Case: Campbell v. The Bloom Group, 2023 BCCA 84 (CanLII)

Keywords: procedural fairness; adjournment request; landlord and tenant dispute


The Appellant receives a “Notice to End Tenancy” from her landlord, delivered after numerous documented complaints from other tenants reporting verbal abuse and discriminatory behaviour. (See para. 1).

The Appellant applies to the Residential Tenancy Branch to cancel the Notice. The hearing takes place by teleconference. The Appellant seeks an adjournment on numerous bases, including that she has a hearing impairment which affects her ability to communicate by telephone. The Arbitrator does not grant the adjournment, finding the Appellant is able to fully participate in the hearing. Importantly, in the course of making adverse credibility findings against her, the Arbitrator expresses skepticism about whether her request was genuine, or merely a delay tactic.

The Appellant appeals an order dismissing her petition for judicial review of the Arbitrator’s decision. (See Campbell v. Residential Tenancy Branch, 2022 BCSC 1733 (CanLII)). The Court of Appeal (Newbury, Hunter, and Voith, JJ.A.) dismisses the appeal.


The Appellant argued that the adjournment request played a “crucial role” in the Arbitrator’s assessment of her credibility. The key question before the Court of Appeal was whether that resulted in an unreasonable or procedural unfair decision. In this case, the Court of Appeal determined:

    • “judges and other adjudicators should…be cautious about allowing an adverse credibility finding to be influenced by a request for a disability-related accommodation”; and
    • “there was no need for the arbitrator to express skepticism” about the Appellant’s hearing impairment. (See paras. 52 and 54).

However, despite this, the Court of Appeal found the Arbitrator had not “acted unfairly”. (See para. 51). The Court of Appeal found no merit to the Appellant’s grounds of appeal. (See paras. 45, 57).

Notwithstanding the Court of Appeal’s conclusion, the decision provides practical guidance to decision-makers in future matters. The Court of Appeal included the following useful quotation from Justice Sharma in Kim v. Khaw, 2014 BCSC 2221 at para. 114:

The comfort of one’s native language, even when English is understood, is surely a factor for many witnesses who testify via an interpreter. That comfort would be seriously eroded if, without reasonable justification, a court were to take into account a witness’ preference for interpretation when weighing their evidence or assessing their credibility. It is my view that the use of an interpreter, on its own, is irrelevant to the issue of credibility. To find otherwise could unfairly prejudice participants in the trial process who used interpreters and could undermine public confidence in the trial process. In my view, there must be some evidence, or a reasonable inference that can be drawn from evidence, that the witness’ use of the interpreter was not necessary for them to fairly participate in the trial, but rather was a deliberate intent to gain some advantage.

The Court of Appeal expressed agreement with these comments, noting that “decision-makers should be wary about impugning, or appearing to impugn, the credibility of the person on the basis of the accommodation sought.” (See para. 56). Also of note, the Court of Appeal referred to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. R.D.S., 1997 CanLII 324 (SCC), in which the Supreme Court of Canada expressed a similar point – that it is “obviously preferable for a judge to avoid making any comment that might suggest that the determination of credibility is based on generalizations”. (See para. 52).

Counsel for the Appellant: Nathan Muirhead (Hakemi & Ridgedale LLP, Vancouver) and Jennifer Gray (Bronson Jones Gray & Company LLP, Vancouver)

Counsel for the Respondents: Alison Colpitts and Brendan Morley (Clark Wilson LLP, Vancouver)

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