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ADMINISTRATIVE LAW | SPPA / Fairness (Administrative)

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Statutory Powers Procedure Act (Ontario)(SPPA)
Legal Guide

Chapter 5 - General SPPA Rules: Summary Proceedings

  1. Overview
  2. General Summary Jurisdiction
  3. S.25.1 Tribunal Rule-Making Authority

1. Overview

Most legal adjudication processes, such as civil court trials, have evolved procedures to deal with situations where a full hearing is unwarranted. These situations can include those where a party is in "default" (ie. has failed to participate in the process or to respond to initiating documentation), where available legal procedures are being abused ("abuse of process"; "frivolous and vexatious litigants"), where the tribunal lacks jurisdiction to consider the matters before it, and others.

2. General Summary Jurisdiction

The SPPA does not expressly provide for any general summary jurisdiction in tribunals which it governs, but it does grant such tribunals a general discretion to "make such orders or give such directions in proceedings before it as it considers proper to prevent abuse of its processes" [SPPA s.23(1)]. This power is designed more for nuisance or bad faith behaviour situations than for situations which legitimately require something less than the full hearing procedure, but it might conceivably be applied in some such situations.

A further broad authority exists for SPPA-governed tribunals to make "orders with respect to the procedures and practices that apply in any particular proceeding" [SPPA s.25.0.1]. It is in this section that any general summary procedure authority for SPPA-tribunals could be more comfortably located.

Both of these source of jurisdiction are broad in their remedial authority and will likely be interpreted broadly by a reviewing court, provided that the tribunal has exercised them in a considerate and restrained manner. In a proper case they could be used to dismiss or abbreviate a proceeding.

3. S.25.1 Tribunal Rule-Making Authority

Section 2 above deals with general SPPA powers that might be applied in a 'summary' fashion. However the SPPA also delegates some specific rule-making powers to the tribunals which are summary in nature [SPPA s.25.1].

These powers allow tribunals to make rules over (1) decisions not to process documents commencing a proceeding (see Ch.19: "Tribunal Rule-Making Authorities: Tribunal Refusal to Process") [SPPA s.4.5] and (2) summary dismissal of proceedings for cause (see Ch.20: "Tribunal Rule-Making Authority: Summary Dismissal for Cause") [SPPA s.4.6].


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