The Prices Review Board was investigating Ciba-Geigy for selling its drugs at a very cheap price which was way below market value. The competitors were losing money as they could not sell their products for the same price. The Patent Act allowed the Board to review reports from its staff on the pricing issue to decide whether a formal hearing was necessary. The appellant sought disclosure of all facets of the staff investigation and all documents in the hands of the Board or its chairman. A judicial review by the Federal Court from the Board's refusal of this request had been dismissed.
- What level of discovery is appropriate in the administrative context where the interests affected are primarily economic?
MacGuigan, writing for a unanimous court, held that the administrative tribunal here had economic regulatory functions and no power to affect human rights in a way akin to criminal proceedings. A trustful relationship with its investigative staff and proceeding as fairly and expeditiously as the circumstances of fairness permit were valid Board objectives. The appellant had agreed that its case was one of audi alteram partem and expressly agreed that the level of procedural fairness should be decided on the facts of each case. Here, the law and policy considerations required that some leeway be given to the Board, which had economic regulatory objectives in pursuing its mandate.
- The level of procedural fairness granted should be decided on the facts of each case.
- Policy considerations may require some leeway to an administrative decision maker, especially in an economic and/or regulatory context.
- The level of discovery where the only interests affected are economic and not human rights will be lower than in Northwestern General Hospital.