Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Law Societies – Barristers and solicitors – Disciplinary proceedings – Professional misconduct – Penalties and suspensions – Judicial review – Standard of review – Reasonableness simpliciter
Oledski v. Law Society of Saskatchewan,  S.J. No. 573, 2010 SKCA 120, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, September 27, 2010, J.G. Lane, R.K. Ottenbreit and N.W. Caldwell JJ.A.
Oledski was found guilty of conduct unbecoming by the Discipline Committee of the Law Society of Saskatchewan. The Discipline Committee disbarred Oledski and ordered that he not apply for readmission for at least a year.
The Court’s jurisdiction to hear the appeal arose under Section 56 of the Legal Profession Act, 1990. S.S. 1990-91 c. L-10.1. The Court determined that the appropriate standard of review was reasonableness: Dunsmuir v. New Brunswick, 2008 SCC 9.
The sole issue before the Court was whether the penalty imposed by the Discipline Committee was reasonable in the circumstances. The Supreme Court of Canada in Dunsmuir set out a 2-part review to determine whether a decision is reasonable:
…in judicial review, reasonableness is concerned mostly with the existence of justification, transparency and intelligibility within the decision-making process. But it is also concerned with whether the decision falls within a range of possible, acceptable outcomes which are defensible in respect of the facts and law.
In this case, the Court found that the Discipline Committee had carefully set out its analysis in a 30-page decision that was clear and cogent and contained thorough justification for each finding of guilt and for the global penalty of disbarment.
The Court further found that disbarment was a reasonable and defensible outcome where the complaints of forgery, misleading the public and misleading other members of the profession had been proven or admitted based upon a review of the discipline case law on forgery by a member. In the circumstances, the penalty imposed by the Discipline Committee fell within the range of possible, acceptable penalties. As a result, Oledski’s appeal was dismissed.
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