A thoroughbred racehorse owner appealed his racetrack suspension to the respondent, Ontario Racing Commission (“ORC”), and requested that they intervene and restore his privileges.

[2011] O.J. No. 3262

2011 ONSC 4271

Ontario Superior Court of Justice

P.A. Cumming, J.L. Lax and K.E. Swinton JJ.

July 12, 2011

The applicant applied for judicial review of the decision, challenging it on the grounds that the ORC lacked jurisdiction or had engaged in procedural unfairness, and further that the decision was unreasonable.

On the issues of jurisdiction and procedural fairness, the Court, applying a standard of reasonableness and with reference to the Racing Commission Act, held that WEG, as a private property owner, was within its private property and contractual rights to exclude the applicant from its premises. Under the cited legislation, the ORC has jurisdiction to interfere with WEG’s rights only if the matter relates to the “good of horseracing generally” per the decision in Ontario Harness Horse Association v. Ontario (Racing Commission), 2002 CanLII 41981. The ORC was therefore within its jurisdiction when it concluded that the applicant had breached WEG’s rules. Further, as the ORC was a neutral arbiter between WEG and the applicant, its task was to determine whether WEG’s decision accorded with the public interest. The ORC held that it did only after reviewing the evidence of numerous witnesses, and as such the Court dismissed the applicant’s complaint that he was not afforded procedural fairness.

On the issue of reasonableness, the Court held that the ORC’s detailed and intelligible reasons for its decision indicated that it was not unreasonable for the ORC to conclude that the applicant’s conduct was inappropriate and that the public interest did not warrant interference with WEG’s decision. The Court therefore concluded that the applicant had not discharged his burden and the application for judicial review was dismissed.