In its decision in Runkle v. Alberta (Chief Firearms Officer), the Alberta Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal from the Court of Queen’s Bench on the basis of mootness. The respondent Runkle had originally brought a claim against the Chief Firearms Officer of Alberta (“CFAO”), because the CFOA had amended the respondent’s Long-Term Authorization to Transport Firearms to exclude permission to transport his firearm to a gunsmith. However, by the time the appeal reached the Alberta Court of Appeal, the respondent had received the authorization he originally sought from the CFOA. Therefore, the respondent requested to have the appeal dismissed on the grounds that the case was now moot. Conversely, the CFOA wanted the appeal to be heard, for fear that the Queen’s Bench decision would set a problematic precedent.

The court determined that on the facts, this appeal became moot once the respondent had been given exactly what he had wanted from the CFOA. The Court stated that it does retain the discretion to entertain a moot appeal under limited circumstances:

[3] The three criteria applied in deciding whether to exercise the discretion are whether there still exists an adversarial relationship, concern for conserving judicial resources and sensitivity to the court’s proper law-making function […]

However, in this case the court determined that the remaining questions of law were best left for an appropriately adversarial set of facts. Specifically, the Court stated:

[10] While we endorse the observation of the leave judge that the law in this area might benefit from greater certainty, it can perhaps be said in most cases where the issue becomes moot on the facts that the law could still use clarification. The adversary system, however, generally contemplates a real dispute existing in order to nourish the exercise of appellate jurisdiction.