The Court denied a vexatious litigant (pharmacist) leave to appeal a decision that denied his reinstatement application for his pharmacy license on the basis that it was an abuse of process and there were no reasonable grounds for it

22. December 2015 0

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – College of Pharmacists – Pharmacists – Governance – Disciplinary proceedings – Professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming – Licence to practice – Reinstatement – Judicial review – Appeals – Leave to appeal – Abuse of process – Jurisdiction – Compliance with legislation – Rules and by-laws – Standard of review – Reasonableness simpliciter

Riad v. Ontario College of Pharmacists, [2015] O.J. No. 5676, 2015 ONSC 6736, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, October 30, 2015, R.F. Goldstein J.

There are two ways a pharmacist can apply for reinstatement where a discipline panel of the College has revoked his/her certificate. One way is through a hearing before the Discipline Committee at the College. The second way is through the Executive Committee of the College. In this matter, the Executive Committee dismissed the applicant’s reinstatement application and the applicant then sought to appeal this decision to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

In 2001-2002, the applicant, a pharmacist, pleaded guilty to professional misconduct before the College. Terms were imposed on his employment as a pharmacist. He was also criminally convicted of defrauding the Ontario Drug Benefit Program of almost $200,000.  In 2006, the College of Pharmacists (the “College”) revoked the applicant’s license, finding him guilty of multiple acts of professional misconduct relating to significant violations of the 2002 order. In addition, the Discipline Committee found him guilty of professional misconduct for another criminal conviction, where he was charged and convicted of making a false statement to procure a passport and for obstructions of justice.

In January 2010, the applicant applied for reinstatement; a panel of the Discipline Committee of the College dismissed the application. Since then, the applicant reapplied for reinstatement; that application is outstanding. In the meantime, he also applied in January 2015 to the Executive Committee asking them to consider reinstating him; the Executive Committee dismissed the application. In this matter, the applicant seeks to appeal the decision of the Executive Committee to the Divisional Court.

A preliminary matter is that the applicant required leave from a Superior Court judge to commence any proceedings because there is a vexatious litigant order against him. The College argued the proposed appeal is an abuse of process because no appeal lies from a decision of the Executive Committee of the College to the Divisional Court. The Court agreed noting that the Divisional Court is a branch of the Superior Court of Justice and as a statutory court, jurisdiction must be found in a statute. In this case, the Courts of Justice Act does not provide an appeal route. The Court held the proposed appeal is on its face an abuse of process because there is no jurisdiction. Even if a statutory appeal were available, the Court noted that leave would not be granted. At paragraphs 49 and 50, the Court held:

49     Leaving aside the jurisdictional issue, there are many reasons why the proposed appeal would be manifestly unfair and contrary to the interests of justice. The bottom line, however, is that Mr. Riad’s conduct disentitles him from using the litigation process. He has lied to multiple courts, including on this application, about the discipline status of Mr. Weisman. He placed a certificate of pending litigation on property through the use of subterfuge and misled a judge and a master about what he was doing. He has failed to pay multiple costs orders. He has victimized litigants and counsel.

50     Furthermore, and as I detail below, Mr. Riad still has an application pending before the Discipline Committee of the College. If Mr. Riad were a normal litigant it might still be an abuse of process to allow an appeal (if jurisdiction existed) where there was a pending application. But Mr. Riad is not a normal litigant. The “totality of the circumstances” would, undoubtedly, still militate against granting leave. I have taken pains to outline Mr. Riad’s litigation history. That history makes it likely that almost any proceeding he proposed would be without merit.

In addition to finding the proposed proceeding an abuse of process, the Court also held there were no reasonable grounds for it. The Court held that the decision of the Executive Committee was a discretionary one and that the applicant would be “very hard pressed to show that the decision on its face did not meet [the reasonableness] standard.”

The Court dismissed the applicant’s application for leave to start a proceeding in the Superior Court and also ordered that he may not file any materials with the Court in the Toronto Region without the specific written permission of the Regional Senior Justice.

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