A dentist (“Violette”), applied for judicial review of the decision of the New Brunswick Dental Society, in which the Society ordered that Violette be prohibited from treating patients with TMJ disorder and from practising orthodontics. The New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench dismissed the application, holding that the Court should not review the decision of the Discipline Committee when the Applicant had available other avenues of review which he had not pursued.

Administrative law – Dentists – Disciplinary proceedings – Governance – Judicial review – Self-governing professions

Violette v. New Brunswick Dental Society, [2003] N.B.J. No. 129, New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench, March 26, 2003, Garnett J.

Violette argued that the Board did not have legal training, and so he should not have to pursue his option of appealing to the Board. The New Brunswick Court of Queen’s Bench held that, following the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in Harlekin v. University of Regina (1979), 96 D.L.R. (3d) 14 (S.C.C.), such an argument must fail.

The Court held that it was incumbent on Violette to show that any delays were caused by the tribunal, and that he had failed to establish that the complaints process was sufficiently slow and expensive to permit judicial review prior to pursuing other avenues of review. On the argument of expenses, the Court stated that “Members of professions must be taken to have accepted the burdens as well as the privileges associated with self-governance” including the costs associated with operating a tribunal.

The New Brunswick Dental Act, S.N.B. 1985, c.73 provided for an appeal to the Board of the Society on the record, including applications the Board receive further evidence. In addition, a further appeal on questions of law could be made to the Court of Queen’s Bench. The Court held that, despite Violette’s arguments, the appeal provisions provided by the Act afforded him an adequate remedy that he was obliged to exhaust prior to being granted judicial review.

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