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Canadian Administrative Law and Judicial Review Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jan 24th, 2021

Administrative Standards of Practice

High legal standards are crucial in judicial reviews regarding administrative decisions. A legislative body has the authority to look into a standard of review to determine if it is reasonable and fair as it administers justice. The principle of reasonableness applies in instances where deference to an Immigration Appeal Division (I.A.D) decision is necessary to rule on issues raised by a particular applicant. The Ministry of Immigration v Khosa (2008) highlighted issues regarding administrative reviews of specific tribunal cases brought before the court. Khosa had been charged with a street-racing offense which made IAD rule that he should leave Canada. The judgment for the case seemed to imply that IAD failed to take time to review all issues of the application made by Khosa (Canada v. Khosa, 2009). Therefore, the court had ruled that IAD did not act fairly when it chose to deny the applicant relief from leaving the country.

The case shows the extent to which tribunals set up by acts of legislative bodies can resolve and make decisions regarding various issues brought before them for arbitration. They need to observe the principle of Dunsmuir when they make their rulings to ensure the standards of review they choose to apply are correct and reasonable. The decision to deny Khosa relief was found to be unreasonable and did not effectively address his circumstances. In effect, the application of the law by members of IAD did not focus on key humanitarian issues Khosa had highlighted. However, upon appeal, a higher court set aside the ruling made by the Federal Courts and reinstated the decision made by IAD regarding Khosa’s application. Judges involved in the case argued IAD exercised its judicial mandate as required by the law. Therefore, they argued the Federal Court’s ruling failed to follow the law as stipulated by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada v. Khosa, 2009). The ruling made in the case showed courts were not supposed to intervene in matters that had already been reviewed by IAD. The tribunal’s ruling on Khosa was allowed to stand.

The concept of Dunsmuir as used in the case was used to assess the extent to which IAD exercised reasonableness in its judgment against Khosa. The legislated standard of review that had been established by the Federal Courts Act allowed IAD to review and make decisions regarding various issues related to immigrants in the country. As stipulated by the act, IAD was not required to demonstrate to the court whether its actions had satisfied the reasonableness principle as stipulated under Dunsmuir (Canada v. Khosa, 2009). The Federal Court of Appeal had to deal with the basis of administrative decisions that were made about the case. As such, it had no authority to determine if the standards of review applied by IAD were just or not, in the decision it made against Khosa.

Khosa’s eligibility for relief was supposed to be taken through various reasonable procedures before a verdict was reached. In effect, Khosa’s involvement in crime and the remorse he had for his actions were not considered as sufficient grounds for relief by IAD. IAD’s interpretation of issues related to Khosa’s relief was influenced by objectives it was expected to fulfill by the government. Therefore, the gravity of the crime and the rehabilitation of Khosa were noted as crucial elements in the case. However, they were not considered relevant in determining whether he was going to be eligible for relief to remain in Canada or not (Canada v. Khosa, 2009). The IAD panel thought Khosa did not provide more evidence to show that he needed to stay in the country on humanitarian grounds. Khosa’s claims of rehabilitation were considered insufficient to grant him relief because he had failed to take full responsibility for his offense.

The verdict reached by IAD was seen as reasonable because it used its deferential powers as granted by the legislature to rule on the matter. It used standards of review that were recognized under the law and all its members were competent enough to arbitrate immigration matters brought before them. Khosa’s admission of remorse was not substantial to show he had changed his conduct because he had failed to admit his involvement in a street race. His application lacked merits to qualify him for relief to stay in the country (Canada v. Khosa, 2009). The patent reasonableness standard required IAD to focus more on the nature of the problem it was supposed to resolve. Therefore, the compassionate plea made by Khosa was not given a lot of consideration. The body had the authority to exercise its discretion to rule in favor or against Khosa’s plea of relief.

The ruling, in this case, focused more on the nature of the problem being resolved and powers allocated to IAD to adjudicate the case. The review done by the IAD and the subsequent ruling by the Supreme Court did not offer a clear interpretation of the law. The ruling did not give clarity regarding instances when a statutory tribunal’s rulings supersede rulings made by other law courts. The ruling exposed loopholes in the law regarding how various immigration issues should be enforced (Canada v. Khosa, 2009). The leeway granted to IAD does not make it possible for people that seek justice from the tribunal to get a fair hearing. The tribunal failed to give proper attention to all matters that pertained to Khosa’s application. This denied him justice because other judicial bodies did not have the authority to rule on the matter.

Appeals Committee Authority

The Priya Singh v. University of British Columbia case in the Supreme Court of British Columbia highlighted several issues related to the applicant’s failure to attain good academic records while studying in the institution. She had appealed to the university’s academic tribunal to allow her to rewrite exams which she had already done previously and failed (Singh v. UBC, 2010). She had sought a judicial review from the university’s administration because she claimed she was suffering from poor health at the time which made it difficult for her to pass exams. Mrs. Singh had been enrolled in the institution and was required to maintain an average mark of 65% in all courses she undertook in the first two semesters. She was advised that her failure to comply with these terms would lead to immediate termination of her studies. Her application to the institution’s appeal committee sought to compel the university to remove records of three courses she had failed, to allow her to rewrite them.

The Appeals Committee gave her another chance to do one of the papers she had failed but she did not do so as she claimed she was unwell at the time. The appeals committee, later on, disagreed with Ms. Singh’s request to expunge results of exams she had failed from her university academic records. The court found that the Appeals Committee had used fair procedures to rule on the matter because it had relied on evidence brought before it. The court argued that Section 61 of the British Columbia University Act gave the president of a university the mandate to handle any matter related to student discipline. Ms. Singh had written an exam without the university’s consent, disregarding advice from relevant academic authorities not to do so. She argued she needed to rewrite the fourth paper to help her improve a previous grade she had failed (Singh v. UBC, 2010).

The judgment by the court upheld the university’s tribunal decision and did not find any grounds that showed that it acted unfairly. The court noted the applicant had been allowed to present her case before the tribunal which showed procedures followed before the decision was made were fair and just. The court also noted that the tribunal had used all evidence provided by the applicant and her faculty in making its decision. This meant the ruling was not in any way unreasonable because it had given the applicant several forms of relief that allowed her to rewrite one of the exams she had failed due to medical reasons. Therefore, the academic appeals committee had used its authority in a respectable manner which was fair to both the applicant and the university (Singh v. UBC, 2010).

The decision reached by the Supreme Court of British Columbia showed that exam disputes between students and their faculty heads should be resolved by bodies that have been given the mandate to do so. In the case of Priya Singh, the Access and Diversity Office in the institution had respected her wish to rewrite one of the papers. She had shown proof that her medical condition barred her from focusing on her studies which made her fail her exams. The applicant’s decision to rewrite the fourth paper without being authorized to do so by the university show her disregard for institutional practices used to safeguard transparency and fairness in exam procedures (Singh v. UBC, 2010). Ms. Singh had shown that she was not willing to follow university policies to enable her to sustain positive relations with the institution. The standards applied by the dispute resolution body revealed she was aware of the institution’s expectations before she enrolled. Therefore, she could not turn around and claim that the academic appeals committee was unfair to her.

The court of appeal’s decision made it clear that academic appeals committees and other dispute resolution bodies in educational institutions need to be allowed to perform their responsibilities. The judges’ ruling on the matter implies that academic review boards have the authority required to resolve academic disputes that occur in their institutions. The student failed to rewrite the exam she had previously failed, within the time limits allocated. This confirmed she was negligent and did not take her academic responsibilities seriously. Good academic performance was the foundation on which her relationship with the university was built (Singh v. UBC, 2010). The university’s administration and courts were fair and they followed all legal procedures which were relevant in determining the case. Therefore, Singh’s appeal lacked merit because she had failed to live up to the expectations of the institution.

Conclusion

The decision made by the court regarding IAD’s standards of practice was right because it had the mandate to rule on various immigration issues without undue interference from another external judicial body. However, the IAD needs to apply its standards of practice fairly. It needs to review all facts presented before it by various parties without prejudice to ensuring it makes fair rulings. This will help it review issues related to immigrants without prejudice to ensure all parties are given a fair hearing. The ruling by the court of appeal that upheld the university’s decision was timely. This ruling will help to maintain high levels of academic discipline in institutions of higher learning. This allows universities and other learning institutions to get more control of their academic programs to ensure students conform to effective academic policies. Therefore, students need to follow all academic policies that are enforced in their institutions to sustain positive relationships with administrators of institutions they are enrolled in.

References

Canada v. Khosa, 12 S.C.C.31952 (2009).

Singh v. UBC, 485 B.C.C.A. 037940 (2010).

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