Administrative law – Chiropractors – Governance of professional association – Jurisdiction – Disciplinary proceedings – Professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming – Judicial review – Compliance with legislation – Right of appeal of professional association
Manitoba Chiropractors Assn. v. Alevizos,  M.J. No. 206, Manitoba Court of Appeal, June 9, 2003, Twaddle, Monnin and Freedman JJ.A.
The Manitoba Chiropractors Association is a corporation charged with the governance of the chiropractic profession in Manitoba. It acts through a board, statutory committees and its officers. One such committee is the Inquiry Committee; one such officer is the Registrar. The Respondent, a chiropractor, was a member of the Association and was a member of the Board. During his tenure on the Board, a discipline matter involving another member of the Association was discussed. Subsequent to these discussions, the Respondent was asked by legal counsel of the member being investigated to advise of the process by which the member’s matter had been dealt with. In addressing legal counsel’s question, the Respondent provided confidential information. The Respondent was charged with professional misconduct pursuant to section 40 of the Act. The Board directed that the charge be referred to the Inquiry Committee for a hearing. The Committee found as a fact that the Respondent had committed a breach of section 43(9)(a) of the Act which provides,
Except for the purposes of a prosecution under this Act, or in any court proceedings, or for the purpose of the administration and enforcement of this Act and regulations, no person acting in an official or other capacity under this Act or the regulations shall:
(a) knowingly communicate or allow to be communicated any information obtained by him in the course of administering this Act or the regulations.
The Committee noted the provisions of section 4(2) of Manitoba Regulation 66/86 passed pursuant to the Act. To the extent material, section 4(2) provides:
Without limiting the meaning of the term “professional misconduct” the following conduct shall be deemed to be professional misconduct:
(b) Contravention of any provision of the Act or the regulations.
The effect of the provision was considered by the Committee who concluded that:
The Committee feels that while his actions reflect on Dr. Alevizos’ judgment in his role as a director, they do not reflect on his ability, suitability, or qualifications to practice chiropractic. Nor do we feel that the situation reflects on his personal characteristics. We do not think this situation is one which should carry a consequence to Dr. Alevizos’ professional career.
In the result, the charge against Dr. Alevizos was dismissed.
The Association was dissatisfied with the Inquiry Committee’s decision to dispose of the charge. There being no statutory right of appeal from a decision of the Inquiry Committee, the Association sought judicial review. The motion was heard by a Queen’s Bench judge who concluded that the Inquiry Committee was bound as a matter of law by the Regulation to find Dr. Alevizos guilty of professional misconduct. The Respondent appealed to the Manitoba Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal noted that a right of appeal from a disciplinary decision of a professional association can only exist if conferred by statute and can only be exercised by those on whom the right has been expressly conferred. Under the Act, no right of appeal was conferred on anyone from a decision of an Inquiry Committee on a charge of professional misconduct. A professional association incorporated by statute is a person in the eyes of the law. Like a human being, such an association has but a single personality. Absent an express statutory provision to the contrary, it cannot sue itself directly or through the medium of one of its committees. Nor by way of extension of that principle can it seek a court review of its own decision or that of a committee. The decision of a statutorily constituted committee is the decision of the Association as a whole and, in the absence of provision to the contrary in the incorporating statute, cannot be reviewed by the governing body or by the court on the application of the Association. If the Manitoba legislature had created an exception to this general rule, then there may be a different result; however, in the Act at hand, there were no exceptions created and, therefore, absent express statutory provision, the final decision of a committee of a professional association properly empowered to make such a decision is not reviewable by the court on an application by the Association or its governing body.
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