The Provincial Planning Board directed that lands belonging to a developer be rezoned from agricultural to "general urban". The decision was appealed by a group that felt the area was unsuitable for residential housing due to odours released by nearby industry. The succeeded on the ground that they had not been given an opportunity to test all the evidence by cross-examination. The developer appealed to the Appeal Division.
- Were the respondents denied natural justice by not being permitted to cross-examine the authors of the reports?
Johnson, writing for the court, held that a person appearing before quasi-judicial bodies is entitled to be heard and to present his case, and when this is not permitted there is a denial of natural justice. In the process of presenting his own case he is entitled to weaken and destroy the case that is made against him, often effectively done by cross-examination. A party is often able to advance his own case from the mouths of his opponent's witnesses. It does not follow that the refusal of or the placing of limitations upon the right of cross-examination will always require that the court quash an order made in proceedings in which these restrictions are enforced. If he is afforded an equally effective method of answering the case made against him, in other words is given "a fair opportunity to correct or controvert any relevant statement brought forward to his prejudice" (to quote the words used above) the requirements of natural justice will be met.
Turning to the reports at issue, he concluded that the respondents had been provided with an opportunity to correct or contradict the contents of the report by being invited to present written answers. The written answers as provided clearly showed there had been no prejudice.
- Parties before quasi-judicial bodies have a right to be heard and to present their case, as well as to weaken and destroy the opposing case.
- Cross-examination is but one way in which a party can be given an opportunity to correct or contradict the opposing evidence; if a reasonable opportunity is given, there will have been no violation of natural justice.