Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – College of Dental Surgeons – Dentists – Former member – Investigations – Judicial review – Compliance with legislation – Jurisdiction of tribunal
Abouabdallah v. College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan,  S.J. No. 526, 2011 SKCA 99, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, September 2, 2011, W.J. Vancise, R.K. Ottenbreit and N.W. Caldwell JJ.A.
The applicant, Dr. Abouabdallah, appealed the dismissal of his application for judicial review of a preliminary decision by the Discipline Committee of the College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan (the “Discipline Committee”) regarding his status as a member of the College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan (the “College”).
The sole issue for consideration was whether the College had jurisdiction to hear and determine a complaint filed against the applicant while he was a practising dentist in Saskatchewan, despite the fact that he was no longer a member in good standing of the College as he had elected not to pay his annual licence fee and had left the province.
The court held that the applicant was both a “member” and a “member in good standing” at the time of the impugned conduct, and the investigation into that conduct was commenced by the College’s professional conduct committee prior to the applicant’s decision to forego payment of his annual fees. Further, the court noted that declining to pay those fees did not terminate membership in the College, as the applicant would have been able to take out a licence and become a practising member if he complied with the terms and conditions set forth in the Dental Disciplines Act, S.S. 1997, c. D-4.1 (the “Act”). Regardless, the court held that while proceedings cannot be commenced against former members who are outside the statutory authority granted by professional governing bodies, members cannot evade ongoing proceedings by terminating their membership in the governing body during the proceedings by refusing to pay membership fees or by moving out of the jurisdiction.
The court held that the applicant was a member of the College at the time the complaint was filed and the investigation by the professional conduct committee commenced, and the Discipline Committee therefore had jurisdiction to hear and determine the complaint. The court also held that there was no evidence of any denial of natural justice or procedural fairness in the course of the investigation and the appeal was dismissed on both grounds.
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