The purpose of the Adjudicative Tribunals Accountability, Governance and Appointments Act, 2009 (“ATAGAA”) is to ensure that adjudicative tribunals are accountable, transparent and efficient in their operations, while remaining independent in their decision-making.
Tribunals Ontario has developed documents to meet the legislative requirements of the ATAGAA.
Section 7 of the ATAGAA requires that every adjudicative tribunal shall develop a member accountability framework. The framework must contain, among other things, a code of conduct for the members of the constituent tribunals.
This Code of Conduct (the “Code”) sets out the standards of conduct governing the professional and ethical responsibilities of Tribunals Ontario’s Members. Members may be appointed to one or more of Tribunals Ontario’s 14 constituent tribunals (the “tribunals”). This Code applies throughout their term of appointment and, where mentioned, after their term has expired. This Code addresses the principles of good conduct, collegial responsibility and personal conduct. Members are responsible for applying an appropriate standard of conduct and acting in an ethical and professional manner.
The principles set out in this Code are founded on the professional and ethical values of public service, which aim to uphold public trust.
This Code does not replace Members’ legislated obligations regarding conflicts of interest or political activity. Those obligations are outlined in the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 (“PSOA”) and its regulations, specifically O. Reg. 381/07, Conflict of Interest Rules for Public Servants (Ministry) and Former Public Servants (Ministry). Members are obligated to declare any personal or pecuniary interest that may raise an issue under PSOA or its conflict of interest rules to their Ethics Executive, Tribunals Ontario’s Executive Chair. However, Members should also alert their Associate Chair to any issue that may be the subject of such a declaration.
This Code is not intended to conflict with any other legal or professional requirements to which Members are subject. Although Members are responsible for complying with this Code, they are also responsible for understanding and complying with all other legal and professional obligations that apply to the exercise of their duties.
Members will act in accordance with all applicable laws and should comply with the spirit and intent of the law.
Members will not commit or condone an unethical or illegal act, or incite another to do so.
Members will be familiar with the legislation, policies and directives that apply to their work and the work of Tribunals Ontario, and should facilitate others’ compliance with all such applicable standards.
Members are obligated to comply with procedural fairness and natural justice requirements, and to act impartially in the conduct of proceedings.
Members will treat each person with dignity and respect and in a manner that builds trust.
Members will treat those who appear before them fairly and without discrimination or favouritism.
Members will be sensitive to issues of gender, ability, race, language, culture and religion. Members should be aware and respectful of social, cultural and other differences. In the course of their duties, they will act in a manner that promotes an appreciation of diversity.
Members will be sensitive to potential barriers to accessibility.
Members will conduct dispute resolution proceedings and investigations such that those who interact with the tribunals understand procedures and practices and can participate equally, regardless of whether they are represented.
Members will take all reasonable steps to ensure that proceedings are concluded in a timely manner, avoiding unnecessary delays and adjournments of proceedings. Parties are entitled to a decision as soon as possible after a proceeding. Members will strive to meet the timeliness standards established by the tribunals.
Members will attempt to be fully prepared for a proceeding and ensure that proceedings are orderly. Members should maintain the integrity of the process.
Members will ensure that decisions are prepared in accordance with Tribunals Ontario’s guidelines on form and language and meet Tribunals Ontario’s standards for quality decision-making.
Members will recognize the public interest through consistency and predictability in the exercise of their independent decision-making authority by considering relevant facts and evidence and/or information as well as law and jurisprudence.
Members will ensure that proceedings are conducted in a manner that is transparent and seen to be fair.
Members will act in a transparent and accountable manner regarding their personal and professional actions, and should assume that their actions will bear close public scrutiny.
Members will commit the time and effort required for their work at Tribunals Ontario.
Members will maintain a high level of professional competence and knowledge required to discharge their obligations and duties.
Members will remain current in their field by participating in Tribunals Ontario discussions and ongoing professional development.
Members should contribute their unique skills, experience and knowledge to Tribunals Ontario.
Where appropriate, Members will provide parties with opportunities to resolve issues before them without a formal proceeding.
Members will ensure that proceedings are streamlined to the best extent possible without sacrificing fairness.
Members will respect the use and treatment of public funds.
Members will act with honesty, integrity and high ethical standards. Members will not engage in conduct that exploits their position as a Member, including advertising in any personal or professional capacity the fact that they are Members.
Members will conduct themselves personally and professionally in a manner consistent with the nature of their responsibilities and the maintenance of public confidence in the administration of justice.
Members will not communicate directly or indirectly with any party, witness or representative in respect of a proceeding, except in the presence of all parties and their representatives, unless the circumstances require, such as in a mediation or when a Member is dealing with an accommodation request.
Members will not comment publicly on any aspect of a matter before the tribunals. In addition, Members will not discuss in private, outside Tribunals Ontario, any aspect of a matter before Tribunals Ontario’s tribunals.
Members will not publicly criticize or comment on the decisions, procedures or structures of Tribunals Ontario or its tribunals.
Members will not, other than in discharging their duties within Tribunals Ontario, provide any legal or other advice to anyone in respect of a matter that is or may come before one of the tribunals.
Members will not adjudicate any proceeding involving a party or representative with whom he or she has a close personal relationship.
For the first two years of their appointment, Members will not hear or determine any matter involving any firm or business at which, or any individual with whom, they worked immediately before their appointment.
In order to avoid the appearance of favouritism, Members will not appear before any of the tribunals as a party’s representative or expert or technical witness during the term of their appointment. In addition, Members will not appear as a party’s representative or expert or technical witness before any of the tribunals to which they were appointed within 12 months of ceasing to be a Member. This same restriction applies to an appearance before any other tribunal within Tribunals Ontario, but for a period of six months.
Members may commence or respond to an application, appeal or matter before one of the tribunals, provided they do so through a representative and immediately notify their Associate Chair and Executive Chair of the proceeding having been commenced.
Members will foster a collegial working environment and conduct themselves in a manner that reinforces the integrity and professionalism of Tribunals Ontario among Members and with staff.
Members will conduct themselves in a manner that demonstrates respect for the views and opinions of colleagues.
Members will share their knowledge and expertise with other Members as requested and appropriate.
Members will approach every proceeding and every issue arising in a proceeding with an open mind and avoid doing or saying anything that could cause any person to think otherwise.
Members will be independent in their decision-making. In the conduct of the tribunals’ proceedings, Members' decisions should be based on an application of the relevant law to the evidence and/or information presented in each case.
Members will consider the privacy interests of individuals in the conduct of proceedings and decisions, and act in accordance with applicable laws.
Members will not use or disclose information that Tribunals Ontario considers to be confidential.
Members will not use or disclose confidential information obtained through their official duties for any purpose, whether to obtain a personal benefit or otherwise, except to discharge their duties.
Members will follow Tribunals Ontario’s protocols for media relations and may not communicate with the media regarding a decision or proceeding.
Members will adhere to this Code of Conduct and commit to adhering to any additional standards set out in any applicable legislation, policies or guidelines.
Members will review and reaffirm their commitment to, and compliance with, this Code of Conduct upon their initial appointment and on an annual basis thereafter.
I ACKNOWLEDGE that I have read and understand, and will conduct myself in accordance with, this Code of Conduct._____________________________ _____________________________
This Code of Conduct is available in various accessible formats including Braille, audio tape and large print. For alternative format or a paper copy, please contact the Office of the Executive Chair, Tribunals Ontario.
This Code of Conduct will be reviewed every three years along with the other documentation required by ATAGAA.
This Code of Conduct was adopted by the Executive Chair, on February 12, 2021.