Detective Robertson, an Edmonton police officer, was the subject of several citations related to his activities while on the police force. During proceedings, Detective Robertson applied to the court for a stay on the grounds that natural justice required that he be provided with funded counsel due to the complexity of the citations. The application to the court failed.

24. December 2002 0

Administrative law – Police – Disciplinary proceedings – Stay of proceedings – Right to legal representation – Judicial review – Breach of procedural fairness

Robertson v. Edmonton (City) Police Service, [2002] A.J. No. 1366, Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, November 6, 2002, Clackson J.

Fifteen citations were launched against Detective Robertson (the “Applicant”) by the Edmonton (City) Police Service (“EPS”). During the proceedings, the Applicant was faced with a great deal of evidence and concluded that he could not effectively defend himself without representation. The Applicant applied to the court on the grounds that natural justice required that he be provided with counsel. The Applicant argued that he could not pay for counsel from his meagre resources and that counsel would have to be funded by the Respondent. The court agreed that in this proceeding the Applicant has a right to be represented by counsel. The court referred to the Police Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. P-17, section 47(j)which provides:

(j)  The person in respect of whom a complaint is made is entitled…

(iii) to be represented by a lawyer or agent.

The court went on to state that the right to be represented by counsel does not mean that counsel is to be provided at state expense. Although the matter was a complex one involving over 15 citations, natural justice does not mean that the Applicant must be represented by a lawyer; rather, the principles of natural justice are met if the accused is given the right to make full answer and defence. The court concluded that in an administrative proceeding, life, liberty, and security of the person are not at stake and that society has less concern about achieving a true result and more concern about a just result and a just process. The court then considered whether the interests at stake were sufficiently serious to warrant compelling the Respondent to pay for the Applicant’s counsel. The court concluded that, while the disciplinary proceedings did have serious implications for the detective’s career, these implications alone did not justify ordering the Respondent to pay for counsel.

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