Suspension of veterinarian may cause irreparable reputational harm: Alberta Court of Appeal

Suspension and publication order were stayed

Suspension of veterinarian may cause irreparable reputational harm: Alberta Court of Appeal
Veterinarian appealed his suspension and publication order, among others

The Alberta Court of Appeal ruled that reputational harm is an irreparable harm that warranted the stay of a one-month suspension and publication order imposed upon a veterinarian.

Dr. Ignacio Tan III, a veterinarian, was suspended by a Hearing Tribunal of the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association for communications and discharge instructions with clients and breach of a previous order.

The Tribunal imposed upon Tan a suspension of 30 days, publication order, and fine, among others. Tan appealed to the Council of the Association, which affirmed the Tribunal’s decision.

Tan sought a stay of the judgment pending appeal to the appellate court. Tan argued that the one-month suspension will result in loss of income and have negative implications on his reputation.

The appellate court agreed.

Suspension and the publication order may inflict reputational harm that is irreversible

In Tan v Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2022 ABCA 413, the appellate court found that the reputational harm that Tan would sustain constituted irreparable harm that warranted a stay of the judgment pending appeal.

The appellate court considered that the impact of a professional’s honest answer to his clients that he was suspended had a real potential for reputational or stigmatic consequences which cannot be unwound. A similar situation will arise in the publication order, said the court. Further, if the judgment was not stayed, the appeal could be rendered nugatory, said the court.

Further, the balance of convenience favours granting of the stay since the question in these circumstances is simply whether the suspension starts right away or gets moved down the line, said the court.

As for loss of income, the appellate court ruled that financial consequences do not constitute irreparable harm. The fine imposed upon Tan will not be stayed, as they do not meet the standard of irreparable harm or balance of convenience, said the court.

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