A notary unsuccessfully applied for judicial review of a decision terminating his membership in the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia after he was found to have engaged in practice outside of his jurisdiction

26. October 2010 0

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Society of Notaries – Notaries – Disciplinary proceedings – Practice outside of jurisdiction – Penalties and Suspensions – Judicial review – Compliance with legislation – Procedural requirements and fairness – Natural justice – Evidence – Sufficient notice – Failure to provide reasons

Evans v. Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia, [2010] B.C.J. No. 1735, 2010 BCSC 1232, British Columbia Supreme Court., September 1, 2010, J.E.D. Savage J.

The appellant, John Michael Evans, appeals a decision of the Board of Directors of the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia pursuant to s. 41 of the Notaries Act. Notarial seals are area specific. The appellant was authorized to practice as a notary in Vancouver only. He operated a real estate office in Sechelt but gave his office address as a location in Vancouver. The Notary Board found him in breach of the Rules of the Society and terminated his membership.

The appellant argued that there was a breach of procedural fairness on the grounds that (1) he was not given proper notice of the case he had to meet; (2) evidence was heard of matters outside the period of time where his conduct was in issue; (3) that conclusions were reached on matters that were not clearly before the Board or Discipline Committee; (4) that the Board or Discipline Committee strayed from the four corners of the charges against the appellant; (5) there was little or no deliberation between the hearing, conclusion, and penalty phase of the proceeding; and (6) the reasons for decision are deficient in that they do not set out in any meaningful way the basis on which the Notary Board made its decision.

The court reviewed the history of the proceedings, and noted that the Notary Board had advised the appellant in December 1995 that he must open an office in his notarial district of Vancouver within one year or he would lose his licence. At that time, the appellant arranged for office space at a private residence owned by his parents in Vancouver, but continued to practice largely in Sechelt. Further, in 1997, the Notary Board had reprimanded the appellant for performing notary work outside of his notarial district and in contravention of the Notaries Act.

Given the extensive history of dealings between the appellant and the Notary Board, the court held that the appellant had been given proper notice of the case against him. The court also held that it was proper for the Notary Board to have reviewed the earlier disciplinary proceeding and the appellant’s practice over the intervening years in the course of its deliberation. The history of the appellant’s practice was germane to the issue under consideration, and had been raised by the appellant himself in the course of the proceedings. Finally, the court held that the reasons provided by the Notary Board provided an adequate line of analysis from which the Board’s conclusions could be reasonably supported. The court concluded that there was no basis upon which to overturn the decision made by the Notary Board.

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