Professional Misconduct

Posted by Johannes Schenk on September 28th, 2005 — Posted in Employment Law

Stuart v. British Columbia College of Teachers, 2005 BCSC 645, outlines an approach to challenging and defending the decision of a professional regulatory body to sanction one of its members for professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming.

In this case the sanctioned member had engaged in conduct at the work place that can only be described as erratic and completely inappropriate to the role of teacher. In reading the case it becomes apparent that there was an underlying mental health issue. The regulatory body held that the member’s mental health was irrelevant and failed to consider it as a possible defence or mitigating factor.

The following analysis is made on judicial review:

  • The standard of review to be applied to a finding of professional misconduct is reasonableness simpliciter.
  • The standard of review to be applied to a question of law is correctness: the determination that mental health status was irrelevant was a question of law.
  • The question of professional misconduct should be treated as a strict liability offence and not an absolute liability offence.
  • On the basis of treating the professional misconduct as a strict liability offence the Court did not find it necessary to consider Human Rights and Charter arguments.
  • The conclusion that mental health status was irrelevant was an error in law.
  • The Court, by agreement of counsel, went on to consider the merits of the matter and found that the teacher was incompetent rather than sanction him for professional misconduct.

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