Too Late, Too Bad – Statutory Appeal Timelines Matter

By Travis D. Payne & Liam J. Hynes

The recent Newfoundland & Labrador Supreme Court decision in YBC Development Limited v. Town of Torbay has affirmed the position that statutory appeal timelines are not suggestions but definitive deadlines. In this case, the developer filed their appeal of a decision from the Eastern Newfoundland Regional Appeal Board to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador one day after the ten-day time limit provided in section 46.1(1) of the Urban and Rural Planning Act, 2000. Consequently, the appeal was struck for being filed outside the statutory appeal period.

In this case, Justice Handrigan looked to prior case law in Newfoundland & Labrador with respect to statutory appeal timelines and stated the following principles:

  1. Statutory appeals must be brought strictly in accordance with the terms of the enabling statute.
  2. In particular, appeals must be brought within the times limited by statute.
  3. Absent a statutory power in the Court to extend the time, none exists.
  4. Provisions in the Rules of the Supreme Court, 1986 purporting to allow the Court to extend the time, do not apply if the enabling statute does not engage the Rules.
  5. If an appeal is not brought within an appeal period, the Court lacks jurisdiction to hear it.
  6. Statutory rights of appeal are governed by the legislation that creates them.
  7. If the Rules of Court and statutes clash over the procedure on civil appeals, the statutes prevail.

The case highlighted that the Court cannot alter statutory appeal periods. The extension provisions that the Court has under its own Rules do not apply to prescribed statutory appeals. The appeal periods are strict and unforgiving.

The principles affirmed in this case highlight the importance of acting quickly when determining if you will appeal a decision of an administrative body. Often the timelines provided by statute are very short – being days not weeks or months. While this case demonstrates the importance of filing appeals expeditiously in municipal development decisions, the principle applies to various other statutory appeals, including appeals from decisions of:

  • municipal tax assessment commissioners;
  • municipalities with respect to councillor conflict of interest or code of conducts complaints;
  • various professional disciplinary tribunals;
  • the Residential Tenancies Tribunal; and,
  • a public body or a commissioner with respect access to information.

If you are dissatisfied with a decision from any administrative tribunal or public body we advise to err on the side of caution and contact a lawyer immediately. Speaking with your lawyer sooner rather than later will eliminate these risks by ensuring you have ample time in considering your options in filing an appeal.

Curtis Dawe frequently represents administrative decision makers, parties who appear before administrative boards, and parties who seek to bring challenges to the resulting administrative decisions. In particular, Curtis Dawe has experienced lawyers in the fields of professional discipline and municipal law, which this decision directly applies to. To speak to a member of Curtis Dawe’s administrative law team, contact 709-722-5181 or


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