Registrants Should Not Benefit from Obstructing Investigations

If a registrant faces a serious allegation, should they be able to achieve a reduced sanction by obstructing the investigation? In Chimistes (Ordre professionnel des) c. Cozak, 2022 QCTP 46 (CanLII) a Quebec court said “no”.

Mr. Cozak, a registered chemist, faced several criminal charges related to the illegal production of the illicit drug, Ecstasy. For various reasons (e.g., delay), he was never convicted. The registrant failed to cooperate with the regulator’s investigation into his conduct. As a result, a disciplinary case on the merits could not be proven. The registrant was disciplined for not cooperating with the investigation and was suspended for four months. On appeal by the regulator, the Court imposed revocation and made the point that cooperating with the regulator was a fundamental obligation of regulated professionals. The public interest, including maintaining public confidence in the regulation of the professions, was put at risk by failing to cooperate. Obstruction goes to the heart of the regulation of the profession. The Court was concerned that if the sanction did not reflect the seriousness of the allegations being investigated, other registrants would be tempted to adopt the same strategy as Mr. Cozak. The Court directed that his registration be revoked.

Thus, the seriousness of the sanction for non-cooperation should take into account the sanction that would have been imposed if the allegations under investigation had been established.

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