Case Deals with Hot Topics in Discipline – Part 1

The case of Reid v College of Chiropractors of Ontario, 2016 ONSC 1041 (CanLII), http://canlii.ca/t/gs27k involved a chiropractor who made inappropriate and harassing comments to the complainant (another chiropractor) and failed to adequately cooperate with the College’s investigation of the complaints. The case is notable because it touches on a number of “hot topics” in discipline. While some questions are clarified by this decision, others remain unsettled:

No bias on the part of discipline panel member who sat on previous panel involving the same member: Many regulators (particularly in smaller professions) face challenges when appointing discipline panels: quorum and composition have to be met and a reasonable apprehension of bias must be avoided. In this case, the member argued that a panel member’s participation in an earlier hearing involving the same member gave rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias. The Court disagreed and confirmed that “past participation by a Panel member in a matter does not amount to a valid concern about bias when the earlier hearing involved an Agreed Statement of Facts and no findings of credibility.”

College has authority to compel member’s cooperation in investigations: The Court noted that the Health Professions Procedural Code does not require a member to respond to a complaint; the language is permissive. However, the College in this case also had a written standard of practice setting out an expectation that members must cooperate with the College and its committees when reasonable requests for information are made. The letters written to the member in this case had also specifically requested a response to the complaints. In these circumstances, the Court held that the College had the authority to require a response from the member and the member’s failure to cooperate amounted to professional misconduct.

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