Oct 27, 2020

Complications Where a Practitioner Practises in Multiple Jurisdictions

Mema v Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta, 2020 ABQB 486 (CanLII)

Complex issues can arise where a practitioner is registered in multiple jurisdictions and misconduct concerns exist. In Mema v Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta, 2020 ABQB 486, http://canlii.ca/t/j99mc, the practitioner was registered in both Alberta and British Columbia. Allegations of misconduct arose primarily in respect of conduct in British Columbia. Regulators in both provinces received complaints of similar misconduct. It appears that the Alberta regulator proceeded first and that the regulator in British Columbia was awaiting the outcome in Alberta.

The Alberta regulator imposed an interim suspension, which the practitioner challenged in Court (in Alberta). Having found that practitioner would suffer irreparable harm to his reputation (even in the absence of evidence of financial harm), the Court focused on balancing whether the public or the practitioner would suffer greater damage from the absence or presence of the interim suspension. The Court determined that since the practitioner was not practising in Alberta, there was little risk of harm in that province. The interim suspension in Alberta was set aside.

The practitioner also tried to prevent or delay the Alberta investigation, arguing that the British Columbia regulatory proceedings should take priority. The Court agreed that the practitioner should not experience two concurrent investigations for essentially the same concerns. However, the Court explained that the Alberta regulator had jurisdiction over the conduct of the practitioner even if the misconduct occurred outside of the province. In addition, the Court found that the practitioner had provided insufficient evidence to support the position that the British Columbia regulator should be required to proceed first.