Case Summary: Levesque v. Nova Scotia College of Optometrists
Levesque v. Nova Scotia College of Optometrists, 2014 NSSC 22, dismissing judicial review and upholding decision to refer complaint to Hearing Committee.
An optometrist challenged his College’s decision to refer a complaint to the Hearing Committee. The optometrist alleged that the referral decision was unreasonable and unfair because the College had not disclosed an expert opinion and allowed him to respond as part of its investigation.
The Court determined that the decision whether to dismiss a complaint or refer it to a hearing did not attract a high level of procedural fairness and that the failure to disclose the opinion at the investigation stage was not a breach of procedural fairness. The Court also determined that in order to challenge a decision to refer a complaint to a hearing, it must be established that there was no reasonable basis on the law or the evidence to refer the complaint to a discipline hearing. In this case, the College had not acted unreasonably.
Comment: Levesque demonstrates the limited rights of procedural fairness at the investigation stage. Fairness does not require that the investigated member receive all information collected during the investigation before a matter can be referred to a hearing. Once the matter has been referred then fairness will require fulsome disclosure.