Case Summary: Ho v. Alberta Association of Architects
Perspectives for the Professions
Ho v. Alberta Association of Architects, 2015 ABCA 68, dismissing an appeal from a decision upholding findings of discipline.
An architect was found guilty of professional misconduct. His appeal to the Council for the Alberta Association of Architects (“AAA”) was dismissed and he appealed again to the Alberta Court of Appeal. The architect argued, in part, that an allegation dealing with conduct preceding his registration with the AAA should be dismissed as it had no jurisdiction over him at the time.
The record revealed that the architect had completed plans, drawings, specifications and other work and received compensation before becoming a registered member of the AAA. The record also showed that the architect then applied and was registered with the AAA and continued work on the same project. After becoming registered in Alberta differences arose and the architect demanded to be paid a further $50,000, then $200,000 for what he asserted was copyright in his work.
The Court held the architect’s conduct before registration was “braided” with his conduct that occurred after registration and was addressed in another allegation of professional misconduct. The Court explained that the allegations could be read together. Regulators must word allegations so members can fairly respond, but the wording need not satisfy highly technical legal requirements. The Court said that a regulator might err by creating a standalone allegation that is unsupportable for jurisdictional reasons but the allegation will not fail if it can be read as particularizing another allegation which is properly within the tribunal’s jurisdiction.
Comment: In Ho the Court was careful to say that the pre and post-registration conduct was intertwined so it was not dealing with a purely retrospective application of the discipline process. The decision should be limited to its specific facts for that reason. The case is useful for its comment that regulatory allegations need not satisfy highly technical requirements. Allegations may be read together where they may be unsupportable on their own.