The Child Welfare Act established a "child abuse register", a list of individuals who had been reported by children's aid societies as having abused children. Any individual on the list was entitled to notice and to make an application to be removed from the list, following a hearing. JB had such a hearing and was denied removal from the list. He appealed on the basis that the alleged victim had not been called as a witness and thus he had not been able to cross-examine her.
- Was JB denied procedural fairness in this case?
Craig, writing for the court, found that the hearing officer was entitled to rely on the hearsay evidence of the social worker who heard the original abuse allegation under s. 15(1) of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act, however because JB had been unable to cross-examine the alleged victim, in this case that reliance amounted to a denial of natural justice. While the victim had not been called because she had subsequently recanted the allegations, he held that the prior inconsistent statements would have gone to credibility - it would still have been open on the evidence for the hearing officer to believe the social worker's earlier evidence, though he admits this would have been next to impossible.
Denial of cross-examination can result in a denial of natural justice in circumstances such as the above.