Appeal Process

The exact process and timelines of an appeal process will be based on your specific appeal.

When you file an appeal with BCFIRB, you are entering into a legal process and will need to follow specific steps required by BCFIRB. As a tribunal, BCFIRB is committed to a user-friendly process and will clearly direct both you and the BCSPCA in the steps you need to follow.  

Unless your appeal is only about costs, you must first ask the BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA) to review its decision to take custody of your animal(s) before filing an appeal with BCFIRB. This is a requirement of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

If your animal is taken into custody by the BCSPCA, you will be given a Notice of Disposition that explains how to ask for a review. It is important you follow the BCSPCA instructions for asking for a review.

Read more about BCSPCA Review

The owner, operator in relation to, or the custodian of the animal sends a completed Notice of Appeal, or a written statement, to both BCFIRB and the BCSPCA, and a $100 filing fee to BCFIRB, within specified deadlines.

BCFIRB sends the appellant (the person appealing the BCSPCA decision) and the respondent (the BCSPCA) a submissions schedule. The schedule sets out

  • The time in which the appellant has to make their submission to BCFIRB
  • The time for the BCSPCA to respond,
  • The time for the appellant’s reply

Written submissions, including witness affidavits and response submissions, from both the appellant and the BCSPCA must be sent to BCFIRB and copied to each other within the scheduled times laid out in the submission schedule.  Approved methods in which parties are to deliver documents to BCFIRB is outlined in the BCFIRB Document Disclosure Practice Directive (PDF).

The appellant and the BCSPCA will present their summarized arguments and requested outcomes to a BCFIRB panel. Parties may have an opportunity to question each other, and may be required to answer any questions the BCFIRB panel may have.

 Review Preparing for a Hearing (PDF)

BCFIRB will release a written decision with reasons, and send it to both the appellant and the BCSPCA. The decision will be posted to the BCFIRB web site within seven (7) days after it is delivered to the parties. BCFIRB decisions are final and only subject to judicial review by the B.C. Supreme Court.

Enforcement actions can be taken if:

  • The person who filed an appeal does not pay the costs as ordered and/or does not follow BCFIRB animal care orders once an animal is returned
  • The BCSPCA does not return an animal as directed by BCFIRB

If one of the parties (person who filed the appeal or the BCSPCA) is not following a BCFIRB direction or order, the other party can file a certified copy of the direction or order with the B.C. Supreme Court. 

Once the order is filed, if it is determined that the party has not followed BCFIRB’s direction, he or she may be found in contempt of court. Contempt of court may be punishable by fine or imprisonment.

There is no time limit on filing a BCFIRB order with the B.C. Supreme Court

A settlement agreement is one alternative to a formal hearing. At any time during the appeal process, you or the BCSPCA may ask BCFIRB to explore the potential for settlement of all or part of an appeal.

A formal hearing always remains an option, even during facilitation or mediation focused on reaching a settlement agreement, until you withdraw your appeal.

BCFIRB staff can assist in several ways, including, but not limited to:

  • Connecting parties with appropriate experts
  • Facilitating communication between you and the BCSPCA
  • Drafting a settlement agreement

At the BC Farm Industry Review Board (BCFIRB) we are constantly trying to improve our service and would like to hear your feedback on how we performed.

BCFIRB conducts ongoing user experience surveys of persons involved in its appeals and complaints processes. Survey invitations are sent to appellants, complainants, respondents, legal counsel, and intervenors involved in a hearing.

Individual responses are confidential and anonymous and are not shared with BCFIRB members. Information or reports generated or published from survey responses present data in aggregate form only, protecting individual confidentiality and anonymity. The information is used to identify, evaluate and implement client service and business process improvements within BCFIRB

BCFIRB appeal decisions are subject to judicial review. This includes both decisions that come after hearings, and decisions to summarily dismiss appeals without a hearing.

To start a judicial review of a BCFIRB appeal decision, you need to file a petition with the B.C. Supreme Court within sixty (60) days of a BCFIRB panel decision. 

A petition must allege that BCFIRB:

  • made unreasonable findings of fact or law or exercise of discretion;
  • acted in a procedurally unfair manner; or
  • made an incorrect jurisdictional decision.

If you wish to appeal a decision of the B.C. Supreme Court, you can appeal to the Court of Appeal upon obtaining leave to do so (permission from a justice of the Court of Appeal).

Example of a Judicial Review Decision: BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v British Columbia Farm Industry Review Board - December 19, 2013

If you have a concern about BCFIRB's practices and/or services, you can file a complaint with the B.C. Ombudsperson. Concerns can include things like lengthy delays, rudeness, negligence, arbitrariness, oppressive behaviour or unlawfulness.

The B.C. Ombudsperson is an independent Officer of the Legislature who upholds the principles of openness, transparency, and accountability. The role of the Ombudsperson is to ensure that every person in B.C. is treated fairly by government bodies.

After investigating a complaint, the Ombudsperson can, when appropriate, recommend changes for resolving an unfair situation. However, the Ombudsperson does not have the authority to order changes to BCFIRB processes, policies or decisions.

 

Proceedings before BCFIRB are public in nature. They result in written decisions which are published on our website. All persons testifying before BCFIRB are advised that their identities, any testimony given or documents received may be disclosed. BCFIRB may order that the information be withheld from publication if it was received in confidence and/or it was received through an in-camera process: see s. 61 of the Administrative Tribunals Act.   

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