The Applicant, Mo’s Sport’s Parlour, applied for a judicial review of the Board (the “Board”) of the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission’s (the “Commission”) decision cancelling its licence which permitted it to operate a bar, serve liquor and have specified gaming machines in the bar. Applying the standard of review of reasonableness simpliciter, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench held that the Commission did not breach the rules of natural justice by refusing to allow the Applicant to ask certain questions on cross-examination of a witness. It also concluded that there was a thread of reason through the Commission’s written reasons supporting this conclusion. The Court dismissed the Application for judicial review.

28. November 2006 0

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Gaming and Liquor Commission – Permits and licences – Hearings – Conduct of hearings – Judicial review – Procedural requirements and fairness – Natural justice – Evidence – Witnesses – Compliance with legislation – Statutory interpretation – Standard of review – Reasonableness simpliciter

Mo’s Sports Parlour (2000) Ltd. v. Alberta (Gaming and Liquor Commission), [2006] A.J. No. 1174, Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, June 21, 2006, Moen J.

Mo’s Sport’s Parlour operated a bar in which it allowed betting to occur. An undercover investigation took place regarding what the Commission thought might have been illegal gambling operations. Once the investigation was completed, the investigator filed a Report with the Commission. The Commission reviewed the Report without a hearing and cancelled Mo’s licence. A stay of the cancellation was granted and a hearing ensued before a Board Panel. At the hearing, the hearing panel did not allow Mo’s counsel to pursue a line of questioning during cross-examination of one witness. Mo’s argued this was a breach of the rules of natural justice.

The first issue the Court of Queen’s Bench considered was whether the Commission breached the rules of natural justice by limiting Mo’s questioning during the cross-examination. It held that the appropriate standard of review was reasonableness simpliciter. The Court held that Mo’s had a right of cross-examination, but that the Panel properly curtailed it.

The Court also considered whether the Commission erred in its interpretation of the Act holding that the proper standard of proof was the balance of probabilities and that the appropriate standard of review was reasonableness simpliciter. The Court held that the appropriate standard of proof was the civil standard; it took into account the context of the section in the Act as a whole, noted the distinction between the regulatory and quasi-criminal procedures in the Act, and noted that the hearing before the Board was a civil proceeding. The Court concluded that it did not find any error in the Panel’s decision, which was decided on a balance of probabilities that there were illegal gambling activities occurring in Mo’s. From the Court’s review of the Board Panel’s written reasons, there was a thread of reason supporting the conclusions, and that was all that was required under the reasonableness simplicter standard.

The Court therefore dismissed Mo’s application for judicial review.

To stay current with the new case law and emerging legal issues in this area, subscribe here.