The Federal Court has now applied the Vavilov standard of review analysis to a decision of the RPD in Garcia v. MCI 2020 FC 16. The good news is that the Court confirmed that the Supreme Court in Vavilov extinguished the notion that there could be a “range” of possible reasonable conclusions open to a decision maker. That range was often relied on by the Court to indulge in limited judicial interference of even the most non-sensical decision making. So, with the range idea gone, only one reasonable answer remains. So far, so good.
The next step is to decide what that one reasonable answer will be. To decide this issue, the Court will consider whether the decision is rationale, logical and justified in light of the legal and factual constraints that bear on the decision. The Court has to be able to trace the decision maker’s reasoning without encountering any fatal flaws in its overarching logic, and following a line of analysis that reasonably lead the tribunal from the evidence before it, to the conclusion. Importantly, the decision must be justifiable and justified – that means that the conclusion is not enough. The process leading to the conclusion must make sense in light of the particular legal and factual constraints. In assessing the factual constraints, an Applicant must demonstrate “exceptional circumstances” to allow a court to interfere. Examples of these circumstances include ignoring evidence, a flaw in the logic leading to the factual finding, a fundamental misapprehension of the evidence or, a finding contrary to the overwhelming weight of evidence. However, the Court does recognize the advantage enjoyed by the decision maker who heard the viva voce evidence for questions of credibility.
Applying these principles, the Court upheld the decision of the RPD which was primarily a credibility finding.