CBA President Statement on SCC's Decision in Groia

  • June 01, 2018

Today the Supreme Court handed down a split decision in Groia, with the majority ruling that the standard of review of a Law Society’s Appeal Panel decision is reasonableness, not correctness, and then deciding that the Appeal Panel’s finding of professional misconduct against  Joseph Groia on the basis of incivility was unreasonable.

The CBA intervened in the appeal to argue that a test for incivility amounting to professional misconduct should properly balance three values of fundamental importance to our court system: the value of courtroom civility, the independence of the judiciary, and the right of litigants to fearless and zealous representation.

The CBA is pleased with the SCC’s decision as it underlines the importance of both civility and resolute advocacy in the administration of justice. The Court also gave weight to the presiding judge’s reaction to the lawyer’s impugned conduct as a factor to consider when a law society panel assesses a lawyer’s conduct in a courtroom setting, a consideration on which the CBA had insisted in its intervention.

Kerry L. Simmons, Q.C.,
Canadian Bar Association President