Some practitioners act as adjudicators. What is the role of regulatory bodies when dealing with complaints about practitioners acting in their capacity as an adjudicator? This issue was touched upon, but not fully addressed, in Cuhaci v College of Social Workers (Ontario), 2019 ONSC 1801, <http://canlii.ca/t/hz74q>. Ms. Cuhaci, a social worker, arbitrated a custody dispute. Afterwards, a complaint was made about her conduct. While the screening committee initially indicated it had no role in respect of the actual adjudication, it went on to make some comments suggesting that it may have considered her actions in that capacity. Ultimately the screening committee issued advice about the clarity of the practitioner’s communications, which advice was not confined to the adjudication decision. The practitioner sought judicial review.
The Court held that the application was moot:
The applicant still has a license to practice as a social worker, and there are no conditions or restrictions on her license. She faces no professional jeopardy as a result of the outcome of this complaint.
The Court almost exercised its discretion to hear the matter anyway to clarify the jurisdictional issue, but declined to do so, in part because:
… counsel for the College conceded that the Complaints Committee may have overstepped in this case, and that the College does not have jurisdiction to investigate the decision making process of a social worker engaged in the functions of an arbitrator in the context of family law proceedings. She argued that there may be circumstances that would warrant the College’s intervention, if for example the member had an intimate relationship with one of the parties, but she agreed that the decision making process and the decision itself do not fall within the College’s jurisdiction.
Interestingly, there was also a procedural issue in that the screening committee made its decision without disclosing all of the complainant’s submissions to the practitioner. However, the Court was satisfied that the regulator cured the concern, on the facts of this case at least, by providing the materials after reaching its decision, receiving further submissions from the practitioner, and then rendering an addendum to its decision. In any event, the Court also found this issue to be moot.