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CASUAL LEGAL: How to Deal with Adjournment Requests

February 9, 2021

SDAB Hearings - How to Deal with Adjournment Requests

By Kelsey Becker Brookes

Reynolds Mirth Richards Farmer LLP

AMSC Casual Legal Service Provider

 

As a result of the relatively short time frames which apply to Subdivision and Development Appeal Board hearings, SDABs frequently deal with adjournment requests. Under the Municipal Government Act, once a Notice of Appeal is filed, the Clerk is required to appoint a panel of members, schedule the hearing within 30 days and provide at least 5 days’ notice of the hearing to the appellants, the subdivision or development authority and affected parties.

A request for an adjournment might be raised prior to the hearing or during the hearing. The decision whether or not to grant an adjournment is one which can only be made by the Board. The Clerk cannot grant an adjournment. Therefore, while the request for an adjournment may come into the Clerk in advance of the hearing, the hearing will need to be opened within the 30 days and the request for an adjournment dealt with by the Board as a preliminary procedural matter. As all parties are entitled to speak to the adjournment request, notice should be provided to the Board and the parties that the request for an adjournment will be considered at the start of the hearing.

The right to an adjournment is a by-product of the administrative law requirement that an administrative tribunal follow a fair process in its decision-making.  The duty of fair process includes the right to know the case to be met and be given the opportunity to respond. Therefore, initial requests for adjournments due of work conflicts, pre-existing vacation plans, the desire to retain counsel or the need for additional time to prepare can all be considered reasonable grounds for granting an adjournment. Repeated or unreasonable requests may not. The length of the adjournment granted is up to the Board.   

Adjournment requests can be non-controversial or they can be challenging. While a reasonable request for an adjournment should be granted (or the Board risks a finding it breached its duty of procedural fairness), not all requests for adjournments are reasonable. Boards are required to carefully consider the reason for the request, in the context of its duty to ensure parties are able to fully and fairly participate in SDAB hearings. 


To access AMSC’s Casual Legal Helpline, AUMA members can call toll-free to 1-800-661-7673 or email casuallegal@amsc.ca and reach the municipal legal experts at Reynolds Mirth Richards and Farmer LLP. For more information on the Casual Legal Service, please contact riskcontrol@auma.ca, or call 310-AUMA (2862) to speak to AUMA’s Risk Management staff. Any Regular or Associate member of the AUMA can access the Casual Legal Service.

DISCLAIMER: This article is meant to provide information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. You should seek the advice of legal counsel to address your specific set of circumstances. Although every effort has been made to provide current and accurate information, changes to the law may cause the information in this article to be outdated.