Tax court takes time seriously

National Post


If you object to your tax assessment and demand your day in court, make sure you can stay for your entire hearing, or risk having your case dismissed.

Adeleke Keshinro appeared in Tax Court on Oct. 6, 2010 at 2 p.m. to contest an income tax matter. He testified, presented evidence and was subsequently cross-examined by the Crown. At 4: 53 p.m., nearing the end of the cross-examination and with only about five questions left, Mr. Keshinro told the court that he had a problem.

He said his 12-year-old daughter had been out of school since 3: 30 p.m. and that he needed to leave the court to pick her up.

Associate chief Justice Eugene Rossiter agreed to adjourn the matter until the following day at 8: 30 a.m. Before agreeing to do so, the following exchange took place:

"We will start here tomorrow morning at 8: 30 a.m. You will be here at 8: 30 a.m. Do you understand?" asked Judge Rossiter.

"Yes, sir," Mr. Keshinro said.

"That's 8: 30 a.m. here to start. Not 8: 35 a.m., but 8: 30 a.m. Are you going to be here tomorrow morning at 8: 30 a.m.?"

"Yes, sir. I am a schoolteacher." "You can forget about school tomorrow. You're going to be here at 8: 30 a.m. tomorrow morning; we are going to finish your case tomorrow morning."

The following morning, the court resumed at 8: 33 a.m. when it was advised that Mr. Keshinro was going to be late, but that he had "apparently left a message that he would be there in about one hour."

Judge Rossiter adjourned the case and recalled court at 11: 03 a.m. Again, Mr. Keshinro failed to appear, at which time the Crown successfully moved to have the case dismissed as a result of Mr. Keshinro's failure to attend the hearing as scheduled.

On July 15 this year, Mr. Keshinro was back in Tax Court to argue for a fresh hearing based on an explanatory letter he had sent to the court last fall, saying that he failed to appear since he had to take his "young son . for medical treatment for a sudden ailment. I have attached a copy of the physician's note to prove this emergency. I am desirous of prosecuting this appeal and I fervently pray for a second chance to be heard in the ultimate interest of justice."

Attached to that letter was a doctor's note stating, "He was late for court last week October 07/10 due to child-care responsibilities."

Judge Rossiter noted that the doctor's note made no mention of an Oct. 7 emergency. He also "was not particularly impressed with [Mr. Keshinro] and his evidence at the trial. Notwithstanding his level of education, the presentation of his appeal and his own evidence was convoluted, mixed up, lacked any organization and it was almost impossible to follow and to get any thread of consistency to his story."

As a result, Mr. Keshinro's request for a new trial was denied.