The HP Accounting case is a discrimination case, which is first heard under the BC Human Rights Tribunal. The party that is discontented with the decision of the Tribunal can apply to the Federal Court for judicial review. The Federal Court plays a supervisory role over the actions of the BC Human Rights Tribunal. Judicial review occurs where an appellant applies to the court for an administrative decision to be reviewed.
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The Federal Court may either uphold the decision of the Tribunal or refer the case back to the Tribunal to be heard again. The parties are allowed to appeal the decision of the Federal Court to the Federal Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court of Canada is the last court of review (Mullan, 2006).
There are two types of judicial review; substantive judicial review and procedural judicial review. Substantive judicial review refers to the determination of a tribunal decision, either on the grounds that the decision was unreasonable or inaccurate or that the tribunal did not have the jurisdiction to decide the issue in a particular manner.
Procedural review, on the other hand, is based on the grounds that the administrative decision made by the tribunal did not comply with procedural fairness. The court tries to analyze the procedure that the tribunal used to reach its decision or how the tribunal treated the appellant during the hearing.
Procedural fairness encompasses two main areas; the right to a hearing and safeguards against bias. The right to a hearing involves issues related to the conduct of the oral hearing, the right to counsel, disclosure, and notice. The rule against bias covers reasonable apprehension of bias and tribunal impartiality and independence (Mullan, 2006).
The accessibility of judicial review is based on the rule of law. All members of the public have a right to judicial review because the applicable principles of law prohibit provincial legislatures and Parliament from denying this right to any citizen. Thus, any party to an administrative decision has a right to the ruling of the court as to whether the administrative authority was in line with appropriate legal principles.
The courts, however, may not follow the law to the end due to the discretionary authority that they enjoy. The courts aim at ensuring effectiveness by rejecting their discretionary power in certain circumstances.
The circumstances include unreasonable delays in the application for judicial review, unjustifiable, moot or hypothetical issues, and availability of alternative remedies, such as the right to reconsideration and the right to appeal. The appeal courts are guided by the ‘reasonableness simpliciter’ standard, which prohibits the court from overturning a tribunal decision unless it is unreasonable.
The Federal Court Act denies the Federal Court the capacity to carry out a judicial review where a statute provides for the right to appeal. Cases decided in the BC Human Rights Tribunal can be appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal before being reviewed by the Supreme Court (Mullan, 2006).
In conclusion, the avenues of appeal of the BC Human Rights Tribunal decision are effective. The Federal Court analyzes issues in an objective manner to decide the reasonableness of the tribunal’s decision. All citizens are entitled to appeal and review of the tribunal decision, meaning that the Federal Court of Appeal is easily accessible. The courts tend to limit their discretionary powers in certain circumstances to promote effectiveness.
Mullan, D. J. (2006). Inside and outside Canadian administrative law essays in honour of David Mullan. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.