Decision Date: September 17, 2012
Panel: Alan Andison
Keywords: Oil and Gas Activities Act – s. 72(7); Administrative Tribunals Act – s. 24(2); preliminary application; extension of time; special circumstances
Willis Shore applied to for an extension of time to file an appeal against a permit issued by the Oil and Gas Commission (the “Commission”). The permit was issued to Murphy Oil Company Ltd. (“Murphy Oil”), and authorized Murphy Oil to construct and operate a pipeline on land that is owned by Mr. Shore. The appeal was filed on August 17, 2012, ten days after the expiry of the 15-day appeal period that applies to landowners under section 72(7) of the Oil and Gas Activities Act.
Under section 24(2) of the Administrative Tribunals Act, the Tribunal has the authority to extend the time to file an appeal, even if the time limit has expired, if satisfied that special circumstances exist. Mr. Shore submitted that an extension of time should be granted because special circumstances existed in this case. Specifically, he argued that he had instructed his legal counsel to appeal the permit on August 7, 2012, but there was either a misunderstanding or a miscommunication, and Mr. Shore’s legal counsel thought he was referring to ongoing proceedings before the Surface Rights Board, a separate administrative tribunal with a different mandate. During a telephone conversation on August 15, 2012, Mr. Shore’s legal counsel realized that Mr. Shore’s August 7, 2012 instructions were regarding an appeal to the Tribunal. Mr. Shore’s legal counsel filed the appeal on August 17, 2012, after Mr. Shore sent supporting documents.
The Commission took no position on whether the application should be granted.
Murphy Oil opposed the application. It argued that granting the application would cause it to suffer prejudice.
The Tribunal found that, if the appeal had been filed on August 7, 2012, as requested by Mr. Shore, the appeal would have been filed in time. Once Mr. Shore’s legal counsel realized that there had been a misunderstanding or miscommunication in receiving instructions from Mr. Shore, he filed the appeal within two days. The Tribunal noted that, if the application was an extension was denied, Mr. Shore would lose his right, as an owner of land on which oil and gas activity was permitted, as a result of a miscommunication or misunderstanding with his legal counsel. That would be so despite the fact that Mr. Shore was actively engaged in the consultation process before the permit was issued, and he has diligent and timely in requesting that his legal counsel file an appeal of the permit. Conversely, there was no evidence that granting the extension would result in any prejudice to Murphy Oil, and if there was any prejudice it would be minor given the relatively short 10-day delay in filing the appeal. Consequently, the Tribunal concluded that there were special circumstances in this case that justified granting an extension of time.
Accordingly, the application for an extension of time to file the appeal was granted.