A key principle in administrative law is that justice must not only be done, but also be seen to be done. In the almost century since Lord Hewart penned his oft-referenced decision in Rex v Sussex Justices [1924 1 KB 256] that encapsulated this common law principle, governments have taken steps to provide for various accountability mechanisms and establish conflict of interest procedures for all branches of government. The same period has seen an expansion of administrative tribunals both in number and in scope, and so the question of how administrative decision-makers maintain and are seen to maintain their independence within the executive branch of government remains an active and important issue within the public sector.
A panel at this year’s Society of Ontario Adjudicators and Regulators (SOAR) Conference on November 2, 2023, took up this question in the context of modernization within three different organizations. In keeping with themes from other discussions about the future of administrative law at the SOAR Conference, moderator Carolyn Slon, Senior Legal Counsel, Governance & Tribunal Secretariat, Ontario Securities Commission convened a panel to discuss the three organizations’ recent modernization experiences.
Joining Ms. Slon from the Ontario Securities Commission was Grace Knakowski, Corporate Secretary & Director, Governance & Tribunal Secretariat. Ms. Knakowski provided an overview of the Commission’s recent governance reforms that culminated in the enactment of the Ontario Securities Commission Act, 2021. Previously, the Commission’s board of directors carried out multiple roles as policy-makers, regulators, and adjudicators.