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 sets out the standards of conduct governing the professional and ethical responsibilities of Members of Tribunals Ontario. Members may be appointed to one or more of Tribunals Ontario’s fourteen constituent tribunals (the tribunals). This code applies throughout their term of appointment and where appropriate, these standards of conduct apply after the Member’s term of appointment has expired. This Code of Conduct 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 are set to uphold the public trust.
This Code of Conduct does not refer to Members’ legislated obligations regarding a conflict of interest or political activity rights and obligations. Please refer to the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 and its regulations including O Reg. 381/07, Conflict of Interest Rules for Public Servants (Ministry) and Former Public Servants, Part I and II Prohibited Conduct
This Code of Conduct is not intended to conflict with any legal or professional requirements to which a Member may be subject. It remains the responsibility of each Member of Tribunals Ontario to consider the appropriate standards and to conduct him or herself in a manner consistent with this Code of Conduct.
Members shall act in accordance with all applicable laws and should comply with the spirit and intent of the law.
Members shall not commit or condone an unethical or illegal act or invoke another to do so.
Members should be familiar with legislation, policies and directives that apply to their work and the work of Tribunals Ontario to comply with or facilitate others’ compliance with applicable laws.
Members have an obligation to comply with procedural fairness and natural justice requirements and to act impartially in the conduct of proceedings, including in matters of law.
Members should treat each person with dignity and respect and in a manner that builds trust.
Members should treat those who appear before the tribunals and/or participate in any tribunal process fairly, without discrimination or favouritism.
Members must demonstrate a high degree of sensitivity 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 should act in a manner that promotes an appreciation of diversity.
Members must be sensitive to potential barriers to accessibility.
Members should conduct dispute resolution proceedings and investigations such that those who interact with the tribunals understand procedures and practices and can participate equally, whether or not they are represented.
Members should 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 the proceeding. Members should meet the timeliness standards established by the tribunals.
Members should be fully prepared for a proceeding and ensure that proceedings are orderly. Members should maintain the integrity of the process.
Members should 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 should 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 should ensure that proceedings are conducted in a manner that is transparent and seen to be fair.
Members should act in a transparent and accountable manner regarding their personal and professional actions, in such a fashion that actions would bear close public scrutiny.
Members should commit the time and effort required for the work of Tribunals Ontario.
Members should maintain a high level of professional competence and knowledge required to discharge their obligations and duties.
Members should remain current in the 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 should provide parties with opportunities to resolve issues before them without a formal proceeding.
Members should ensure that proceedings are streamlined to the best extent possible without sacrificing fairness.
Members should respect the use and treatment of public funds.
Members should act with honesty, integrity and high ethical standards. Members shall not engage in conduct that exploits their position as a Member.
Members should 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 should not publicly criticize the decisions, procedures or structures of Tribunals Ontario.
Members should 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.
Members should not make public comment, orally or in writing, on any aspect of a matter before Tribunals Ontario’s tribunals. A Member should not discuss in private, outside Tribunals Ontario, any aspect of a matter before Tribunals Ontario’s tribunals.
In order to avoid the appearance of favouritism, members should not appear before, as representatives or as expert witnesses on behalf of parties, their former tribunal within twelve 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 should 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 should conduct themselves in a manner that demonstrates respect for the views and opinions of colleagues.
Members should share their knowledge and expertise with other Members as requested and appropriate.
Members should not comment publicly on another Member’s decision or conduct.
Members should approach every proceeding and every issue arising in a proceeding with an open mind and avoid doing or saying anything to cause any person to think otherwise.
Members should be independent in 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 shall consider the privacy interests of individuals in the conduct of proceedings and decisions, and act in accordance with applicable laws.
Members must not disclose information that Tribunals Ontario considers to be confidential.
Members must not take advantage of confidential information obtained through official duties to obtain a personal benefit.
Members must follow Tribunals Ontario’s protocols for media relations and may not communicate with the media regarding a decision or proceeding.
Each Member must adhere to this Code of Conduct and commit to supporting standards set out in applicable legislation, policies or guidelines.
Members should review and reaffirm their commitment to and compliance with Tribunals Ontario’s Code of Conduct upon initial appointment and on an annual basis thereafter.
I ACKNOWLEDGE that I have read and understand the Code of Conduct of Tribunals Ontario and agree to conduct myself in accordance with the 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 3 years along with the other documentation required by ATAGAA.
This Code of Conduct was adopted by the Executive Chair, on August 7, 2020.