Decision to close investigation of doctor's B.C. practice not subject to review: court

Investigation ended when physician voluntarily declared he wouldn't engage in clinical practice

Decision to close investigation of doctor's B.C. practice not subject to review: court
Physician must address concerns regarding the complaints on their clinical practice

The Court of Appeal for British Columbia has upheld a chambers judge’s refusal to set aside a resolution on a practice investigation that ended because of a voluntarily executed undertaking to no longer engage in clinical practice.

In Ip v. Wilson, 2022 BCCA 59, Ip was a former registrant of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia. In 2014, he received several complaints about his conduct and, a year later, was informed that an inquiry committee would conduct a general investigation into Ip’s practice. In 2016, before the investigation started, Ip advised the college through a written undertaking that he intended to stop his clinical practice and limit his professional activities to research. Because of this, the inquiry committee closed the investigation.

A year later, Ip sent the college a request for the issuance of a certificate of professional conduct and to have it forwarded to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba. The college issued the certificate, which stipulated that Ip “must limit his professional activities to research and no longer engage in clinical practice.”

Ip voluntarily resigned from the college in 2018 and sought to have the certificate “corrected.” The college advised Ip that his standing was determined by the undertaking, which would remain in effect until he underwent “a comprehensive assessment of skill and knowledge.”

Ip filed a petition for judicial review to set aside the resolution on the practice investigation and the undertaking. Despite being unable to discern Ip’s claims, the chambers judge concluded that Ip sought to remove the undertaking from the certificate of professional standing. However, the chambers judge dismissed the petition and ruled that the decision to close the investigation “was not an exercise of statutory authority subject to judicial review.” He also ruled that since Ip resigned from the college, no useful purpose would be served by judicial review.

Ip appealed, asserting that the chambers judge should have ordered the removal of the undertaking. The appellate court disagreed and upheld the chambers judge’s decision.

“The decisions or actions of the College are not an exercise of statutory authority,” said the court in ruling that Ip was still licensed until his voluntary resignation from the college in 2018, despite being subject to his undertaking, and he could apply for reinstatement.

The court found that the college “fulfilled its public-protection mandate in a proper manner” by conducting the practice investigation, which ended because of Ip’s voluntary and informed undertaking to no longer engage in clinical practice. Ip was also informed that if he applied for reinstatement, he would have to go through the registrar to remove the undertaking, said the court.

Despite Ip’s attempt to circumvent the process, the court ruled that it “cannot provide him the remedies he seeks” and remove the undertaking. Ip must address the concerns regarding his clinical practice before the Registrar, the court said.

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