Tribunal Members' Code of Conduct

1.0 Purpose of the Code of Conduct

The purpose of the Code of Conduct is to promote the highest standards of conduct by members of the BC Human Rights Tribunal [Tribunal], in order to maintain and enhance public confidence in the integrity, independence, impartiality, and effectiveness of the Tribunal.

2.0 Application of the Code of Conduct

2.1 The Code of Conduct applies to all Tribunal members. The Code of Conduct governs members' conduct from the commencement to the completion of their term of appointment, and outlines their continuing responsibilities after the completion of their term.

2.2 In the Code of Conduct, a Tribunal proceeding includes all aspects of a complaint proceeding, including the conduct of case conferences, mediations, and making any decision, order, or direction in respect of a complaint.

3.0 Bias and Conflict of Interest

3.1 Members shall carry out their Tribunal duties in a neutral and impartial manner. A member shall not participate in any Tribunal proceeding or discussion in which the facts may give rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias or conflict of interest on the part of the member.

3.2 A reasonable apprehension of bias exists when a reasonable, well-informed person, viewing the matter realistically and practically and having thought the matter through, would conclude that it is more likely than not that the member, whether consciously or unconsciously, would not decide fairly.

3.3 Members shall arrange their personal or professional activities, employment, or business affairs so as to minimize the likelihood of conflicts arising that may affect their neutrality or give rise to an allegation of bias.

3.4 A member shall not  participate in any Tribunal proceeding where the member has (or has had within the last 12 months) a significant or close personal, professional, or businessrelationship with a party, party’s representative, or witness.

3.5 A member shall not conduct participate in any Tribunal proceeding in which the member or close relation or associate of the member has had any prior involvement.

3.6 A member is responsible for identifying and disclosing to the Tribunal Chair, at the earliest possible opportunity, circumstances which may give rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias or conflict of interest in respect of any of the member’s responsibilities. If a member has any question as to whether a reasonable apprehension of bias or conflict of interest exists, the member shall consult with the Chair at the earliest opportunity in order to make that determination.

3.7 Where it has been determined that a reasonable apprehension of bias or conflict of interest may exist, the member shall not deal with the complaint and a notation will be made on the front of the paper file and on the electronic file that the member shall have no access to that file.

3.8 Where the Chair determines that they have a potential bias or conflict of interest in respect of a matter before the Tribunal, the Chair shall instruct Tribunal staff that all communications regarding the matter are to be directed to a designated member of the Tribunal. The file shall be marked “No Access to Tribunal Chair” and the Chair shall not participate in decisions regarding the complaint, including the choice of member designated to make a decision or order in respect of a complaint, the scheduling of the hearing, or the release of the decision.

3.9 Where a member becomes aware, after being designated to make a decision or order in respect of a complaint, of a possible conflict of interest or of facts which may give rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias, and the circumstances are unknown to the parties or their representatives, the member shall:

  • resign from the proceeding if the member determines that there is a reasonable apprehension of bias; or
  • inform the parties of the circumstances, hear submissions from the parties, and then make a determination on whether they should resign from the matter.

3.10 Where an allegation of conflict of interest or bias is raised by a party, the member shall:

  • resign from the proceeding if the member determines that there is a reasonable apprehension of bias; or
  • hear submissions from the parties, and then make a determination on the issue.

3.11 A member shall not accept money, awards, or gifts from persons who may be or who have been affected by a Tribunal decision. A member shall normally be allowed to accept a gift offered as an honorarium for a speaking engagement.

4.0 Conduct of a Tribunal Proceeding

4.1 Members shall maintain their objectivity and impartiality in the conduct of all Tribunal proceedings, and shall refrain from conducting themselves in a manner that might suggest a lack of objectivity or impartiality.

4.2 While maintaining the required objectivity and impartiality, it is appropriate for a member to explain to self-represented parties the procedure to be followed and, in the course of an oral hearing, to outline for the self-represented party the relevant evidentiary and procedural rules which govern the conduct of the hearing, as well as the uncontroverted legal principles which apply to the complaint and the facts that each party bears the burden of proving.

4.3 A member shall not communicate directly or indirectly with any party, representative, or witness at any stage of a Tribunal proceeding, excluding a mediation, except in the presence of all parties and/or their representatives or unless the correspondence is copied to all the parties and/or their representatives.

4.4 A member shall not have, in the course of a proceeding, any significant social interaction with a party, representative, or witness unless all parties and representatives are present and there is no discussion with respect to the subject matter of the proceeding.

5.0 Decision-Making Responsibilities

5.1 Members shall make each decision according to the true merits of the case, on the basis of evidence presented and the applicable law. Members shall apply the law to the evidence in good faith and to the best of their ability. Members shall not be influenced by partisan interest, public opinion, or fear of criticism.

5.2 In exercising their independent judgment in each case, members shall give due consideration to previous Tribunal jurisprudence and the need for a degree of consistency in the interpretation of the law.

5.3 A member shall render a decision and issue written reasons within a reasonable time after the conclusion of the submissions.

6.0 Responsibilities to the Tribunal

6.1 A member shall not comment publicly on any aspect of a complaint that is before the Tribunal or is likely to come before the Tribunal.

6.2 Members shall respect the confidentiality of the Tribunal’s decision-making processes. Except as required by law, a member shall not divulge confidential information obtained in the course of their duties, other than information which is generally available to the public.

6.3 A member shall refrain from publicly taking a position with respect to an issue that is either currently under consideration before the Tribunal or which is a matter that has previously been, or is likely to be, considered and determined by the Tribunal.

6.4 A member shall refrain from public criticism of the Tribunal or its members, processes, and decisions.

6.5 A member shall not engage in conduct that exploits their position of authority as a member of the Tribunal. A member who engages in another profession, occupation or business shall not allow those activities to undermine the impartial discharge of their responsibilities as a Tribunal member.

6.6 A member shall not use information which is not generally available to the public, and which the member has obtained through their Tribunal duties, to obtain a personal benefit or a benefit for a person with whom the member has a relationship or association. This would not, in most cases, include a member’s contributions to professional educational activities such as public conferences.

6.7 Members may only represent the Tribunal in their activities outside the Tribunal when specifically authorized by the Chair to do so.

7.0 Obligations After Ceasing to be a Member

7.1 A Member shall not appear before the Tribunal as a representative, until the later of six months after:

(a) the Member’s term of appointment to the Tribunal has terminated, or

(b) the release of any outstanding decisions for which the Member was responsible.

7.2 After the conclusion of his/her term of appointment, a Member shall have a continuing obligation to maintain the confidentiality of confidential information which had been obtained in the course of his/her duties as a Member.

7.0 Obligations After Ceasing to be a Member

7.1 A member shall not appear before the Tribunal as a representative, until the later of six months after:

(a) the member’s term of appointment to the Tribunal has terminated, or

(b) the release of any outstanding decisions for which the member was responsible.

7.2 After the conclusion of their term of appointment, a member shall have a continuing obligation to maintain the confidentiality of confidential information which had been obtained in the course of their duties as a member.