Panel: Katherine Lewis, David Ormerod, Brenda Milbrath
Keywords:Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act – ss. 67(1), 117(4)(b); due diligence; officially induced error
The Appellant appealed a Review Panel decision upholding the determination of the District Manager that the Appellant had contravened section 67(1)(e) of the Code. The District Manager levied a penalty of $48,498.69 (less a $10,620.69 credit). The Review Panel varied the penalty to $35,919.38. The District Manager made the determination and calculated the penalty in response to directions provided by the Commission in a previous appeal concerning this matter. The Appellant sought an order reducing the penalty.
The Commission found that, as it had already made a decision relevant to this matter in a previous hearing, its role in this instance was limited to determining whether the previous directions of the Commission were followed. The Commission found that it was also required to determine whether the penalty that was assessed based on its previous directions was reasonable, since this was the first time it had been considered by the Commission.
The Commission confirmed that, as stated in several of its previous decisions, the defence of due diligence is not available in administrative penalty situations, but may be taken into account when assessing the quantum of the penalty. However, the Commission found that Takla presented no compelling evidence to show that it was duly diligent.
The Commission also confirmed its finding in previous decisions that the defence or excuse of officially induced error is available in the context of administrative penalties. However, the Commission found that the criteria required to establish such a defence had not been met in this case.
The Commission found no reason to reverse the Review Panel’s decision regarding the penalty.