Sask. Wheat Pool v. Can. (1983), 45 N.R. 425 (SCC)

MLB headnote and full text

Saskatchewan Wheat Pool v. Government of Canada

Indexed As: Saskatchewan Wheat Pool v. Canada

Supreme Court of Canada

Ritchie, Dickson, Beetz, Estey, McIntyre, Chouinard and Lamer, JJ.

February 8, 1983


The Saskatchewan Wheat Pool at the request of the Canadian Wheat Board collected grain from agents of the Board and shipped it to Thunder Bay for delivery to the Board on request. S. 86(c) of the Canada Grain Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. G-16, prohibited the Pool from delivering insect infested grain. Grain loaded on a ship at Thunder Bay by the Pool for the Board was infested. The Board brought an action on the nominate tort of statutory breach for damages. The Federal Court of Canada, Trial Division, allowed the action. The Pool appealed.

The Federal Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and dismissed the action on the ground that the violation of s. 86 (c) did not impose upon the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool a litigable duty enforceable by the Board by civil action. The Board appealed.

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal and rejected the notion of a nominate tort of statutory breach. The court stated that the civil consequences of breach of statute should be subsumed in the law of negligence and that proof of statutory breach causing damages could be evidence of negligence. However, the Board neither pleaded nor proved negligence.

Actions – Topic 1527

Cause of action – Creation of – By statute – By violation of statute – The Supreme Court of Canada rejected the notion of a nominate tort of statutory breach giving a right to recovery merely on proof of breach and damages and also rejected the notion that unexcused breach constitutes negligence per se raising absolute liability – The court stated that the civil consequences of breach of statute should be subsumed in the law of negligence; that proof of statutory breach causing damages may be evidence of negligence and that the statutory formulation of the duty may provide a standard of reasonable conduct.

Cases Noticed:

Sterling Trusts Corporation v. Postma, [1965] S.C.R. 324, consd. [paras. 12, 27].

London Passenger Transport Board v. Upson, [1949] 1 All E.R. 60, consd. [para. 13].

Doe d. Rochester v. Bridges (1831), 1 B. & Ad. 847; 109 E.R. 1001, consd. [para. 14].

Couch v. Steel (1854), 3 E. & B. 402, consd. [para. 15].

Atkinson v. Newcastle Waterworks Co. (1877), 2 Ex. D. 441, consd. [para. 15].

Pasmore v. Oswaldtwistle Urban Council, [1898] A.C. 387, appld. [para. 17].

Queensway Tank Lines Ltd. v. Moise, [1970] 1 O.R. 535, consd. [para. 27].

Cutler v. Wandsworth Stadium, Ltd. [1949] A.C. 398; [1948] 1 K.B. 291; [1946] K.B. 501, consd. [para. 29].

Statutes Noticed:

Canadian Wheat Board Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. C-12.

Canadian Grain Act, R.S.C. 1970, c. G-16, sect. 86(c).

Statute of Westminster II (1285), c. 50 [para. 14].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Comyn’s Digest [para. 15].

Fleming, The Law of Torts (5th Ed. 1977), pp. 123 [para. 18]; 124 [para. 22]; 125 [para. 20]; 133 [para. 21].

Fleming, More Thoughts on Loss Distribution (1966), 4 Osgoode Hall L.J. 161 [para. 30].

Fricke, The Juridical Nature of the Action Upon the Statute (1960), 76 L.Q. Rev. 240 [paras. 14, 16].

Holmes, The Common Law, p. 50 [para. 34].

Morris, The Relation of Criminal Statutes to Tort Liability (1932-33), 46 Harv. L. Rev. 453 [para. 26].

Prosser, The Law of Torts (4th Ed. 1971), [paras. 18, 24].

Restatement of the Law of Torts (2nd Ed.), [paras. 286, 288A, 288B] [para. 44].

Salmond on Torts (7th Ed. 1977), p. 243 [para. 21].

Sterling Trusts Corporation v. Postma (Comment) (1967), 45 Can. Bar Rev. 121 [para. 27].

Street, The Law of Torts (2nd Ed.), p. 273 [para. 16].

Thayer, Public Wrong and Private Action (1913-14), 27 Harv. L. Rev. 317 [para. 22].

Williams, Glanville, The Effect of Penal Legislation in The Law of Tort (1960), 23 Mod. L. Rev. 233 [para. 17].

Winfield and Jolowicz, Tort (llth Ed. 1979), [paras. 15, 18].


Henry B. Monk, Q.C., and E.I. MacDonald, Q.C., and Deedar Sagoo, for the appellant;

E.J. Moss, Q.C., and Barbara Shourounis, for the respondent.

This case was heard on February 17, 1982, at Ottawa, Ontario. before RITCHIE, DICKSON, BEETZ, ESTEY, McINTYRE, CHOUINARD and LAMER, JJ., of the Supreme Court of Canada.

On February 8, 1983, DICKSON, J., delivered the following judgment for the Supreme Court of Canada:


Saskatchewan Wheat Pool v. Canada

[1983] 1 SCR 205

Supreme Court of Canada
Reading Time:
23 minutes
Beetz, Chouinard, Dickson, Estey, Lamer, McIntyre, Ritchie 

: This case raises the difficult issue of the relation of a breach of statutory duty to a civil cause of action. Where “A” has breached a statutory duty causing injury to “B”, does “B” have a civil cause of action against “A”? If so, is “A’s” liability absolute, in the sense that it exists independently of fault, or is “A” free from liability if the failure to perform the duty is through no fault of his? In these proceedings the Canadian Wheat Board (the Board) is seeking to recover damages from the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool (the Pool) for delivery of infested grain out of a terminal elevator contrary to s. 86(c) of the Canada Grain Act, S.C. 1970-71-72, c. 7.

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