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 firefighters douse blaze in hedges

The cause of the fire on Renfrew Road is under investigation.

Kayaker still missing as COSAR continues aerial searches

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

Kelowna Springtime Regatta draws more than 50 sailboats

Sailors treated to windy, excellent long weekend conditions on Okanagan Lake

Crews responding to car crash in West Kelowna

A collision has been reported at the intersection of Carrington Road and Butt Road.

Get those flowers competition ready

Gardeners will come together June 29, for the 22nd Juried Flower Show

Weather holds up for Rutland May Days

60th annual May Day midway, market and entertainment saw hundreds of attendees

Update: Plan to see more smoke from South Okanagan wildfire

Richter Creek wildfire, 12 kilometres west of Osoyoos, is an estimated 400 hectares

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

South Okanagan runners take top spots in Peach City RunFest

Both the top male and female half-marathon winners were from Penticton

Former Greyhound Canada employees gather in Okanagan to say a final farewell

“Greyhound may take our jobs but they will never take our friendships,” says former bus driver

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Okanagan tattoo fundraiser draws tons of support

Lineup around the block in Vernon for start of Five Fathoms Tattoo event for Children’s Hospital

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

Most Read