The Competence Committee of the Certified General Accountants Association of Ontario (the “Competence Committee”) was successful in obtaining judicial review of a decision of the Appeal Tribunal of the Association where the Court held that the Tribunal made a decision on matters that were not before it and, in doing so, breached its duty to act fairly

26. December 2007 0

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Certified General Accountants – Accountants – Disciplinary proceedings – Judicial review – Jurisdiction of tribunal – Procedural requirements and fairness

Certified General Accountants Assn. of Ontario v. Certified General Accountants Assn. of Ontario, [2007] O.J. No. 4299, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, November 7, 2007, J.D. Carnwath, J.R.R. Jennings and A.M. Gans JJ.

The Association established the Competence Committee to deal with issues of competence concerning its members. Two former clients of Susan Vint, a member of the Association, filed complaints against her that were heard by the Competence Tribunal. Its decision was appealed to the Appeal Tribunal by the Competence Committee. The Appeal Tribunal determined a number of issues, chief amongst which was its conclusion that the Competence Tribunal did not have jurisdiction to make compensatory orders. Ms. Vint had not appealed the compensatory orders made against her and the Competence Committee had only raised on its appeal the quantum of the compensatory orders made by the Competence Tribunal, not the Competence Tribunal’s jurisdiction to make such awards. The Competence Committee sought judicial review of the decision of the Appeal Tribunal.

The Court noted that the Appeal Tribunal did not advise the parties that it took any issue with or was in any way questioning the jurisdiction of the Competence Tribunal to order compensation. Accordingly, no opportunity was given to fully address that vital issue. The Appeal Tribunal had concluded that compensatory orders were not rehabilitative and accordingly were not within the powers given to the Competence Tribunal. This was not a matter that was before the Appeal Tribunal and by failing to give the parties the opportunity to address the matters of concern, the Appeal Tribunal breached a basic tenet of administrative law – the duty to act fairly. The Court noted that this duty requires, at a minimum, that the person be told the case to be met and given an opportunity to respond (see Nicholson v. Haldemand-Norfolk (Regional Municipality) Commissioners of Police (1978), 88 D.L.R. (3d) 671 (S.C.C.)).

In the result, the Court held that the decision of the Appeal Tribunal was quashed and the matter remitted to a hearing before a differently constituted panel.

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