Boxer Kirk Johnson wins discrimination case costs

Halifax police must pay two-thirds of boxer Kirk Johnson's legal bill incurred in his discrimination case against the force.

Halifax police must pay two-thirds of the legal bill boxer Kirk Johnson incurred in his discrimination case against the force, a human rights inquiry ruled on Tuesday.

The provincial Human Rights Commission dismissed the police department's arguments in finding that it had the power to award legal costs in the matter.

"The whole point of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act is to try to facilitate redress for victims of discrimination, and its provisions should be interpreted so as to achieve that end," wrote the inquiry chair Philip Girard.

Heavyweight boxer Kirk Johnson claimed he was discriminated against because of his race when police in Halifax pulled him over and seized his car in Dartmouth, N.S., in 1998. 

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission ruled in Johnson's favour in December 2003, ordering police to pay him $10,000 in damages. It found officers had "acted on a stereotype."

The police department, but not the officer in charge during the incident, apologized to Johnson the following January.

Johnson's lawyers are asking for $88,000 for 350 billable hours plus disbursements and taxes.

Tuesday's ruling concluded a special hearing called in April to consider submissions regarding legal costs. The charges must now be submitted to an independent assessor to determine the final amount.