Administrative Tribunals

From Criminal Law Notebook

General Principles

An administrative tribunal is an adjudicative body that determine complaints brought within various fields of specialization.

A tribunal will get its powers from the "express language" of the legislation that creates it.[1]

Rules of Procedure and Evidence

The rules of procedure and evidence are set by the provincial government. Some provinces have unified legislation covering administrative bodies of all types within the province. [2] Additional rules will be enacted through other legislation and regulations germane to the field.

Procedural Fairness and Natural Justice

All administrative tribunals are bound by common law duties of "natural justice" and "procedural fairness."

What constitutes "procedural fairness" will vary on the context of each case.[3]


Any party whose interest or rights are affected by the decison may potentially have standing.[4]

  1. Newfoundland Telephone Co. v. Newfoundland (Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities), [1992] S.C.J. No. 21 at para. 17
  2. Examples include
    AB: Administrative Procedure and Jurisdiction Act, RSA 2000, c. A-3.
    BC: Administrative Tribunals Act, S.B.C. 2004, c. 45.
    ON: Statutory Powers Procedure Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. S.22.
    QC: An Act Respecting Administrative Justice, CQLR c. J-3.
  3. Baker v Canada (Minister of Immigration and Citizenship), [1999] SCJ 39
  4. Corp. of the Canadian Civil Liberties Assn. v. Ontario (Civilian Commission on Police Services), [2006] O.J. No. 4699 at para. 8

Power Over Process

A tribunal has a common law power over it's own process.[1]

In certain jurisdictions, this common law power is codified.[2]

  1. Roman Volfson v. Olga Shuster, 2003 ONFSCDRS 120 (CanLII)
    Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District v. Director, Environmental Management Act, 2016 BCEAB 17 (CanLII), at para 25
    Kane v. University of British Columbia, [1980] 1 S.C.R. 1105
    Innisfil (Township) v. Vespra (Township), [1981] 2 S.C.R. 145
    Knight v. Indian Head School Division No. 19, [1990] 1 S.C.R. 653
    Baker v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [1999] 2 S.C.R. 817
  2. e.g. Statutory Powers Procedure Act, ss. 23.1 and 25.0.1(a) see Volfson ("This codifies the common law principle that tribunals have power to make rules governing practice and procedure and to make procedural orders in any particular proceeding")
    e.g. Administrative Tribunals Act, SBC 2004, c 45, <>, The Administrative Tribunal Jurisdiction Act, SM 2021, c 28, <>


Under the Ontario SPPA, s. 7, a tribunal is entitled to proceed with a hearing in the absence of the respondent.[1] Where there has been suitable notice and there was public interest to proceed in their absence, the tribunal may continue.[2]

  1. Chin Yong Ahn v. 4900 Bathurst Street Ltd, 2014 ONSC 7325 (CanLII), <
  2. Ontario (College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario) v. Deep, 2010 ONCPSD 20 (CanLII)
    Ontario (College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario) v. Marcin, 2019 ONCPSD 4 (CanLII)


Administrative Tribunals often are not bound by the same rules of evidence as a proper court.[1]

There is some authority that even in the absence of specific exemptions from the rules of evidence, an administrative tribunal may still not be bound by a given rule of evidence.[2]

Depending on whether the tribunal applies federal or provincial law, the evidence may be subject to either the federal Canada Evidence Act or one of the provincial Evidence Acts.[3] In most circumstances the tribunal will be included in the Act's definition of "court."

  1. {{CanLIIRC|Maitland Capital Ltd. v. Alberta (Securities Commission)|23l5v|2009 ABCA 186 (CanLII), at para 9 Relies on s. 9 of securities Act to say hearsay rules do not apply.
  2. R v Canadian Recording Industry Association v. Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, 2010 FCA 322 (CanLII) per JA , at paras 20 to 21
  3. NS: Evidence Act, RSNS 1989, c 154, <>
    ON: Evidence Act, RSO 1990, c E.23, <>

See Also