More fishy stuff at RoadSafetyBC
We’ve written a lot about RoadSafetyBC delaying rendering IRP review decisions. One of the problems with the ongoing backlog of decisions is that as time goes on, memory fades, witnesses disappear, friends move on, and evidence becomes harder to obtain. It’s one of the reasons we have so many concerns with the delay in rendering decisions.
This past week, we discovered yet another problem with the delay issue that impacts your right to a fair hearing.
We received a number of letters from RoadSafetyBC all at once. The letters indicate, for a substantial number of clients, that the adjudicator who initially heard their case is unable to render a decision at all. The letter doesn’t say why the adjudicator, who in many cases had been extending the time to render a decision for a year, is no longer able to render a decision. All the letter states is that there were “extenuating circumstances.”
RoadSafetyBC’s actions have no foundation in any provision of the Motor Vehicle Act
The law about a fair hearing states that the person who hears the case is the person who has to decide it. So switching the adjudicator mid-case is a problem.
When we received these letters, we were immediately concerned. The letters demanded that our clients reschedule their review hearings with different adjudicators, or the hearings would automatically revert to written hearings. The letters did not describe who would pay for the additional hours of legal work resubmitting all the evidence in the case, re-arguing the case, re-reviewing all the evidence, and re-framing arguments on the basis of decisions that have been rendered in the meantime.
The letters also did not specify how we are supposed to schedule more than fifty additional review hearings when RoadSafetyBC only offers five hearing slots a day, and we have clients who have already scheduled review hearings who want their cases to proceed in the first instance.
Suffice it to say, it’s unfair.
Now, perhaps foolishly, we thought that we would simply address our concerns in writing to RoadSafetyBC and like any respectable administrative tribunal faced with a significant breach of procedural fairness, they would write us back and we could reach an amicable solution.
We keep deluding ourselves into thinking that RoadSafetyBC will respond in a reasonable and rational way to logical concerns flowing from what they themselves have called “extenuating circumstances.”
But, perhaps unsurprisingly, our complaints and concerns fell on deaf ears.
So now what?
We have no choice but to file an application for judicial review in a lead case. We have already picked out a good file, with strong arguments about the violation of procedural fairness. If the Superintendent and RoadSafetyBC won’t work with us to help ensure our clients have a fair hearing, our only recourse is to ask the courts to do it. It’s clunky, time-consuming, and costly. But right now it is our only course of action, and we’re not afraid to take the tough steps to ensure our clients get fair hearings.
We can appreciate that sometimes personal matters make a person unable to decide a case. But this wasn’t a situation where we were told that there was an issue. This is a case where this particular adjudicator extended the time to render decisions in these cases for months on end. They had to know there was a problem sooner. They had to know this was coming. They have to know this will cost people.
And what about all those people who did not have a lawyer? How are they now, a year later, supposed to make their arguments to the adjudicator on the basis of memories that have faded? What if your witness is gone and no longer able to testify in your case? The photographs that you took and submitted, or the video you emailed in for your hearing has been deleted from your phone? Where is the remedy or fairness for these people?
We are willing to take on cases of people who have argued their own hearings and received these letters. We’ll argue for your right to a fair hearing. And if the Superintendent cannot follow through on their promise that you’ll get a decision from the adjudicator who heard your case, and that the decision will be rendered properly and in accordance with the parameters set out in the Motor Vehicle Act, then we’ll argue with them on that too.
As far as we are concerned, what is happening here is wrong. It is unjust. It is contrary to law. And RoadSafetyBC’s actions have no foundation in any provision of the Motor Vehicle Act. They should be revoking the prohibitions, apologizing, and refunding the review money to people who are affected by this.
If they can’t ensure cases progress in a timely and fair manner, and if they can’t properly staff their adjudicative system, our clients and the public affected by this should not have to bear the cost.
And we won’t let that happen.