Lukacs – Supreme Court of Canada


On 4 October 2017, PILC lawyers Byron Williams and Joëlle Pastora Sala appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”), along with pro bono counsel Alyssa Mariani of Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP (“TDS”), on behalf of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (“CCD”) in the matter of Delta Airlines Inc. v Gábor Lukács, Sacha Paul of TDS was also an integral part of the team who worked on this case.

At issue in the proceeding was the appropriate criteria for deciding whether to hear complaints before administrative bodies such as the Canadian Transportation Agency (“the Agency”). The CCD took the position that the ability for individuals and groups to participate before the Ageny ought to be driven by the seriousness of the issue they raise, not their particularly identity or interest. It also argued that the protection offered by the Agency and other administrative bodies such as the Agency should be no less than the protection offered by the Canadian Human Rights Act.

The CCD intervention made a material difference in the dialogue before the Court. While the human rights context of the case had been largely neglected before the Court of Appeal, the CCD intervention squarely raised the relationship between the Canada Transportation Act and the Canadian Human Rights Act and triggered a more considered discussion of the role of the human rights by the Agency in its factum.

The CCD’s argued that the Agency’s discretion in identifying which complaints can be heard must be consistent with the remedial purpose of the Act and reduce rather than perpetuate barriers to access to justice. The arguments are of particular importance to the CCD and to persons with disabilities because it may affect their efforts to effect remedial change to the transportation system in a timely and cost effective manner.