NunatuKavut Injunction Overturned in Milestone Ruling

Aboriginal Law team members Jason Cooke and Derek Simon have achieved a significant victory in the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal for Burchells’ longstanding client, the NunatuKavut Community Council.

On December 3, 2014, the Court of Appeal handed down an important decision, vacating an injunction that Nalcor Energy had obtained against NunatuKavut members for staging a one-day protest against Nalcor’s Lower Churchill Falls dam and transmission project.  The injunction had the effect of limiting members’ ability to legitimately speak out or protest against the project, and to access a large area around the project site where their members practice their Aboriginal rights.

This decision has important implications for the law of injunctions, Aboriginal Peoples, energy projects, and the Charter rights of Freedom of Speech and Assembly.

The Court of Appeal found that there was no cause of action, and insufficient proof of any likelihood of future harm. The Court also stated that courts should not grant injunctions where there are adequate alternate remedies, where the applicant doesn't have "clean hands" (including failing to consult in good faith) and that injunctions should not be overly broad, particularly in a way that limits Charter rights or Aboriginal rights. The full decision of the Court is available here:

Burchells LLP congratulates NunatuKavut on this important win in their ongoing battle for recognition and protection of their rights.