Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, an Okanagan based-law practice. She has been practicing law since 1994, with brief stints away to begin raising children. Susan has experience in many areas of law, but is most drawn to areas in which she can make a positive difference in people’s lives, including employment law. She has been a member of the Law Society of Alberta since 1994 and a member of the Law Society of British Columbia since 2015. Susan grew up in Saskatchewan. Her parents were both entrepreneurs, and her father was also a union leader who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of workers. Before moving to B.C., Susan practiced law in both Calgary and Fort McMurray, AB. Living and practicing law in Fort McMurray made a lasting impression on Susan. It was in this isolated and unique community that her interest in employment law, and Canada’s oil sands industry, took hold. In 2013, Susan moved to the Okanagan with her family, where she currently resides. photo:contributed

Kootnekoff: What is administrative law?

I am frequently asked this question.

Administrative law is the body of law that governs administrative agencies.

Administrative agencies are involved in virtually every aspect of our lives. Examples include agencies that regulate food and drug products, securities commissions, local building and development and zoning agencies, liquor control boards, self-governing professional bodies, privacy commissioners, employment insurance, human rights tribunals and workers’ compensation boards.

Administrative agencies relieve the burden on our courts. At least in theory, they may also provide people with expeditious, straightforward and inexpensive ways of resolving disputes.

Administrative agencies are often created by and governed by legislation which sets out their powers.

Administrative law can also extend to voluntary organizations such as sports clubs, societies, and religious groups.

Powers of administrative bodies vary widely. Their powers may be purely administrative, or they may include the ability to make their own rules of procedure, adjudicate disputes, and the ability to make their own policies which may or may not have the force of law.

Although it is often possible to engage in the processes of an administrative agency without the need for a lawyer, this is not always wise. This is because the proceeding may still be quite complex, involve highly specialized policies, or have a high degree of formality or a high impact on those involved.

Also, an administrative body that fails to comply with administrative law is at risk of having its decision overturned, through its internal appeal processes or in court. There are various ways of advancing a court challenge. The time frames involved are narrow. Legal knowledge is essential at this stage. A lawyer who is involved early is generally in a much better position to launch a court challenge, should that become necessary, than one who arrives late to the party.

Administrative law is built largely upon the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice which originate from the common law. While these principles may appear to be straightforward at first blush, they have embedded within them a number of further concepts. Essentially, they are largely aimed at encouraging an administrative tribunal to have a fair process.

Many provinces also have administrative law statutes that apply to certain bodies. In B.C., that statute is the Administrative Tribunals Act.

Often, all internal avenues of challenge must first be exhausted before attempting a court challenge. A court challenge is generally either a judicial review or an appeal. Sometimes both may occur. Judicial reviews are different from appeals. Sometimes it will be necessary to take one step but not the other at a particular time.

Both judicial reviews and appeals are highly legalistic proceedings. They involve various complex and somewhat archaic legal concepts which continue to evolve within the law.

In judicial reviews, for example, a long standing theme is the question of the “standard of review.” This essentially refers to the level of scrutiny given by the court. Will the court overturn an administrative tribunal’s decision if the court considers it to not be correct? Or, will it do so only if it is patently unreasonable?

Unfortunately, self represented litigants tend to fare poorly at these stages.

In Canada, while not technically a part of administrative law per se, it is important to remember that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms may apply to the administrative body involved. Whether to make a Charter argument requires a careful assessment, and requires certain steps to be taken at certain times. The law applicable to the Charter is another large, complex and evolving body of law.

In summary, as American judge Antonin Scalia once said, “Administrative law is not for sissies.”

The content of this article is intended to provide very general thoughts and general information, not to provide legal advice. Advice from an experienced legal professional should be sought about your specific circumstances. If you would like to reach us, we may be reached at 250-764-7710 or info@inspirelaw.ca. Check out our website, www.inspirelaw.ca.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelowna man speaks up for limb loss awareness after losing leg

Ralph Zaiser is getting used to life as a recent amputee

Okanagan College names new fundraising director

Helen Jackman will join the college as executive director of the Okanagan College Foundation and director of advancement

Kelowna baby store shops for Mamas for Mamas

Baby & Me donated more than $10,000 worth of supplies to the charity

43 Okanagan College students enter studies with help of government

The B.C. Government’s Provincial Tuition Waiver Program allows young students who were in care access education

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

Allegedly intoxicated man arrested after 3 paramedics attacked at Kamloops hospital

Paramedics had transported the man to Royal Inlands Hospital for medical treatment

B.C., Ottawa talk 50/50 split on abandoned bus-route service

B.C. has paid $2 million on a bus service for the northern part of the province

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

Shuswap woman asks that people stop swiping daffodils from memorial bed

Cynthia Bentley honours memory of those lost to cancer by planting 100 daffodils each year

Okanagan experience for the Blue Man Group

The world tour of the Blue Man Group came to Penticton this week for two shows.

Most Read