Especially where it’s clear that the information on the website deals only in generalities and can’t address particular circumstances, as Rob Mauchel learned in Mauchel v Canada (Attorney General), 2012 FCA 202. Mauchel quit his job to relocate to Toronto, where his wife had accepted a new position. He checked the Service Canada website and concluded that employment insurance (EI) was available only to those who lose a job ‘through no fault of their own’. If he had dug a little more deeply, he would have seen that quitting to relocate with a spouse would also have made him eligible for EI. A government employee subsequently pointed this out to Mauchel, who applied for EI retroactively.
His application was initially turned down, but successful on appeal. A further appeal found in favour of the EI Commission, on the grounds that Mauchel had found the website unduly complicated but failed to make further enquiries, as a reasonable person would have done. Mauchel took things to the Federal Court of Appeal, which disagreed that Mauchel had found the site too complex (he testified that he thought the information ‘clear and unambiguous’) but agreed that he had not taken reasonable steps to assess whether the general statements on the main page really applied to him. (The fact that he was a previous EI claimant and an IT worker accustomed to web-based research clearly factored into the reasonableness analysis.) A reasonable person would have gone deeper into the website or called the Commission.
[Link available here].