What are Regulatory Offences?
Not all law enforcement involves the Criminal Code or the criminal justice system. There are dozens of federal and provincial, and even municipal Acts and Regulations that are penal in nature, such as securities and financial regulation; environmental and hazardous materials legislation; and human rights tribunals.
Most professions and many occupations are subject to oversight by a self-regulating body, such as lawyers, doctors, psychologists, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, immigration consultants, teachers and the list goes on. Even police officers are supervised by their police force and civilian oversight. When a member of one of these professions or organizations is accused of violating the rules or ethical guidelines of their governing body and its statutes, they are subject to disciplinary proceedings.
Such proceedings can have a profound impact on the defendant, often destroying a person’s reputation, career and livelihood, which s/he has spent years or decades building.
There are so many types of regulatory and quasi-criminal legislation that there is a name for this specialized area of law, called “Administrative Law”. Administrative law deals with the interaction between government and individuals in all facets of our economy and society, and fills in gaps which the courts do not have the time, specialized expertise or resources to handle. Even something as mundane as how you fill out a passport application can be subject to quasi-criminal prosecution leading to a prohibition on leaving the country for several years.
Regulatory proceedings are not handled in the same way as criminal cases. For example, the Charter of Rights is not applied in the same way, and rules of evidence are relaxed. The entire process is less precise and more subjective and in some cases political. The people who decide these cases are not judges, but rather tend to be experts in a particular field. Sometimes they make up a panel in which a case is decided by a majority. In some situations, a justice of the peace, who is not a lawyer or expert in the field, will decide the case. It should be carefully noted that unlike courts, with well-defined rules of procedure and evidence, and formal routes for review and appeal, in administrative law cases, the right of appeal is often very limited. The focus is not on the correctness of the result but the fairness of the procedure. In fact, the law is quite clear that in these cases, the decision makers are entitled to be wrong. As long as you were accorded the basic principles of procedural fairness, it does not matter that the tribunal came to the wrong conclusion or imposed an incorrect or overly harsh penalty.
Regulatory and Quasi-Criminal Offences Lawyers GTA
No matter what the body is called, whether it be the Law Society, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, or the Financial Services Tribunal, or who the decision-makers are, your case must be handled with care, because the stakes for you are high and the consequences can be permanent and irreversible.
In such a situation, you need a tough, experienced and thorough defence. At The Defence Group, we bring a great deal of experience and knowledge to your case, whether it be a traffic violation, a disciplinary infraction, or a quasi-criminal prosecution. We have the finesse and specialized advocacy skills to navigate the treacherous waters of administrative law in Ontario and defend your interests to the full extent of the law.