Exhausting Administrative Processes Prior to Commencing a Judicial Review

  • June 12, 2023
  • Carina Reider, associate, Jillian M. Siskind & Associates

Before advising clients to commence a judicial review of an administrative decision, it is important to verify that all administrative processes have been exhausted. This principle comes from an administrative law rule known by multiple names, including the doctrine of exhaustion, the rule against interlocutory judicial reviews, and the objection against premature judicial reviews (hereinafter referred to as the “Doctrine of Exhaustion”).

The Doctrine of Exhaustion stands for the proposition that absent exceptional circumstances, parties cannot proceed to the court system until the administrative process has run its course. [1] This means that those who are dissatisfied with a matter in an ongoing administrative process must pursue all available administrative remedies; only when the administrative process has finished can they proceed to court.[2]

In the leading case on the Doctrine of Exhaustion, C.B. Powell Limited v. Canada (Border Services Agency)[3] (“C.B. Powell”), the Federal Court of Appeal provided the following reasons to substantiate the doctrine of exhaustion: