Master Robertson

3.68: Court options to deal with significant deficiencies

Case Summary

The Defendant Law Society of Alberta applied to strike the Claim of the Respondents, a former member of the Law Society who had been disbarred (“Ouellette Senior”), and his son (“Ouellette Junior”).

Ouellette Senior alleged bias in several Law Society disciplinary hearings, including the 2016 hearing that resulted in his disbarment and argued that he had a right under Section 7 of the Charter to claim damages. The Law Society in turn argued that Ouellette’s Claim was an abuse of process and a collateral attack on the outcome of the Law Society’s disciplinary processes; further, the Respondents’ Claim should be struck pursuant to Rule 3.68(2)(b) as it disclosed no reasonable claim which would justify the damages sought by the Respondents. The Law Society submitted that if there was bias in the Law Society disciplinary hearing as alleged, the proper remedy was to appeal those decisions according to the process set out by the legislation. With regard to the Claim by Ouellette Junior for damages stemming from lack of parenting as a result of the disciplinary proceedings against his father, the Law Society argued that this claim was too remote and that the Law Society owed no duty of care.

Master Robertson accepted the arguments of the Law Society and, referring to Supreme Court authority, held that an award of damages is not the correct approach to remedy a Charter violation stemming from actions by a regulatory body. Rather, the proper remedy is to set the matter right. Additionally, the correct approach for seeking a remedy for alleged bias by a regulatory body is through the appeal route set out in the legislation. Further, it was impossible to seek damages for a lawyer’s disbarment in the absence of a determination that the disbarment was invalid. As such, Master Robertson held that the Respondents’ Pleading disclosed no reasonable claim in law and was struck.

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