Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador v. Robert W. Buckingham

(Newfoundland & Labrador) (Civil) (By Leave)


Administrative Law — Standard of review — Judicial Review — Does the Vavilov framework apply to the decisions of regulatory bodies’ screening committees? — Does the framework outlined in Groia apply to a lawyer’s out-of-court statements?


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Mr. Buckingham, a lawyer in Newfoundland and Labrador, made comments to the media that became the subject of a complaint to the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Law Society’s Complaints Authorization Committee concluded that there were reasonable and probable grounds to believe that Mr. Buckingham had engaged in conduct worthy of sanction, and it issued a Letter of Counsel to Mr. Buckingham.

On Mr. Buckingham’s application for judicial review, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador concluded that the Committee’s decision was unreasonable according to the Vavilov framework. The reviewing judge quashed the Committee’s decision and the Letter of Counsel, and remitted the matter to the Committee for reconsideration. The Court of Appeal upheld the reviewing judge’s decision.

Lower Court Rulings

March 10, 2022
Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, General Division

202101G2711, 2022 NLSC 37
The decision of the Complaints Authorization Committee to issue a letter of counsel, and the letter of counsel, are quashed and the matter remitted to the Committee for reconsideration.
June 6, 2023
Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador

202201H0020, 2023 NLCA 17
Appeal dismissed. The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador’s decision is affirmed.