Finality of Referrals to Discipline

What are the options where significant new information is received after a screening committee renders its decision? Where the screening committee determined to take no action, it might not be viewed as a final determination. Either through a fresh complaint or a Registrar’s investigation, the matter can likely be reviewed again: Ferrari v College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Province of Alberta, 2008 ABQB 158,; Houghton v Association of Ontario Land Surveyors, 2020 ONSC 863,

However, can a screening committee reconsider its decision after referring a complaint to discipline? In Stanley v Office of the Independent Police Review Director, 2020 ONCA 252,, Ontario’s highest court said this was not permitted. The principle of finality required that the screening committee not, in effect, withdraw its referral in order to look at new information. That was true even if the new information could have altered the original decision. The matter was now within the hands of the discipline tribunal.

Exceptions are permitted where the legislation creates a route for reconsideration of screening committee referrals to discipline. In fact, amendments to the formal rules relating to police complaints in the Stanley case now permit such reconsideration. However, such a legislative right of reconsideration is rare in most regulatory statutes.

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