Proving Contempt of Court on Circumstantial Evidence

Establishing unauthorized practice can be difficult as many clients are happy to receive the service or, at the very least, are reluctant to testify about it. Sometimes only circumstantial evidence is available.

In College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia v Chik, 2019 BCSC 1135, <> an unregistered person was subject to a restraining order prohibiting them from practising traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) or acupuncture. The regulator placed the person under surveillance. He was observed going into a number of private residences with a black bag and leaving after a period of time consistent with providing treatment. Five months later a search warrant was obtained and a significant quantity of acupuncture and TCM supplies were found in the black bag and at the person’s residence. While the Court concluded that the person was probably practising TCM and acupuncture contrary to the restraining order, this had not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt (as required to prove even a civil contempt of court).

The challenges of obtaining evidence for unauthorized practice are not to be underestimated.

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