On Wednesday May 16, 2018, Mr. Fiske and Mr. Milosevic will appear before the Supreme Court of Canada to represent the appellant, Kassem Mazraani, in the case of Mazraani v. Industrial Alliance et. al. The case arises from a dispute that originated in the Federal Tax Court in 2015.
The case raises the following issues that are related to section 15(1),(2), and (3) of the Official Languages Act R.S.C., 1985, c. 31 (4th Supp.):
- Does a Federal Court Judge have a positive duty to adjourn a trial for the retention of an interpreter the moment a witness or counsel expresses some unease while testifying or presenting in their second official language?
- Is there any role for counsel to play in terms of assisting a Federal Court Judge with respect to what languages their witnesses will testify in and whether or not interpreters are required?
- Does the fact that one party is self-represented create any sort of additional obligation as to how a Federal Court Judge and/or counsel can assist with respect to determining in advance of trial what languages the witnesses will testify in?
The decision will provide guidance with respect to what obligations both a Trial Judge and Counsel have to inform parties and witnesses that they have the right to testify in either English or French in Federal Courts. English and French are the official languages of Canada and have equal status. Further, the decision will also provide guidance with respect to clarifying the required procedure in order to ensure that language rights are met.
Given the significant nature of the appeal, a number of interested parties have intervened including: the Barreau du Québec, the L’Association Des Juristes D’Expression Française De L’Ontario, the Commissioner of Official Languages for Canada, and the Canadian Bar Association. The materials of the interveners, as well as the parties can be found here.
The oral argument will be streamlined live and the case is expected to be heard at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday May 16, 2018.