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Appeal Panel Jurisdiction Questioned

Published: February 5, 2019 7:20 pm ET

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On Monday, February 4, in a Toronto hearing room, a three-person Judicial Review Panel heard arguments from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, contending that the Horse Racing Appeal Panel did not have the jurisdiction to rule over a recent case.

Recently HRAP ruled in favour of appellants, Tammy Aspden, Linda Wellwood and Anne Shunock related to the return of purse money from a 2015 Ontario Racing Commission ruling.

During the hearing, the lawyer for AGCO argued that HRAP did not have the power to overrule the Registrar because it is inconsistent with the legislation which gives the Registrar "the power to govern, control, direct and regulate horse racing in the province, in all of its forms."

According to AGCO legal council, "The HRAP had no authority," and "Any decision made under the statutory authority is non reviewable by the Appeal Panel."

Legal Council for the Horse Racing Appeal Panel was also present, arguing that the Appeal Panel didn't waive the Rules of Racing in modifying the decision made by the Commission. In fact, he argued, the Panel acted fully within its jurisdiction.

The lawyer for HRAP pointed to wording in the Rules of Racing indicating that any person aggrieved by a ruling of the judges, the Registrar, or the governing officials may appeal a decision to the Horse Racing Appeal Panel.

"The Registrar has made himself subject to these rules... The Registrar is saying that there is the right of appeal to HRAP."

Legal council for HRAP argued that the AGCO position is a "Hail Mary" and the case is a cookie cutter, straight-forward case.

The lawyer representing Tammy Aspden, Linda Wellwood and Anne Shunock pointed out that his clients turned to the HRAP based on the Registrar's own rules that aggrieved parties were entitled to appeal to the Panel. "The Act provides for a route of appeal."

It is expected that a ruling will be made in the weeks to come. Trot Insider will provide an update when a ruling is announced.

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