An application for judicial review with respect to issues relating to an ongoing disciplinary hearing under the Alberta Police Act was dismissed on the basis of prematurity

22. November 2005 0

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Police Commission – Disciplinary proceedings – Hearings – Pending hearings – Discretion of court to interfere – Judicial review – Procedural requirements and fairness – Bias – Remedies – Availability

Smyth v. Edmonton (City) Police Service, [2005] A.J. No. 1216, Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, September 6, 2005, Lefsrud J.

The Applicant, Constable “S”, brought an application for judicial review seeking an Order of certiorari quashing the notice of a disciplinary hearing, an Order prohibiting the presiding officer from conducting the disciplinary hearing, and an injunction enjoining the presiding officer and the EPS from proceeding with the upcoming disciplinary hearing. The relief was sought on the basis that “S” was not charged within 3 months of the complaint, that he had already received a “low level” sanction which precluded further discipline and that the decision to direct a hearing was tainted by bias and unfairness.

The Court noted that where judicial review is sought while a hearing is pending, the Court must be careful in exercising its discretion to grant a remedy. Courts generally have expressed reluctance to interfere by way of judicial review with pending hearings, particularly those pending before disciplinary tribunals and self-regulating professions. Interference by the Court results in fragmentation of proceedings and delay.

The relevant legislation in this case indicated that the legislature was of the view that police discipline should be handled internally. The presiding officer was in a much better position to get to the bottom of the factual disputes which predominated in this matter, a number of which had policy implications. The Court held that to exercise jurisdiction to grant a remedy on the judicial review application would merely promote waste and fragmentation in similar cases. The Court held that a decision arrived at as a result of the hearing before the presiding officer would assist on the review sought in this case. The Court therefore dismissed the application.

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