What is a hearing?
A hearing is a legal process used to settle certain kinds of disputes.
For example, a hearing could decide if an operation should be licensed. Or, a
hearing could decide how to dispose of detained product.
A hearing works
in some ways like a legal court. Like in court, both sides of the case will present
evidence. But instead of a judge, a Director under the Act is in charge of the
hearing and will make the final decision.
The hearing gives the Director
under the Act a chance to hear both sides of the case before making a decision.
As the hearing process is conducted under the rules of the Statutory
Powers Procedures Act, hearing decisions are determined with respect to the
Who attends a hearing?
can expect to see at least three other people at your hearing:
Director or Deputy Director under the Act conducts the hearing. He or she establishes
the procedures and determines all other matters related to the conduct of the
- The Hearing Co-ordinator supports the Director during the hearing.
For example, he or she will make sure the Director has all the necessary papers
- An Operations Liaison/Intelligence Officer will likely represent
the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. This person may bring witnesses
to present the ministry's evidence in the case.
As a party to the
hearing, you should plan to attend. You may also bring witnesses to present evidence
in support of your case.
Note: All hearings are public.
In most cases, anyone can observe. However, the Director may decide to exclude
the public from some parts of a hearing if confidential, personal or financial
information is being presented.
What happens if I don't
attend my hearing?
If you are properly
served with notice of your hearing and do not attend at the set time and location,
the Director may proceed in your absence. If this happens, you will not be entitled
to any further notice of your hearing. If you comply with the law in question
before your hearing, the Director may cancel the hearing.
Where are hearings
If you are located within a two-hour
drive from Guelph, your hearing will likely take place in the hearing boardroom
of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. This boardroom is located
at the ministry's Guelph office complex. However, every effort will be made to
hold the hearing in a convenient place for all parties.
When you arrive
in the boardroom, you will notice that it looks a lot like a courtroom. The Director
will sit in the centre. The Hearing Co-ordinator and the Ministry representative
will sit to the left. As a party to the hearing, you will sit to the right.
a witness is called to testify, he or she will be asked to sit between the ministry
and the other parties, facing the Director. Any observers sit behind the witness
chair. It is a general practice at hearings to require witnesses to either swear
an oath on the Bible or make a solemn vow to tell the truth.
Should I hire
This is your choice. You may
present your case yourself. Or, you may ask a lawyer or another person to represent
you. Most cases that come before the Director do not involve lawyers.
can I prepare for my hearing?
a note of all the circumstances and evidence that you want to present. Check the
accuracy of your information.
- Be prepared to prove your case and present
everything that is relevant to it. Do not assume that the Director knows the details
or the arguments in favour of your case.
- Ensure that you bring with
you and present any documents or other pieces of evidence that explain or support
your position. This can include photographs or other records. These documents
should be disclosed to the Ministry before the hearing.
- Ask witnesses
who have related information to attend the hearing and present their evidence
on your behalf. The Director may accept second-hand (hearsay) evidence. But in
most cases witnesses with the most direct (first-hand) knowledge are the most
persuasive. These witnesses can be very important to your case if important facts
are in dispute. It's in your best interest to make sure they attend.
Before the day of your hearing you will receive a copy of all documents and written
evidence to be presented. This includes ministry witness statements, if there
are any. If it is not possible to send you these documents in advance, you will
receive copies on the day of the hearing. You may then ask for an adjournment
or for time to review the documents before the hearing starts.
happens during the hearing?
Hearings follow the
rules set out in the Statutory
Powers Procedure Act. The process is similar to many court proceedings. It
provides for a fair, orderly, and unbiased process. At the beginning of the hearing,
the Director will explain how it works. You will find there are three main parts:
The Director asks the parties involved (the
Ministry representative and you are parties to the hearing) for opening statements.
This may include:
- a brief outline of the evidence you will present
- a list of your witnesses
- what decision you feel would be fair
2. The Ministry's evidence
presents its evidence through witnesses. Each witness will answer questions in
- Initial questions from the ministry representative
Questions from you
- Possible re-examination from the Ministry representative
- Questions from the Director, if any
3. Your evidence
the ministry has presented all its evidence, you will present yours. As a party
to the hearing, you may want to testify yourself and/or call other witnesses.
If you have witnesses, you will be asked to question them. Then, you and/or your
witnesses will answer further questions in this order:
from the ministry representative
- Possible re-examination from you
Questions from the Director, if any
it is a general practice at hearings to require witnesses to either swear an oath
on the Bible or make a solemn vow to tell the truth.
4. Summary statements
all the evidence is presented, each party may make a summary statement (called
a summation). This will be a brief summary of:
- the evidence you presented
- the arguments that support the decision you feel is fair
all of the evidence and summations have been heard, the hearing is concluded
will I learn the results of the hearing?
will receive the decision in writing, usually within 21 days after the hearing
is over, however, there may be a verbal decision given at the conclusion of the
hearing. You will receive the original decision document by courier. Decisions
are public documents and the ministry posts them on its website.
I do if I disagree with the decision?
appeal a decision if:
- there was a negative impact on your licence
other decision under the Milk Act
You must file your appeal with
the Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal.
Toll Free: 1-888-466-2372
What language will the hearing use?
may be held in English or French.
For hearings in French: You
may give your evidence in French or make submissions in French if you request
this in advance. You must make your request at least 10 days prior to the hearing.
This is to allow time to arrange for interpretation and translation.
other languages: If you require an interpreter in a language other than
English or French is required, you must notify the Director and provide the interpreter
at your own cost.
For more information, contact:
The Hearing Coordinator
Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
1 Stone Road West, 5SE
Guelph, Ontario N1G 4Y2
Tel: (519) 826-4537
Fax: (519) 826-3940
For more information: