Summary

37273

Judicial Committee of the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses (Vaughn Lee - Chairman and Elders James Scott Lang and Joe Gurney) and Highwood Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses v. Randy Wall

(Alberta) (Civil) (By Leave)

Keywords

Canadian charter (Non-criminal) - Freedom of association, Courts, Jurisdiction, Judicial review.

Summary

Case summaries are prepared by the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada (Law Branch). Please note that summaries are not provided to the Judges of the Court. They are placed on the Court file and website for information purposes only.

Charter of Rights and Freedoms – Religious freedom – Freedom of Association – Courts – Jurisdiction – Judicial review – How do the fundamental freedoms of religion and association protect membership decisions of religious communities and other voluntary associations from state and judicial interference – What are the boundaries between what is and is not justiciable with regard to membership and other disputes between members of voluntary associations – Whether the public law remedy of judicial review applies to membership decisions made by voluntary associations such as religious communities?

Mr. Wall was a member of the Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, an unincorporated religious association. He was disfellowshipped by a Judicial Committee of elders because he was not sufficiently repentant for two incidents of drunkenness, one of which included verbal abuse of his wife. This required Jehovah’s Witnesses, including his wife and children, to shun him. He is a real estate agent and lost congregation members and other Jehovah’s Witnesses as clients. He appealed to an Appeal Committee which upheld the disfellowship decision. The Watch Tower and Bible Tract Society of Canada decided not to overturn the decision. Mr. Wall applied for judicial review. Wilson J. conducted a hearing to determine whether the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta had jurisdiction to hear the application.