Noel Ayangma's failed legal attempts cost him over $30,000

Ayangma to pay after failing to have human rights cases reviewed

Ryan Ross rross@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on July 31, 2014
Noel Ayangma
Submitted photo

An Island man will have to pay more than $30,000 in costs after losing three attempts to have failed human rights complaints reviewed.

In a recent P.E.I. Supreme Court decision, Justice Nancy Key ordered $14,500 in costs after she dismissed Noel Ayangma’s application for judicial review of a July 2013 P.E.I. Human Rights Commission ruling.

Ayangma, who is originally from Cameroon, alleged the French Language School Board discriminated against him when he applied for the position of director general.

It was not Ayangma’s first claim of discrimination by the board and in 2012 he signed a release that settled several litigation files in exchange for $370,000. Because of that settlement, the Human Rights Commission ruled it had no jurisdiction to deal with the allegation related to the director general position.

Ayangma then asked for a judicial review to have the issue sent back for the commission to deal with.

Key agreed with the Human Rights Commission’s decision that the complaint wasn’t a new matter and was covered by the terms of the release.

She awarded the board $14,500 in partial costs.

Ayangma also recently had an appeal from the dismissal of a judicial review of a Human Rights Commission decision over a complaint the Public Service Alliance of Canada discriminated against him.

The complaint arose after Ayangma applied for six jobs, but PSAC chose not to hire him for any of them and when the Human Rights Commission investigated it found the complaint had no merit.

In the appeal court decision, the three judges upheld a lower court decision not to order a judicial review.

When it came to costs on that complaint appeal, Chief Justice David Jenkins wrote that PSAC’s claim of 36 hours at $140 per hour seemed more than reasonable. That was on top of $8,500 a supreme court judge ordered in costs for the initial judicial review application.

But in granting costs, Jenkins went further, saying lawyers have an ethical duty and obligation to raise ethically valid arguments for their clients, which can sometimes mean making suggestions that could be defamatory outside the court.

Jenkins said that privilege comes with great responsibility and while Ayangma is not a lawyer he has appeared in court more times in the past several years than most lawyers and is not exempt from the rule.

In this case, Ayangma alleged PSAC altered the record, which Jenkins said was a baseless allegation of criminal wrongdoing with nothing to support it.

Jenkins said the appeal judges would allow higher costs to PSAC as a way to express the court’s disapproval of such tactics and to deter lawyers and litigants from abusing their privilege by making “reckless allegations.”

Ayangma will have to pay PSAC $7,750 in costs.

In another case that was before the P.E.I. Court of Appeal, Ayangma also recently lost an appeal for a judicial review of a human rights decision related to a discrimination complaint against Canada Health Infoway.

Ayangma alleged the company discriminated against him when it didn’t hire him for a senior position. The complaint went to a hearing where a panel determined Canada Health Infoway didn’t discriminate against Ayangma.

He sought a judicial review of that decision, but a lower court judge dismissed his application.

In a unanimous decision, Chief Justice David Jenkins wrote the appeal decision in which he said the supreme court judge was correct in dismissing the application for judicial review.

Canada Health Infoway withdrew its request for costs and none were ordered.