Canada and reviewability of membership decisions of religious bodies: Highwood

The Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is a voluntary religious association. A member must live according to accepted standards of conduct and morality; and a member who deviates and does not repent may be asked to appear before a Judicial Committee of elders and may be disfellowshipped. In 2014, Mr Randy Wall was disfellowshipped after he had engaged in what was regarded as sinful behaviour and was considered to be insufficiently repentant – a decision confirmed by an Appeal Committee. He sought judicial review of that decision; and a majority of the Alberta Court of Appeal concluded that the courts had jurisdiction to consider the merits of his application.

In Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (Judicial Committee) v Wall 2018 SCC 26b, the Supreme Court of Canada reversed the Alberta Court of Appeal. Continue reading