CAT File No. Q-1530-33
MoT File No. NAP6504-C7857-29673
CIVIL AVIATION TRIBUNAL
Minister of Transport, Applicant
- and -
Noël Cormier, Respondent
Aeronautics Act, S.C., c.A-2, s.7.7
Canadian Aviation Regulations, SOR/96-433, s. 103.03, 103.08(1)
Suspension of Approved Maintenance Organization Certificate, Return of Canadian Aviation Document
Decision: November 19, 1997
I conclude that the Minister has unequivocally proven the contravention of section 103.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. Given the good faith shown by the Respondent, and the fact that the contravention occurred because of ignorance on his part rather than deliberate intent not to comply with regulations, given also the fact that the Respondent has not done anything that might result in a threat to aviation safety, I reduce the monetary penalty from $500.00 to $50.00. The payment shall be made to the Receiver General for Canada and received by the Civil Aviation Tribunal within fifteen days of service of this determination.
A Review Hearing in the above matter was held Monday, November 17, 1997 at 10:00 hours at the Federal Court of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. The witnesses were duly sworn.
The Respondent, Mr. Noël Cormier, of Aviation Cormier, is alleged to have contravened section 103.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs), by failing to return his Approved Maintenance Organization certificate (AMO), number 318-91, following suspension of said certificate. A monetary penalty of $500.00 was assessed, pursuant to section 103.08 of the aforementioned Regulations.
Section 103.03 of the CARs stipulates as follows:
103.3 Where a Canadian aviation document has been suspended or cancelled, the person to whom it was issued shall return it to the Minister immediately after the effective date of the suspension or cancellation.
Subsection 103.08(1) of the CARs stipulates as follows:
103.08 (1) The provisions set out in column I of the schedule to this Subpart are hereby designated as provisions the contravention of which may be dealt with under and in accordance with the procedure set out in sections 7.7 to 8.2 of the Act.
Section 103.03 is included in column I of the schedule.
On January 27, 1997, the Minister of Transport issued a Notice of Suspension by registered mail to Aviation Cormier, owned by Mr. Noël Cormier, for non-compliance with the procedures stipulated in the CARs.
The notice in question was sent to the two addresses known to the Department (Exhibits M-1a and M-1b). The Department filed in evidence Canada Post coupons (Exhibits M-2a and M-2b) showing that the Respondent had indeed received the mailings.
The suspended certificate, bearing No. 318-91, was initially issued on June 26, 1991. On March 18, 1992, the certificate was replaced by another document, "Limitations for Approval of an Approved Maintenance Organization" (Exhibit M-3).
The Department, not having received the aforementioned certificate on the date specified in its January 27, 1997 letter, decided to assess a monetary penalty of $500.00 to the Respondent. This monetary penalty, due September 25, 1997, has not been paid, hence the hearing today.
In responding to the above allegations, the Respondent indicated in substance that:
- The certificate could not be returned because it had been inadvertently destroyed;
- The Respondent had so advised Transport Canada's Enforcement Office in Montreal by telephone, saying that the Regional Manager's secretary, in this case Mr. Gosselin's secretary, had taken the call, advising that she would pass on the message to the appropriate person;
- He had not intended to renew his certificate in any case, having ceased his operations;
- He had advised the Montreal Airworthiness Office (by telephone once again) of his decision in the fall of 1996, before receiving the Notice of Suspension.
- No letter, nor any witness (save for the Respondent himself), however, could be presented in evidence to support these affirmations.
Under cross-examination, the Respondent confirmed that his business was not doing very well between the fall of 1996 and the winter of 1997, and that he did not see any purpose in returning a document he no longer intended to use. That is the reason no effort was made to explain his situation to Transport Canada, except for the two aforementioned telephone calls.
As Mr. Gosselin was present, I asked him to testify in order to determine whether he was aware of Mr. Cormier's telephone call regarding the fact that his certificate was destroyed.
Mr. Gosselin replied in the negative, adding that any message of this nature is normally brought to his attention. Mr. Gosselin indicated that a temporary employee had been on duty in his office at that time of the year (January 1997), leaving open the possibility of an error. On the other hand, Mr. Gosselin added that a Notice of Assessment of Monetary Penalty always includes an invitation to an informal meeting to discuss the issue at hand. Mr. Gosselin did not receive any calls from the Respondent.
Following this testimony, the Respondent repeated that it is impossible to know all the points of the law, that his business was really not going well and that he did not see what all the fuss was about, as he had ceased all activity as an AMO. He admitted, however, that as an individual, he was responsible for taking appropriate measures in such circumstances, adding that he had done so, by telephone.
In his argument, Mr. Tamborriello essentially summarized what had been heard, adding that this was a case of a deliberate act by the Respondent to avoid compliance with the Regulations, hence the monetary penalty in the amount of $500.00.
Mr. Cormier presented no arguments.
Section 103.03 is very specific and the Applicant clearly proved that the Respondent had not complied with its provisions. The Respondent does not deny the fact, giving as a reason the loss of the document.
Apparently, as a result of financial difficulties and a lack of experience in legal dealings, the Respondent did not realize the importance of not complying with the law, which he considers to be simply a set of procedures.
I do not believe, however, that the Respondent acted deliberately or in bad faith, as suggested by the Applicant. The Respondent did advise the Airworthiness Office that he did not intend to renew his certificate and the Enforcement Office that the certificate had been destroyed. All we can say is that his approach was awkward and that he should have made sure that everything was in order.
I conclude that the Minister has unequivocally proven the contravention of section 103.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. Given the good faith shown by the Respondent, and the fact that the contravention occurred as a result of ignorance on his part rather than deliberate intent not to comply with regulations, given also the fact that the Respondent has not done anything that might result in a threat to aviation safety, I reduce the monetary penalty from $500.00 to $50.00.
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