gavel on a laptop

The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) has ruled that a disciplinary action brought by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) can proceed as an electronic hearing, over the objection of the respondent in the case.

The OSC rejected an appeal from Bardya Ziaian, who objected to an IIROC hearing panel’s decision to switch from an oral to an electronic hearing in his case due to public health restrictions prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the OSC decision, Ziaian filed a motion with the IIROC panel, seeking to have his case continue as an in-person hearing, as originally scheduled, or that it be permanently stayed.

The panel rejected the motion and that decision was then appealed to the OSC.

“Mr. Ziaian argues that IIROC did not have authority to change the mode of the hearing over his objection,” the OSC decision noted.

However, the provincial regulator sided with the self-regulatory organization hearing panel, ruling that IIROC can hold the hearing electronically.

The OSC differed from the IIROC panel in its reasoning, but it ultimately reached the same conclusion.

“I heard no convincing argument that a videoconference hearing deprives a respondent of due process or fairness,” the OSC said in its decision. “Indeed, such a conclusion would be contrary to commission and judicial authority on the subject.”

The OSC also rejected the argument that IIROC was scheduling in-person hearings in British Columbia, noting that, “Public health advice (which varies by jurisdiction) has changed frequently in response to the changing circumstances… Evidence or assertions about what may have been happening in other venues inside or outside of Ontario, or at different times, are irrelevant.”