The Tribunal rules make it clear that a Request to Expedite is a request and not a procedural right. Under the same rule, the Tribunal states that should the Tribunal deny a Request to Expedite, it need not give reasons.
One of the more unique aspects of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario is the ability for the applicant to request that their matter be expedited. While this request is available to all applicants, there is a criteria that must be satisfied. If in the event the request is denied, a reason need not be given to the applicant. In the matter of Fish v. National Steel Car Ltd., the interim decision addressed what the applicant characterized as a denial of procedural fairness as a result of the Tribunal’s denial of the applicant’s request.
The applicant filed his Application with the Tribunal on May 25, 2011, along with a Request to Expedite. The applicant’s request was subsequently denied. The applicant challenged the Tribunal’s decision based on the assertion that in the Tribunal having denied his request and without reason, he had ostensibly been denied procedural fairness.
Under Rule 21 of the Human Rights Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure:
“An Applicant may request that the Tribunal deal with an Application on an expedited basis in circumstances which require an urgent resolution of the issues in dispute.”[i]
The Tribunal relies on such factors as timelines, reasons for the request, the harm that may result if the request is denied, and why the Application should be given priority.
The Tribunal rules also make it clear that a Request to Expedite is a request and not a procedural right. Under the same rule, the Tribunal states that should the Tribunal deny a Request to Expedite, it need not give reasons.
The applicant maintained that the “lack of reasons” precluded him from seeking a reconsideration of the decision. The interim decision offered a further explanation:
“In its decisions, the HRTO has refused to grant requests to expedite unless the circumstances are truly urgent, requiring the resolution of the human rights dispute in a particularly rapid manner as compared with the time required to complete the HRTO’s regular process or where refusal to expedite will render the remedy for the alleged human rights breach moot or unavailable.
Except in the rarest of circumstances and without a compelling explanation, an applicant who has not filed the application promptly after identifying the alleged human rights breach will not be given the priority for HRTO resources of an expedited proceeding.
The HRTO has held that financial pressures, emotional and psychological stress are generally not the type of factors that meet the high threshold for expediting an application. As well, general, vague or speculative assertions about the harm that may result if an application is not expedited may not be sufficient to establish that an application is truly urgent and should be expedited.”[ii]
In this matter, the Request to Expedite was dismissed through a letter from the Registrar. In the interim decision, the Tribunal further explained that in matters dealing with process, there are no grounds for reconsideration, as only final orders may be reconsidered. As this matter addressed a preliminary issue and not the actual issues of the case, the decision was not considered a final order, and as such, under the Rules, the applicant was estopped from any reconsideration.
The takeaway here is that while an applicant may request that the matter be expedited, there is no guarantee the request will be granted, and that the Tribunal need not provide any reason for its denial.
[i] Fish v. National Steel Car Ltd.2012 HRTO 358 (CanLII) Para. 2
[ii] Ibid., para. 3