In its recent decision in Truman v Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario, 2016 ONSC 472 the Ontario Divisional Court applied a reasonableness standard of review to a decision from the Discipline Committee of the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario (the “Discipline Committee”). This case also confirmed that the Divisional Court has the jurisdiction to award costs to the appellants of a Discipline Committee hearing.
The Professional Engineers Act, RSO 1990, c P.28 (the “Act”) stipulates that complaints against professional engineers are investigated by a Complaints Committee. The Complaints Committee investigates and then decides whether to refer the matter to the Discipline Committee. Allegations are articulated by the Complaints Committee, and where the Complainants Committee deems appropriate, referred to the Discipline Committee. In this case, the appellants appealed the Discipline Committee’s decision to refuse them costs of the Discipline Committee hearing.
The parties agreed, and the court accepted, that the standard of review to be applied in this case was reasonableness. The court determined that the Discipline Committee’s decision to deny the appellants costs was unreasonable because the decision drew “a conclusion without providing any justification for the conclusion reached.” The court then went on to consider whether it had the jurisdiction to award costs to the appellants. As section 31(3) of the Act allows the court to “exercise all powers of the committee” the court concluded it had jurisdiction to award costs to the appellants, and issued an award of $21,000 for the hearing as well as $5,000 for the proceeding before the Divisional Court.