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ADMINISTRATIVE LAW | SPPA / Fairness (Administrative)

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Associations - Justiciability

. Bertrand v. Academic Medical Organization of Southwestern Ontario

In Bertrand v. Academic Medical Organization of Southwestern Ontario (Ont CA, 2024) the Ontario Court of Appeal considered an application by individual medical educators against the cessation of academic funding under the 'AHSC AFP Template Funding Agreement' made between various academic and medical bodies and the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Here the court considers justiciability and unincorporated associations:
[15] In any event, even if the appellants were in effect third party beneficiaries who had a right to enforce the Agreement, the application judge was right to conclude that a court’s review of the discretionary decision of an unincorporated association was limited to whether it acted in accordance with its internal rules, the principles of natural justice, and whether the decision was bona fide. Perell J. summarized the relevant legal principles in Karahalios v. Conservative Party of Canada, 2020 ONSC 3145, at para. 183:
If a significant private law right or interest is involved; for example if a member of the association has been expelled or lost his or her membership status, been deprived of his or her membership privileges, or his or her ability to pursue vocations and avocations associated with the association, the court does not review the merits of the association’s conduct or decision but reviews whether the purported expulsion or loss of membership or of membership privileges was carried out according to the applicable rules of the association and with the principles of natural justice (procedural fairness), and without mala fides. Thus, where there is jurisdiction as a matter of contract and a significant right or interest is engaged, the court may determine: (a) whether the voluntary group or unincorporated association acted in accordance with its rules; (b) whether it acted in accordance with the principles of natural justice; and (c) whether the association’s decision was come to bona fide. [Citations omitted.]
[16] Given the application judge’s finding that AMOSO’s decision-making process – detailed in the respondents’ affidavits and in the minutes of AMOSO’s sub-committee’s meetings – not only met, but exceeded, these requirements, he correctly concluded that it was not open to him to assess the correctness of AMOSO’s decision. In other words, the appellants’ contractual rights were satisfied by the process that AMOSO conducted, regardless of the correctness of the outcome.
. Birhane v. Medhanie Alem Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church

In Birhane v. Medhanie Alem Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church (Ont CA, 2023) the Court of Appeal briefly notes limits of justiciability that apply to associations and churches:
[41] It is true that this court has accepted the general rule that where “the rules of a self-governing organization, especially a religious organization, provide an internal dispute resolution” to a person “who has been aggrieved by a decision of that organization”, that person “must seek redress in the internal procedures of that organization”: Hart v. Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of the Diocese of Kingston, in Canada, 2011 ONCA 728, 344 D.L.R. (4th) 332, at para. 18.


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Last modified: 06-05-24
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