No Need to Inquire into Language Proficiency of Legal Representatives

After a discipline hearing imposing sanctions on a veterinarian, he appealed on the basis that he did not have a fair hearing because his paralegal representative was not proficient in English. In Aziz v College of Veterinarians of Ontario, 2017 ONSC 2746, the Divisional Court rejected the argument saying:

The Appellant has provided no jurisprudence to suggest that where counsel appears before a Tribunal or Court lacking in proficiency in one of the two official languages, that the Court or Tribunal has an obligation to enquire as to whether counsel requires the assistance of an interpreter. This, frankly, is a matter of common sense, as the Court and/or Tribunal is entitled to take judicial notice of the fact that a lawyer and/or paralegal licensee is obliged, pursuant to their governing statutes, to be proficient in one or other of the official languages.

The Court also dismissed the argument that the member was prejudiced by not having a formal witness list provided. There was no statutory requirement to provide a witness list and it was obvious from the notice of hearing that the person was a key College witness. Disclosure of what the witness would say had been provided. In any event, the panel accommodated the member by giving him time after the examination in chief to prepare for the cross-examination of the witness.

The Court also rejected the argument that findings under multiple heads of professional misconduct constituted double jeopardy. Each heading of misconduct had a separate basis for a finding.

The Court also upheld a four month suspension and terms and conditions for obstructing the investigation and for being convicted criminally for assaulting two of his female staff. The Court upheld this as reasonable as follows:

The findings of fact made by the Committee go directly to his suitability to practise veterinary medicine. They also call into question the public interest in ensuring that women, whether they be employees or members of the public, are adequately protected. The various issues that came before the Committee called into question the Appellant’s honesty, integrity, as well as his governability.

The Court also upheld a costs order at discipline of $94,000 in part because prosecuting counsel kept the member aware of the costs as they escalated, much of the length of the legal proceeding was attributed to the conduct of member’s counsel and because no persuasive evidence was tendered as to the inability of the member to pay the costs.

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