Anyone who disagrees with an Agency's Notice of Violation can request a review by the Minster or by the Canada Agricultural Review Tribunal under the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act (AMP Act).
When the person, called the applicant, requests a review by the Canada Agricultural Review Tribunal, he or she may proceed by written submissions alone or, if a penalty has been assessed, by requesting an oral hearing. If the applicant requests an oral hearing, he or she may call witnesses and enter new evidence during the hearing. In certain circumstances, the Agency which issued the Notice of Violation may wish to withdraw the case, or the applicant may wish to withdraw his or her request for review. In each case, the Tribunal will consider the proposed action and, guided by its Practice Notice - Submitting and Withdrawing Cases, will issue a decision.
A second type of review, under the Canada Agricultural Products Act (CAP Act), occurs when a party disagrees with a decision made by the Board of Arbitration. Unlike a review under the AMP Act, this type is very restrictive in that the applicant must show that there is either an error in law in the Board's decision or that there was a lack of natural justice in the process.
The overwhelming majority of cases coming before the Tribunal are pursuant to the AMP Act.
When completing the Request for Review form or during preparation and presentation of your case to the Tribunal, you may find it helpful to refer to the Tribunal's Practice Notes that have been issued to clarify certain procedural matters.
Once the Tribunal receives the applicant's request for review, the Tribunal will determine if it is admissible (the most common reasons for inadmissibility are that the applicant did not file his or her claim within the prescribed time or that he or she has already paid the prescribed penalty noted in the Notice of Violation). If the claim is admissible, the Tribunal will, within 48 hours of receipt, advise the Agency of the requirement to prepare a report concerning the alleged violation. That report must then be sent to the Tribunal and to the applicant within 15 days. Then either party has an additional 30 days to respond or add to materials in the report. Parties generally must file all their documents in hard copy but are allowed by Tribunal Rules, and during the period April 1 to December 31, 2011, may participate in the Tribunal Pilot Project for the Electronic Filing of Documents.
The Tribunal's policy on extending these deadlines is set out in the Practice Note - Requests for Extensions of Time for Filing Documents.
Where an oral hearing is not held, the Tribunal will render a decision based on the Report prepared by the Agency as well as any additional representations made by applicant or Agency. This decision will then be rendered in writing and sent to all parties.
Where an oral hearing is requested, a Notice of Hearing will be sent to all parties by the Registrar's office, by registered mail, thirty (30) days before the scheduled date.
Prior to an oral hearing, the Tribunal may request its Registrar to conduct a pre-hearing conference either by telephone or in person, so as to record any agreement by the parties of certain facts, the need to call particular witnesses, and any means agreed to so as to expedite procedural matters. The Tribunal's policy on the use of pre-hearing conferences is set out in its Practice Note - Use of Pre-hearing Conferences.
The hearings of the Tribunal take place at least 30 days after the Tribunal has sent a Notice of Hearing to all the parties in the case. The place of the hearing will be determined by the Tribunal after consideration of both parties' desired choice of venue. The Tribunal has set out a Practice Note on this matter - Choice of Venue for Hearings. At the hearing, both sides are given an opportunity to present their case, through witness testimony. For assistance in these matters, please refer to the Tribunal policy on Witnesses, their evidence and procedures for obtaining a summons to secure the attendance of a witness at an oral hearing of this Tribunal.
All hearings before the Tribunal will be recorded and, if a transcript is requested, it shall be at the expense of the party requesting it.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the Tribunal may take the matter under advisement or render a decision orally. In either case, the Tribunal's decision will be issued in writing and a copy mailed to all parties involved.
Once a decision has been rendered, it will be treated as a public document. The Tribunal, with respect to access and privacy, follows the common law "open court principle" and the statutory requirements under which it must operate. Therefore, all documents filed are made accessible to the public and decisions are posted on the Tribunal Web site. Only under very limited circumstances can they be removed or restricted. The Tribunal's policy on privacy is set out in its Practice Note - Open Court Principle and Privacy Concerns.
Adjournments will be granted by the Tribunal only for exceptional reasons, and failure to appear, once an oral hearing has been requested, may result in the hearing being conducted in the applicant's absence. The Tribunal's policy on adjournments and postponements is set out in its Practice Note - Requests for Adjournments and Postponements of an Oral Hearing.
In any review before the Tribunal, the following rules must be respected:
Full procedural rules of the Tribunal are set out in the Rules of the Review Tribunal (Agriculture and Agri-Food).
A decision by the Tribunal is final and not subject to appeal, except for judicial review by the Federal Court of Appeal pursuant to section 28 of the Federal Courts Act. Strict deadlines must be adhered to when seeking judicial review before the Federal Court of Appeal is sought.