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ADMINISTRATIVE LAW | SPPA / Fairness (Administrative)

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Statutory Powers Procedure Act (Ontario)(SPPA)
Legal Guide

Chapter 17 - Tribunal Rule-Making Authority: Review of Orders
(15 July 2020)

It is common in administrative law regimes for tribunals to have authority to review or reconsider their decisions. The range of such review can be minor - as in the case of review for calculation or typographical errors - or major, in the sense of a full legal and fact-finding review of the decision and order made at hearing.

An SPPA-governed tribunal may make s.25.1 rules on the review of their orders. If that is done it may - within a reasonable time - "review all or part of its own decision or order, and may confirm, vary, suspend or cancel the decision or order" [SPPA s.21.2(1)(2)].
Case Note: Floria v. Toronto Police Service
In Floria v. Toronto Police Service (Div Ct, 2021) the Divisional Court considered the doctrine of functus officio in an administrative context:
[28] It is important to understand the context in Stanley [Stanley v. Office of the Independent Police Review Director, 2020 ONCA 252]. Under the common law, a tribunal that has reached a final decision is functus officio, subject to certain exceptions (at para. 46). Absent the power granted in s. 21.2(1) of the SPPA [SS: tribunal may reconsideration rules], the OPIRD would not have the authority to reopen a decision. Given that there were no rules allowing reconsideration at the time of the decision, the OPIRD had no power to reconsider.
Case Note: Barnes v Ontario (Social Benefits Tribunal)
In Barnes v Ontario (Social Benefits Tribunal) [2008] QL #3096 (Ont Div Ct) [argued unsuccessfully by the author] the applicant for judicial review originally won a Tribunal appeal of their eligibility for ODSP income support. The Tribunal then - without issued reasons - granted the reconsideration request of the respondent ODSP Director and ordered a re-hearing, which decision effectively quashed the earlier appeal win. The applicant sought judicial review on the basis that natural justice required issued reasons, without which the reconsideration proceeding was practically unappealable and lacked any corrective function. The case was analyzed under the principles established in the leading Supreme Court of Canada case of Baker v Canada (SCC, 1999) and [as discussed in Ch.1, s.5: "Tribunals and Their Rules: Natural Justice and Fairness"] was dismissed by the court in part on the basis that the decision to conduct a reconsideration hearing was of no importance to the applicant, and that the effective quashing of the earlier appeal win was not analogous to an appellate court function and thus did not attract a high level of natural justice protection.

Further, the court held that there was no duty under s.17 of the SPPA to provide reasons as the decision to conduct a reconsideration hearing was not a "final order" within the meaning of that provision. On the same basis it held that the application for judicial review was premature.


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