More Guidance on Awarding Costs at Discipline

The Ontario Divisional Court provided additional guidance on the awarding of costs by a discipline tribunal. In Robinson v College of Early Childhood Educators, 2018 ONSC 6150,, the practitioner was found guilty of having abused a child. The panel ordered the practitioner to pay $257,000 in costs which was more than five times his salary when he was fully employed. The practitioner challenged the authority of the tribunal to award costs on a technical argument related to the failure to provide a process in the tribunal’s rules of procedure and the intersection of the enabling statute with the provisions of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act. The Court found the tribunal’s interpretation of its provisions was reasonable even though another regulator had interpreted similar provisions differently.

The Court made non-binding observations however, that the awarding of costs could have a chilling effect on practitioners facing discipline where the tribunal adopted a policy of awarding costs in every case in which a finding was made. The Court would also be concerned if the regulator sent mixed signals as to whether costs would only be awarded where the practitioner acted unreasonably, but then proceeded to award costs where the practitioner’s defence was acknowledged to have been diligent and appropriate.

In this case, however, the costs order was upheld.

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