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Society of Management Accountants of Saskatchewan v. Ostoforoff, 2005 SKQB 317

2005-07-18

 

 

                  QUEEN’S BENCH FOR SASKATCHEWAN

   Citation: 2005 SKQB 317

Date:                            20050718

Docket:                        Q.B.G. No. 872/05

Q.B.G. No. 873/05        

Judicial Centre:   Saskatoon                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                                 

 

IN THE MATTER OF

THE CERTIFIED MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTANTS ACT (Not Proclaimed)

 AND IN THE MATTER OFTHE DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE, HEARING, DECISION AND PENALTY RELATING TO JOHN OSTOFOROFF

   AND THE COMPLAINANT MARIO BOISVERT

 

 

THE SOCIETY OF MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTANTS OF SASKATCHEWAN

      APPLICANT

 

                                                                     - and -

 

JOHN OSTOFOROFF           

  RESPONDENT

                                                                                                                                           

IN THE MATTER OF

THE CERTIFIED MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTANTS ACT (Not Proclaimed)

 AND IN THE MATTER OF THE DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE, HEARING, DECISION AND PENALTY RELATING TO JOHN OSTOFOROFF

   AND THE COMPLAINANT RICHARD COUTURE

 

THE SOCIETY OF MANAGEMENT ACCOUNTANTS OF SASKATCHEWAN

      APPLICANT

 

                                                                     - and -

 

JOHN OSTOFOROFF           

            RESPONDENT

Counsel:

W. R. Waller                                                                                     for the applicant

R. T. Klein                                                                                                for the respondent


                                                                                                                                         

 

JUDGMENT                                                                                         KRUEGER J.

July 18,  2005                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                         

 

[1]                                      The discipline committee of the appellant, Society of Management Accountants, on September 20, 2004, suspended the respondent, John Ostoforoff, a practicing member of that Society, following two separate discipline hearings. On October 19, 2004, the respondent appealed the discipline committee decisions and penalty to the Society’s council pursuant to Bylaw 8.09. Before those appeals could be heard counsel on behalf of the respondent served, on May 20, 2005,  Notices of Appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench from the decisions of the disciplinary committee. The current applications by the appellant Society seek an order directing that before an appeal can be heard in the Court of Queen’s Bench, the council of the Society, pursuant to Bylaw 8.09, must determine the respondent’s appeals filed with it on October 19, 2004. The applications are identical. What applies to one also applies to the other.

 

                                                      ISSUE

 

[2]                                      At issue is the proper appeal procedure to be followed after a decision of the discipline committee has been rendered in light of both the Act passed by the legislature and the bylaws passed by the Society. In reaching a conclusion regard must be had for the authority granted to both the council and the discipline committee and to the right of the council to delegate its authority in whole or in part.

 

 


                                                   ANALYSIS

 

[3]                                       Two well-prepared briefs were filed, supplemented by excellent arguments on behalf of the parties. It is necessary to first consider the authority granted to the Society pursuant to The Management Accountants Act, R.S.S. 1978, c.  I-3.

 

[4]                                       The Act directs in s. 7 that the business of the Society is to be managed by a council consisting of not less than ten of its members. The council makes the Society bylaws (s. 12) and has jurisdiction to hear and determine any complaint made against a member of the Society for a violation of the Act or bylaws (s. 24(1)). Section 24(9) of the Act provides:

The council may make rules for regulating the making of complaints  and the hearing and determination of matters of complaint under the disciplinary provisions of this Act.

 

[5]                                      Section 26(1) of the Act allows the council to delegate disciplinary powers to a discipline committee:

The society may by bylaw provide that all or any of the disciplinary powers of the council may be exercised by a committee to be known as the “disciplinary committee” and in such case the disciplinary committee shall have and exercise all powers conferred on it by the bylaws of the society.

[Emphasis added]                 

 

Bylaw number 8 creates a discipline committee consisting of not more than ten members, none of whom may be members of the council. It also confers certain powers on the discipline committee.  

 

[6]                                      Bylaw number 8.06 sets out the powers conferred on the discipline committee. It states:


After the hearing, the Panel, by majority vote, shall make a decision to either dismiss the Statement of Complaint, or to confirm the Statement of Complaint, in whole or in part, by finding the current or former member or student:        

(a) is incompetent,

(b) has committed professional misconduct,

(c) has contravened the Act, Bylaws or Code of Ethics, or

(d) any combination of the foregoing, and the panel should include in its decision its reasons therefore. If the Statement of Complaint is confirmed, in whole or in part, the Panel is authorized to make any order in accordance with Section 24 of the Act. The Panel may include in its order its reasons therefore.

 

[7]                                      Pursuant to s. 24(2) of the Act, the discipline committee may reprimand, censure, fine, suspend or expel any member as it deems just. Accordingly, the discipline committee in addition to conducting the hearing and making a determination pursuant to the bylaws is authorized to impose any of the sanctions provided for in the Act.

 

[8]                                      Any person subject to a decision and/or penalty of the discipline committee has a right of appeal. Under bylaw number 8.09 that person may within 30 days of the panel’s (discipline committee) decision and order appeal in writing the decision and order to the council. This right of appeal at first blush appears to be at odds with s. 27 of the Act, which reads:

Any person fined, suspended or expelled or whose name has been erased from the register may, within six months after the date of the order of the council, appeal to a judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench for such relief as the nature of the case may require, and the judge to whom the appeal has been taken shall, after due notice to all parties concerned, hear the appeal and make such order as to the restoration of the name of the appellant, or confirming the fine, suspension or expulsion or for further inquiries into the facts of the case by the council, and as to costs as shall be just.

[Emphasis added]

 

[9]                                      It is the position of counsel for the respondent that by virtue of bylaw number 8.06 council has delegated all of its disciplinary powers to the discipline committee. There is nothing left for the council to do. The proper venue, according to the respondent, for hearing any appeal is the Court of Queen’s Bench pursuant to s. 27 of the Act. The decision of the discipline committee to suspend the respondent, it was argued, was, in fact, the decision of council as delegated to the discipline committee. Had the legislature intended appeals to be heard by the council of the Society, it would have conferred that authority on the council by the terms of the Act. The Registered Psychiatric Nurses Act, S.S. 1993, c. R.-13.1, The Dental Disciplines Act, , S.S. 1997, c. D-4.1, and The Psychologists Act, 1997, S.S. 1997, c. P-36.01, were pointed to as examples of Acts regulating self-governing bodies where the appeal power is actually conferred on the council by the Act. Pursuant to s. 27 of The Management Accountants Act the appeal is to the Court of Queen’s Bench.

 

[10]                                 Counsel for the applicant Society, on the other hand, argued that the proper review process of a decision and order by the discipline committee is first to the council and thereafter to the Court of Queen’s Bench. Such an interpretation, it was suggested, fulfils both the statutory and the bylaw schemes.

 


[11]                                 Extremely broad discretion is given to the council by s. 24(9) of the Act in the development of an overall disciplinary process. Section 27 grants a right of appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench from some, but not all, orders made pursuant to s. 24(2). For example, s. 27 makes no provision for an appeal from a reprimand or a censure; it deals with the more serious penalties; i.e., fines, suspensions, and expulsions. Because of its somewhat limited scope, s. 27 must be read to give the fullest effect to the bylaws. In my view, the disciplinary process commences with the disciplinary hearing and continues through the appeal process by the council. The right of appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench arises, if at all, only when the appeal to council is finalized and its decision has been rendered. The disciplinary process as contemplated by s. 24(9) and the appeal as provided for in s. 27 of the Act do not produce an automatic right of appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench once the discipline committee decision is rendered.

 

[12]                                 A process that involves a decision by a disciplinary committee and a subsequent review by the council of the same society or association, it was argued by the respondent, is a double review by the same body. In such circumstances the council is functus officio. In support of that contention, counsel for the respondent cited Chandler et al v. Alberta Association of Architects et al, 1989 41 (SCC), [1989] 2 S.C.R. 848, 62 D.L.R. (4th) 577. The functus principle means that once a tribunal has reached a final decision, the decision cannot be revisited simply because the tribunal has changed its mind. In my view, functus officio does not apply here. The discipline committee and the council are two separate decision-making bodies. Although both come from the Society, they consist of different members with different responsibilities. On an appeal pursuant to bylaw 8.09, the council is not considering one of its own decisions, rather it is performing a review function within the overall disciplinary process.

 

[13]                                 Section 24(3) of the Act states:

A member suspended or expelled may be reinstated and all his rights and privileges as a member restored in such manner and upon such terms and conditions as the council deems just.

 


In Chandler, supra, Sopinka J., writing for the majority, stated that the principle of functus officio should not be strictly applied where there are indications in the enabling statute that a decision can be reopened to enable the tribunal to discharge a function committed to it in the legislation (para. 78). Clearly s. 24(3) envisions a reopening of a decision relating to a suspension or expulsion of a member. The functus principle is not applicable in my view.

 

                                    CONCLUSION

 

[14]                                 The disciplinary process adopted by the appellant Society of having the initial decision rendered by the discipline committee with an appeal to the council is valid. The discipline process is not completed until the council has, when requested to do so by the member, adjudicated on the discipline committee’s decision. No appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench is available to a member until the appeal to the council has been completed. Because the respondent was suspended by the discipline committee, he has a right of appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench should he elect to exercise that right. His appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench is, however, stayed pending the hearing of his appeal by the council.

 

[15]                                 Once The Certified Management Accountants Act is proclaimed the appeal procedure will become clear. This application was made necessary because of the apparent conflict between the Act and the bylaws. Neither party spoke to costs and in the circumstances no costs are being awarded.

 

 

 

__________________________________

D. K. KRUEGER


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