The action by a real estate appraiser (“Egerton”) seeking to set aside the decision of the Appeal Board of the Appraisal Institute of Canada (“AIC”), which had confirmed the discipline of reprimand imposed on Egerton by the Adjudicating Committee of the AIC, was allowed where the Court found that AIC did not conduct the disciplinary process in a fair, open and impartial manner

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Investigations – Role of investigator – Real estate appraisers – Disciplinary proceedings – Judicial review – Natural justice – Procedural requirements and fairness

Egerton v. Appraisal Institute of Canada, [2008] O.J. No. 379, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, February 5, 2008, W. U. Tausendfreund

The AIC is a self regulated body which operates educational programs and qualifies its members to become appraisers in Canada. The AIC maintains three disciplinary committees that carry out investigation, adjudication and appeal hearings for alleged breaches of the Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice established by the AIC for its members.

In 1996, Egerton prepared an appraisal report for a property in Stanford. Egerton’s client was displeased with the report and retained another appraiser to review and critique the Egerton report. The client then submitted a written complaint to the AIC regarding certain perceived deficiencies in the Egerton report.

The AIC turned the matter over to its Investigating Committee which appointed an investigator to prepare a report for the Committee. All correspondence to Egerton from the AIC from this point forward was “ghost written” by the investigator including requests for Egerton’s working papers and file and his response to questions surrounding the preparation of the report. The Court reviewed the workings of the Investigating Committee and noted that the investigation proceeded in “Star Chamber” form. The hearing was heard in private and without Egerton’s knowledge or input. The Preliminary Hearing Brief prepared by the investigator, which included a number of paragraphs written by the investigator which denigrated Egerton, was presented to a panel of the Investigating Committee of which the investigator himself was a voting member.

The Court held that the disciplinary process of the AIC was fatally flawed from the moment the Investigating Committee considered and voted on the preliminary hearing report presented to it by the investigator. The process by that stage was beyond rehabilitation. The Court noted that Egerton should have been entitled to a hearing before the Investigating Committee as the decision of the Investigating Committee had a distinct impact on the final outcome of this disciplinary process against Egerton. The Court ordered that the finding of the Appeal Committee and the sanction imposed be struck as against Egerton who was entitled to a refund of any fine which he may have paid.

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