Court of Appeal overturns Divisional Court finding of bias against Ontario Racing Commission

The Ontario Court of Appeal has overturned the ruling of the Divisional Court in Austin v. Ontario Racing Commission. The Divisional Court had held that the Ontario Racing Commission, by hearing evidence from lower-level officials known as track judges, had created a reasonable apprehension of bias. On that basis, it quashed the Commission’s decision, overturning Austin’s conviction for providing an improper urine sample. The Court of Appeal later granted leave to appeal the Divisional Court’s decision.

On the appeal, Stockwoods lawyers Brendan Van Niejenhuis and Patti Latimer argued that there was no basis to conclude that the Commission was biased or appeared to be biased, based only on the fact that it had heard evidence from the track judge. Rouleau J.A., on behalf of a unanimous court, accepted Stockwoods’ submissions on behalf of the Commission, overturning the Divisional Court’s ruling and remitting the remaining issues for further argument. Rouleau J.A.’s decision creates an important precedent for regulators and tribunals that must hear evidence from lower-level adjudicators and officials working in the same field.

To read the decision, click here. To learn more about Brendan, click here. To learn more about Patti, click here.