Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 256 17 I
S. Ryan - C. Sacco - Z. Agnidis
  • Adjournment (other proceedings)

A pre-hearing video-conference was conducted to discuss preliminary issues raised by the parties including an employer's request to postpone the Tribunal hearing until a decision of the Grievance Settlement Board was released. The employer's request for a postponement of the hearing until the release of the Grievance Settlement Board decision was denied.

The Panel noted that the worker first filed the Notice of Appeal in 2011. As a result of various issues, the appeal hearing was delayed. The Panel found that adjourning the matter to await a decision of the Grievance Settlement Board would result in further delay, which would be prejudicial to the worker. Although a hearing had been scheduled, the possibility that unexpected delays could occur at the Grievance Settlement Board, which would lead to further unreasonable delay in the Tribunal's proceeding, could not be disregarded. It was also noted that adjourning the appeal to await the decision of the Grievance Settlement Board would effectively place the appeal in abeyance for a potentially indefinite period of time, which could lead to wasted resources as set out in the Practice Direction on Adjournments.
Furthermore, the Panel acknowledged the concerns around parallel proceedings raising possible practical, ethical, and professional challenges. However, the Panel noted it would ultimately be the legal counsel's professional responsibility to manage these noted challenges. The Panel cited Tribunal decisions which have addressed the issue of parallel proceedings, and have not allowed adjournments on the basis of awaiting the outcome of a parallel proceeding. The Panel also stated that, although similar evidence may be heard before the Grievance Settlement Board, that evidence was not required for the Tribunal to make its findings, nor are findings from the Grievance Settlement Board binding on this Tribunal.
In addition, the Panel noted that the Practice Direction places particular consideration on whether the appellant consents to or objects to the adjournment request, even though this is not a stated requirement under the Practice Direction. In this case, the appellant had not consented to the adjournment request in light of the prejudicial delay an adjournment would cause. The Panel stated that it had similar concerns regarding further delays.