Vexatious Litigants and Harassment of Regulators

Regulatory staff appear to be facing a pandemic of harassment by some of the practitioners that they regulate. Sometimes, but not always, this is accompanied by vexatious litigation. In College of Registered Nurses v. Shannon Hancock, 2022 MBQB 26 (CanLII), the Court considered harassment of regulatory staff, board and committee members as a factor in restraining future litigation by the practitioner.

In that case the practitioner had engaged in numerous proceedings against the regulator and their representatives. The Court considered a number of factors in determining that the litigation was vexatious including: the number of proceedings, their unsuccessful nature, the failure to pay costs, the manner of the litigation (e.g., leaving in the middle of a proceedings, failing to attend proceedings, abandoning a proceeding and commencing another one soon thereafter), making claims that had no reasonable prospect of success, making claims for unrealistic amounts of damages, making apparently spurious allegations against the lawyers for the regulator, and expressing the intent to initiate future litigation. However, of particular interest to regulators may be the following circumstance that was taken into account.

It is also clear that she has proceeded in an abusive, harassing and unacceptable manner against individuals connected to the College. The named defendants in the 2020 action include members of the governing council for the College. These individuals are all volunteers who donate their time and efforts to the work of the College. After naming this group of volunteers as defendants in a legal action and acknowledging the 2020 action was inappropriate, Ms. Hancock continued to harass the members. In April 2021, she managed to track down the private home addresses of these volunteers and deliver packages of materials to their front door. This was unnecessary and unacceptable as she had been involved with the College for years and was aware all correspondences should be directed to the offices of the College.

The Court declared her a vexatious litigant and restricted her ability to continue existing proceedings and initiating new proceedings against the regulator.

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