Ontario Civil

Administrative Law

Duty to act fairly
Imposition of sanctions on basketball officials set aside

CG was voluntary head coach of high school basketball team while JG and N were voluntary assistant coaches. Association was voluntary not-for-profit organization for basketball officials in province. CG and JG were members of association in their capacity as officials. Team coached by CG, JG, and N lost playoff game in final seconds, resulting in team’s elimination from playoffs. CG, JG, and N blamed referees for calling disproportionate number of penalties against team in last 90 seconds of game. Committee of association conducted hearing by conference call after providing CG, JG, and N with copies of reports from game officials but not initial complaint. N and official H were not able to participate. Committee considered information from H that had not been disclosed. Association imposed sanctions on CG, JG, and N based on committee’s findings. CG and JG appealed, and all sanction periods were reduced by one-half. CG, JG, and N nonetheless brought application for judicial review. Application granted. Association’s decision imposing sanctions on CG, JG, and N was set aside. Association’s disciplinary procedure had to afford CG, JG, and N natural justice and procedural fairness in order to be valid. Authorities indicated proceedings that involved loss of person’s ability to earn income attracted highest level of fairness. In case of CG and JG, sanctions deprived them of opportunity to earn income by officiating basketball games for significant periods of time. Association’s notice of hearing had not communicated seriousness of matter. Even minutes of conference call did not indicate that seriousness of matter had been communicated. N had not received notice of hearing directly. CG, JG, and N had never been provided with initial complaint or full contents of one report. Proceeding with hearing in absence of N and H was inappropriate, as was reliance on undisclosed oral statement of H. CG had not been given notice that Twitter postings would be considered, and they were mischaracterized as occurring over several days rather than just one. No explanation was provided as to how length of sanctions was arrived at. Given seriousness of some of these errors, appellate process was not sufficient to cure procedural defects in original hearing.

Gymnopoulos v. Ontario Assn. of Basketball Officials (March 2, 2016, Ont. S.C.J., L. Bird J., DC-15-898-00) 264 A.C.W.S. (3d) 281.

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