Keywords:Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act – s. 96(1); Charter – s. 11(d); R. v. Wigglesworth  2 S.C.R. 541; Tolko Forest Products v. Forest Practices Board (Forest Appeals Commission, Appeal No. 95/02, November 12, 1996) .
Mr. Hollis appealed a decision by an Administrative Review Panel confirming a determination that he had harvested Crown timber without authorization. The Appellant argued that the Ministry of Forests (“the Ministry”) lacked sufficient evidence to find the contravention. He further submitted that a criminal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt should have applied, given the quantum of the penalty (which he characterized as penal), rather than the civil standard of proof on a balance of probabilities.
The Commission found that it is not necessary to find the Appellant in violation of each and every activity listed in s. 96, nor to specify exactly what elements of the section were breached. It was found that the evidence, including witness testimony, photographs, and stumps matching logs on the Appellant’s property, was sufficiently direct and compelling to link the Appellant to the contravention. Regarding the appropriate standard of proof, the Commission found that a civil standard applies to administrative penalties under the Code. The standard of proof is not determined on a fact specific basis, but rather on the basis of the legislative scheme. Furthermore, the argument that the penalty is penal in consequence was not supported by evidence. On a balance of probabilities, the evidence supported the determination against the Appellant. The Commission noted that the evidence was compelling enough to support a finding against the Appellant even if a criminal standard had applied. The Commission dismissed the appeal.