"In the recent Supreme Court of Canada case Sobeys West Inc. v. Alberta College of Pharmacists the propriety of Sobeys, awarding Air Miles rewards on purchases of pharmaceutical products was challenged by the Alberta College of Pharmacists, a professional governing body which regulates conduct of pharmacists and pharmacies.
The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench had allowed an application by Sobeys, which also owns and operates Safeway, to apply the reward program to the purchase of pharmacy products.
The College successfully appealed to the Alberta Court of Appeal to on the basis that amendments to the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice for Pharmacists that prohibited inducements which were conditional on a patient obtaining a drug or professional service from a pharmacy.
That Court of Appeal decision overturned the lower Court of Queen's Bench decision upon judicial review which held that the College's amendments were ultra vires the College and therefore it could not deny rewards to a purchaser of pharmaceutical products under Sobeys' loyalty program.
The Court of Appeal determined that the judge hearing the review had erred in using the wrong standard in finding the amendments to be ultra vires and therefore used the standard of "reasonableness" to substitute its own findings and prohibit Sobeys applying Air Miles to purchases of pharmaceutical drugs and services.
Sobeys application to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was dismissed."
(Thanks to the Supreme Advocacy and Eugene Meehan, Q.C.)
Jim is a Partner with Rowanoak Law Office LLP