When Courts Consider Quality of Reasons: Association of Professional Engineers v Rew

  • February 06, 2021
  • Rachel Weiner


Association of Professional Engineers v Rew[1] is an appeal to the Divisional Court by the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario (the PEO) from a decision of a Discipline Panel of the PEO. This case is interesting from an administrative law perspective because the reasons were somewhat unconventional. This case demonstrates that quality of reasons can play an important role in determining whether an administrative decision should be upheld even where the reasons do permit review.

Proceedings before the Discipline Panel of the PEO

In 2008, Rew provided a second opinion about whether two oil spills had contaminated the soil and groundwater of a property.[2] Rew investigated, did some remediation work, and signed a report certifying that the property “posed no further risk”.[3] The Discipline Panel later received a complaint about Rew’s work, alleging negligence.[4] A hearing took place over 14 days in 2017 and 2018.[5] While the Panel began with five members, one of them left during the proceedings.[6]

The Panel concluded that the PEO failed to meet its onus of proving any of the allegations of professional misconduct against Rew.[7] It issued two sets of concurring reasons, one in November 2018 and one in December 2018, each signed by two members.[8]

The November reasons were over 160 pages long and the Divisional Court described them as “unusual, both in their structure and content”.[9] For the first 144 pages, the November reasons provide “a detailed, day by day summary of the evidence”, frequently quoting questions and answers directly from the transcripts, with added commentary from the Panel members.[10] The reasons then briefly summarize the arguments of the parties and outline the Panel’s conclusions in a section entitled “The Prosecution’s Failed Proofs”.[11]

In contrast, the December reasons were meant to be “concise and direct”, written in a manner that “conforms to the established format”.[12]