On February 7, 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the plaintiffs’ appeals in the Schnarr v. Blue Mountain case and the companion case Woodhouse v. Snow Valley.
In both cases, motion court judges held that the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) defeated waivers authorized by the Occupiers’ Liability Act (OLA). In the Woodhouse case, the motion judge held that there may be some power under s.93(2) of the CPA to hold the consumer to the contract. The Court of Appeal in a unanimous decision reversed the lower court rulings and held that the two statutes were in clear conflict and concluded that the more specific provisions of the OLA prevailed over the general provisions in the CPA. It also rejected the CPA s.93(2) argument.
“The Supreme Court of Canada has in effect upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal, which affirmed that waivers under the Occupiers’ Liability Act are not defeated by the Consumer Protection Act. In short, such waivers are alive and well, subject to certain limitations,” said litigation partner John A. Olah who, together with litigation partner Robert A. Betts, acted as co-counsel for Blue Mountain Resorts. “This decision will now put new vitality into our waiver arguments, not just in Ontario, but it will help cases in British Columbia and other provinces,” added Olah.
The Supreme Court of Canada’s brief judgment can be found here.
Further background on the case can be found in our April 16, 2018 article: Ontario Court of Appeal rules waivers still effective in Ontario’s recreational sporting industry