Voluntary Associations Governed by Procedural Fairness Too

It is a popular misconception that an organization has to be exercising a statutory power to be subject to judicial review. The courts have held that voluntary associations serving a significant public purpose are also subject to the administrative law rules of procedural fairness. This principle was demonstrated recently in Gymnopoulos v. Ontario Assn. of Basketball Officials, 2016 ONSC 1525 where coaches of a school basketball team became irate at the officials after losing a lead in the last 90 seconds of a playoff game as a result of six fouls called against them. The resulting disciplinary suspension of the coaches from basketball was set aside by the court because of a cumulative series of procedural errors including lack of formal notice of the allegations, incomplete disclosure of evidence, limited participation in the hearing process and an absence of reasons to explain the disparate sanctions imposed. The Court heard the case even though the suspensions were largely over. Voluntary associations need to follow a fair procedure when dealing with disciplinary issues.

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