A chiropractor, convicted of six counts of professional misconduct and sentenced to nine months suspension and costs of over $80,000, unsuccessfully appealed the decision of the College of Chiropractors of Ontario to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice

23. December 2003 0

Administrative law – Chiropractors – Disciplinary proceedings – Professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming – Penalties – Suspensions – Costs – Judicial review – Administrative decisions – Evidence – Standard of review – Reasonableness simpliciter

Ressel v. College of Chiropractors of Ontario, [2003] O.J. No. 3032, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, July 25, 2003, O’Driscoll, Then and Lang JJ.

Between January and April of 1999, two children attended at the Appellant’s office for chiropractic services. Both children were suffering from significant medical conditions and were brought to the clinic by their mother. In April of 1999, the children’s mother cancelled an appointment. The chiropractor called her and a heated conversation took place. The children’s mother filed a letter of complaint with the College. As a result of the complaint, the chiropractors’ management of the children’s case was reviewed by the College and found to be deficient in a number of ways. A hearing regarding the allegations was held by a Discipline Committee of the College and the panel found that the College had proved five of the six charges.

The Appellant appealed the conviction to the court arguing that the Committee’s decision and reasons were unreasonable because: 1) its factual findings were not supported by the evidence or 2) its reasoning process was flawed.

Based on the recent decisions of Law Society of New Brunswick v. Ryan and Dr. Q. v. College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, the court held that the standard of review applicable to the appeal was reasonableness simplicitor.

The court held that it would serve no useful purpose and would fly in the face of recent authorities to go through the evidence with each witness and compare and contrast the evidence of the witness with the evidence of other witnesses and its application to the allegations. Instead, the court looked at the evidence generally and noted that overall the reasons stand up “to a somewhat probing examination”. The court concluded that the decision was not unreasonable and should stand.

With respect to the penalty, the court noted Takahashi and College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (1979), 26 O.R. (2d) 353, 364, which states that:

The discipline committee of a professional body is charged with a public responsibility to ensure and maintain high standards of professional ethics and practice. The penalty imposed by it against a member for professional misconduct, as has often been said, is not to be lightly interfered with.

The court dismissed the appeal with respect to both the findings of professional misconduct and to penalty.

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