for which Mr. Loring had neither been convicted nor charged because the Appellant had in fact committed those offences.  Further, the Deputy Director stated that he was aware that Mr. Loring had convictions, as well as a period of ineligibility arising out of the Wildlife Act, and that he took them into account as an aggravating factor when imposing the period of ineligibility on Mr. Loring in the present case.  The Director took this latter action irrespective of the fact that the offences at issue in this case occurred before the Appellant received his licence suspension and period of ineligibility for those earlier offences, and therefore acted against the principle set out in Lord Coke’s Rule.

    The Board accepted that Lord Coke’s Rule applies to administrative proceedings, but distinguished its application to this case by the fact that the Board exercises de novo jurisdiction, i.e., the focus is not upon errors made by the Deputy Director but rather upon an appropriate period of ineligibility.  Based on the evidence before it, the Board concluded that protection of the wildlife resource required the imposition of a 25-year period of hunting ineligibility commencing, as the Deputy Director recommended, on the date of his conviction, January 26, 2001.

    At the same time, the Board concluded that it is not appropriate to impose a 25-year period of ineligibility to angle.  The Board took into account previous decisions involving similar circumstances, and concluded that the appropriate period of ineligibility for Mr. Loring to obtain an angling licence is a period of five years, commencing on March 18, 2005.

    Mr. Loring also submitted that a more than four-year delay by the Deputy Director in rendering his decision is excessive and ought to result in a reduction in the period of ineligibility.  The Deputy Director had no explanation for the first year of delay.  However, he submitted that the latter three years of delay was due to a change in government at the provincial level.  Such change, the Deputy Director asserted, resulted in staff reduction at the Wildlife Branch, which led to staff placing less priority on disciplinary decisions with respect to licence action issues.

    The Board concluded that the delay, although inordinate, was explained by the circumstances arising out of a change in government, and because there was no evidence of prejudice to Mr. Loring arising out of that delay, he was not entitled to a remedy.

    Accordingly, the appeal was allowed in part.