The majority held that civil courts have jurisdiction to review the decision of a religious organization where the decision impacts property or civil rights, or if a breach of the rules of natural justice is alleged. Here Wall alleged sufficient procedural irregularities to give jurisdiction to determine if rules of natural justice were breached. The appeals court majority also held that Wall can submit new evidence to the trial court on whether the impact of shunning by fellow congregants will result in an economic impact on his real estate business.
Judge Wakeling dissenting said in part:
Relying on basic constitutional principles, I have concluded that, presumptively, religious associations – and more importantly, the constituent members – have the constitutional right to select their own members – those with whom they will worship. This decision to exclude a person from the group may be attributable to irreconcilable religious differences or perceived unacceptable forms of behaviour. One should not have to undertake such an intensely personal pursuit with those with whom they do not wish to associate. A religious association must be solely responsible for this class of decisions.
A civil court must decline to review membership decisions of a religious association....
[S]tate intervention in the affairs of religious organizations is not only contrary to the interests of a democratic community, it is also inimical to the welfare of both religious organizations and their congregants. Whether a religion prospers and attracts new members and has influence in the greater community should be the product of the efforts of adherents of a religion and the values of the religion, not the level of support provided by state apparatus, including the judicial branch of government.
... Courts have neither the mandate nor the expertise to resolve religious doctrinal disputes.Where one appellate judge dissents on an issue of law, an appeal as of right to Canada's Supreme Court is available. (Background.) National Post reports on the decision.