April 20, 2011

Panellist Profile: Geoff Thiele, Director, Legislation, Ethics & Compliance, Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC

Administrative Law
Inquiry and Investigations
News and Events
Professional Regulation

We continue profiling speakers on the regulatory panel for our conference. This week we introduce Mr. Geoff Thiele, Director of Legislation, Ethics and Compliance for APEGBC.

TOPIC: PAST AND CURRENT CHALLENGES – Mediation and other off-ramps on the “Complaints Super Highway”

Mr. Thiele is a graduate of the University of Toronto Law School, and practiced municipal and insurance law in the Lower Mainland for a number of years. Following that, he worked as a claims adjuster, investigating professional liability claims against engineers, architects, surveyors and a wide variety of other professions. He joined APEGBC as Associate Director, Regulatory Compliance in 2004, eventually becoming Director, Investigation and Discipline and more recently, Director, Legislation, Ethics & Compliance.

APEGBC is the self-regulating body responsible for the licensing and oversight of 20,000+ engineers and geoscientists in British Columbia.  In the last few years, this SRO’s litigation has been at the forefront of professional regulatory law, with one prominent case being Salway, where the Court of Appeal found the Association’s contractual alternative complaint resolution process to be unlawful(for a summary click here). One of the outcomes of this case has been a concerted focus by APEGBC on reviewing the routes by which APEGBC can resolve complaints.

Mr. Thiele will discuss the challenges presented by APEGBC’s legislative framework (the “Complaints Super Highway”) and the many off-ramps he has considered: which ones work, which ones don’t work, and ones he is still trying to find (like an off-ramp to deal with complaints that appear to be made for improper purposes, but which meet the low statutory threshold to trigger a full investigation which inevitably results in a dismissal of the complaint). One interesting-off ramp Mr. Thiele will speak about is mediation by an independent third party. APEG has been using independent mediation, and has found it to be a successful and economical way to resolve complaints.

The structure of any self-governing regulatory body includes processes in the inquiry and disciplinary phases to resolve complaints without hearings.  The variety and complexity of informal, alternative, or formal dispute resolution mechanisms will depend on the enabling legislation, the by-laws, and the creative problem solving abilities of regulators and defence counsel.  Come to the Conference to listen to Mr. Thiele talk about APEGBC’s experience in building off-ramps from the complaints super-highway.  For a Conference  agenda click here and for registration click here.