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Hutfield v Board of Fort Saskatchewan General Hospital District No. 98

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FactsEdit

Dr. David Hutfield initially requested hospital privileges at the Fort Saskatchewan General Hospital in March 1984. The Hospitals Act and the applicable by-laws required the Hospital to ask the College of Physicians and Surgeons to appraise the applicant's qualifications, then required the Chief of Staff to prepare a written report with its recommendations to the Board of Governors who then decide whether to grant or deny the privileges. In October 1984, Dr. Hutfield's first application was denied. In December 1985, Dr. Hutfield re-applied to the Hospital for privileges. Although the Credentials Committee met, the College of Physicians and Surgeons was not asked to do a new appraisal because the Chief of Staff believed that the previous positive recommendations of the College were recent enough. Dr. Hutfield's solicitor requested notice of the meeting of the Board so that he could make personal representations; however, he was not given notice of the hearing, and the Board denied Dr. Hutfield's second application. Although Dr. Hutfield asked for reasons to be given for this decision, the Hospital declined to provide them. As a result, Dr. Hutfield applied for certiorari to quash the decision and mandamus to compel the Hospital to grant him privileges.

IssueEdit

  1. Did Dr. Hutfield have a legitimate expectation of either receiving the hospital privileges or of being afforded a hearing?
  2. Did the Board breach natural justice by failing to give reasons for their denial?
  3. Did the Board fail to follow its own procedure and by-laws?

DecisionEdit

Application allowed.

ReasonsEdit

McDonald finds there are very few decisions granting certiorari or finding a duty to act fairly in the granting of a right/privilege in the first place (see e.g. Webb and Ontario Housing Corporation (Re)) absent some special circumstance. He reviews some English caselaw and finds examples where judicial review was available based on a "legitimate expectation" of obtaining a right/privilege, as well as several cases where there was no legitimate expectation but certiorari was still available. Based on the caselaw he concludes that the distinction between the expected standards of procedural fairness in granting a right and extinguishing it is not founded in principle but is rather a historical accident based on the following:

  1. it is not only rights but "interests" that the courts will protect;
  2. certiorari is available not only where there is a duty to act judicially but also where there is a duty to act fairly;
  3. where there is a duty to act fairly, the content of that duty is fact-dependent;
  4. the expansion of judicial review and procedural fairness based on "legitimate expectation" and "slur" do not reflect a principle which can withstand scrutiny in the light of the object of judicial review.

Applying this to the case at bar, McDonald found that while the Board had no duty to grant hospital privileges to Dr. Hutfield (even if he was qualified), there was no doubt that his professional interests would be affected by the decision. As a result, certiorari was available to him. Additionally, the Board was under a duty to give reasons.

RatioEdit

  • If the decision of an administrative decision maker will extinguish or affect a right or interest of a person when that person's rights or interests are being considered and decided upon in a way that is final (or final subject to appeal), they must adhere to procedural standards.
    • The precise nature of the duty/standard due will depend upon the nature and extent of the right or interest.
    • A failure to adhere to the appropriate standard will attract quashing by certiorari and if necessary, an order in mandamus.

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