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ADMINISTRATIVE LAW | SPPA / Fairness (Administrative)

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Statutory Powers Procedure Act (Ontario)(SPPA)
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Chapter 5 - General SPPA Rules: Abuse of Process

  1. Overview
  2. Related SPPA Provisions

1. Overview

"A tribunal may make such orders or give such directions in proceedings before it as it considers proper to prevent abuse of its processes" [SPPA 23(1)].

This is the statutory adoption of a now-extensive common law doctrine, which is subject of it's own Isthatlegal topic: Abuse of Process. While this SPPA provision [s.23(1)] applies only to SPPA-governed administrative proceedings, the doctrine has been adopted in practically all legal fields - administrative, civil, criminal and otherwise. It is hugely variable and growing daily. No litigant - professional or otherwise - should be without a working knowledge of this broad doctrine.

I have compiled (and continue to compile) cases where 'abuse of process' is applied in the administrative context [Abuse of Process - Administrative], but if you are involved with a possible doctrinal breach you should canvass all fields for similar fact patterns that may provide useful precedents.

2. Related SPPA Provisions

The doctrine of 'abuse of process' has grown dramatically in the recent past, so much so that I think it certain that when s.23(1) SPPA was first legislated it's meaning was more humble that now. One indication of what that 'first' SPPA meaning was is the 'company it keeps' - ie. s.23(2) ['Limitation on examination'] and 23(3) ['Exclusion of representative'].

Today, these unrelated provisions [SPPA 23(2-3)] are odd company to the now-dominant doctrine that 'abuse of process' has become. 'Limitation of examination' [SPPA 23(2)] is essential a nuisance authority to caution against excessive cross-examination, and 'exclusion of representatives' [SPPA 23(3)] is a similarly-nuisance optional authority to bar against incompetent lay representatives.

That these two 'miscellaneous' (and only remotely-related) provisions exist (and still exist) tells us more about what s.23(1) 'used to mean'. That I think can fairly be summarized as being miscellaneous 'nuisance' provisions. At most, they could qualify as 'examples' of abuses of process when they occur, but only that - since the doctrine extends now to hundreds of problematic (ie. 'abusive') procedural (ie. 'process') situations.


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