JL v Greater Essex County District School Board, 2019 HRTO 511

J.L. filed an HRTO application alleging discrimination in services because of disability contrary to the Code. J.L.’s parents objected to the School Board’s decision to place J.L. in a multiple exceptionality classroom for the 2010-2011 school year because they believed that a placement focused on J.L’s autism disorder would better accommodate his learning needs at the school. J.L. however, remained placed in the classroom throughout high school until graduating in 2015.

The School Board and J.L. entered into negotiations to settle the HRTO application. After some back and forth discussions and correspondence between the parties on the terms of the agreement, including the preparation of draft written minutes of settlement, the School Board took the position that there was a binding agreement and filed a request at the HRTO for an order that the HRTO application had been settled.

J.L. argued there was no settlement because there was no agreement on all essential terms to the agreement, namely, that the parties did not reach agreement on the amount of monetary compensation, the inclusion of a non-disparagement clause; the language of the release and that J.L.’s counsel did not have authority to bind J.L.

The School Board argued that all the requirements for a binding settlement set out in the leading case of Apotex Inc. v. Allegan, Inc., 2016 FCA 155 were met, namely, that there was a mutual intention to create legal relations; there was consideration flowing in return for a promise; the terms of the agreement were sufficiently certain; there was matching offer and acceptance on all terms essential to the agreement; and all other requirements, such as legislative requirements, were satisfied.

The Tribunal found:

  • that the parties did not reach a binding settlement;
  • that, not all settlements of human rights applications included a monetary component, when monetary compensation is involved, the amount of that compensation is an essential term of settlement;
  • that there was no agreement on the amount of monetary compensation; and
  • that J.L’s. counsel was clear that she did not have authority to reach a final settlement without first obtaining instructions from J.L., including that she did not have instructions regarding the amount of monetary compensation.

The Tribunal ordered:

  • that the School Board’s request for an order that the HRTO application had been settled is denied.

To read the full decision, visit Canlii.