A Primer on Appeals From RCDSO Decisions

Our practice includes assisting dentists with appeals or reviews of various kinds of decisions made by the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (“RCDSO”). 

Each type of RCDSO decision generally has distinct rules on how to appeal the decision. These rules address which Court or tribunal will be in charge of the appeal, how quickly the appeal must be brought, what is subject to the appeal, the powers of the reviewing body, and the timeline to commence an appeal. We have summarized this information below. 

Dentists should seek legal advice as soon as possible if they are considering appealing a decision of the RCDSO. It is important to institute an appeal before the proper reviewing Court or tribunal, and timelines for commencing appeals are typically short. 

Complaint decisions 

Appeals from decisions of the RCDSO’s Inquiries, Complaints, and Reports Committee (“ICRC”) that arise from public complaints lie to the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (“HPARB”) (section 29 of the Health Professions Procedural Code (“HPPC”)). Such appeals are typically referred to as “reviews.” 

HPARB is an independent administrative tribunal that deals with reviews for all health professions in Ontario. HPARB is not affiliated with the RCDSO.  

An HPARB review must be brought within 30 days of the ICRC’s complaint decision (section 21 of the HPPC).

HPARB has limited statutory jurisdiction when it reviews an ICRC complaint decision, and can only consider (1) the adequacy of the ICRC investigation, and (2) the reasonableness of the ICRC’s decision (section 33 of the HPPC). It is important to direct HPARB submissions to these specific areas. 

Typically, HPARB will conduct reviews of ICRC complaint decisions orally, by way of a hearing. 

HPARB does not have jurisdiction to review an ICRC decision in which the ICRC referred the matter to the Discipline Committee or for incapacity proceedings. However, such decisions may be subject to judicial review. 

After conducting a review of the ICRC’s complaint decision, HPARB may confirm all or part of the ICRC’s decision, refer the matter back to the ICRC for further consideration along with any recommendations HPARB considers appropriate, or, in rare cases, substitute its own decision for that of the ICRC.   

Section 75 investigation decisions 

There is no statutory right to appeal or review decisions of the ICRC which arise from the appointment of an investigator under section 75 of the Health Professions Procedural Code. Because of this, ICRC decisions arising from section 75 investigations cannot be appealed to HPARB. 

However, ICRC decisions arising from section 75 investigations are subject to judicial review by the Divisional Court. The procedure for judicial reviews is governed by Rule 68 of the Rules of Civil Procedure and the Judicial Review Procedure Act. 

There is no specific time limit within which a judicial review proceeding of an ICRC decision arising from a section 75 investigation must be brought. However, it is a good practice to institute judicial review proceedings as soon as possible, ideally within 30 days of the decision subject to review. This will avoid any potential opposing argument about undue delay in commencing the judicial review. 

Judicial review proceedings are typically decided by a panel of three judges of the Divisional Court. Judicial review proceedings typically require written argument in the form of a factum, as well as oral argument to be presented to the Court by all parties subject to the judicial review. Typically, both the RCDSO and the dentist are parties to this kind of judicial review proceeding. 

HPARB decisions arising from complaint decisions of the ICRC

HPARB decisions arising out of complaint decisions of the ICRC are subject to judicial review by the Divisional Court. 

There is no specific time limit within which a judicial review proceeding arising from an HPARB decision must be brought. However, it is a good practice to institute judicial review proceedings as soon as possible, ideally within 30 days of the decision subject to review. This will avoid any potential opposing argument about undue delay in commencing the judicial review.

Judicial review proceedings are typically decided by a panel of three judges of the Divisional Court. Judicial review proceedings typically require written argument in the form of a factum, as well as oral argument to be presented to the Court by all parties subject to the judicial review. Typically, the RCDSO, the HPARB, and the dentist are all parties to this kind of judicial review proceeding. Depending on the nature of the underlying decision, there may be additional parties, such as patients with an interest in the outcome. 

Discipline Committee and Fitness to Practice Committee decisions 

Appeals from Discipline Committee decisions and Fitness to Practice Committee decisions lie to the Divisional Court (section 70 of the HPPC). 

Appeals to the Divisional Court from Discipline Committee decisions and Fitness to Practice Committee decisions must be brought within 30 days from the date of the order which is being appealed (section 61.04 of the Rules of Civil Procedure). 

Appeals can also be made in the case of interlocutory orders of the Discipline Committee or the Fitness to Practice Committee, for instance from a decision on a motion. 

The Divisional Court has statutory jurisdiction to consider both questions of fact and questions of law in an appeal from a decision of the Discipline Committee or the Fitness to Practice Committee. 

Appeals to the Divisional Court from decisions of the Discipline Committee or the Fitness to Practice committee are typically heard by a three-judge panel. Appeals of this nature typically require written argument in the form of a factum, as well as oral argument to be presented to the Court by all parties subject to the appeal. Typically, the RCDSO and the dentist are parties to an appeal. Depending on the nature of the underlying decision, there may be additional parties, such as patients with an interest in the outcome.

Registration Committee decisions 

Appeals from decisions of the RCDSO Registration Committee lie to the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (section 20 of the HPPC). 

An appeal to HPARB must be brought within 30 days of the Registration Committee’s decision (section 21 of the HPPC). 

Following either an oral hearing or a written review, HPARB can do the following: 

  • confirm the Registration Committee’s decision; 
  • require the Registration Committee to issue a certificate of registration with any terms, conditions, or limitations the Board considers appropriate; or 
  • refer the matter back to the Registration Committee for further consideration. 

HPARB decisions arising from decisions of the Registration Committee 

Appeals from HPARB decisions in registration cases lie to the Divisional Court (section 70 of the HPPC). 

Appeals to the Divisional Court from registration decisions must be brought within 30 days from the date of the order which is being appealed (section 61.04 of the Rules of Civil Procedure). 

The Divisional Court has statutory jurisdiction to consider both questions of fact and questions of law in an appeal from an HPARB decision in a registration case. 

Appeals to the Divisional Court from HPARB decisions in registration cases are typically heard by a three-judge panel. Appeals of this nature typically require written argument in the form of a factum, as well as oral argument to be presented to the Court by all parties subject to the appeal. Typically, the RCDSO, the HPARB, and the dentist are all parties to this kind of appeal. There may be additional parties depending on the nature of the underlying decision.

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