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The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal — is there an appetite for costs awards?

By Catherine Coulter

No client likes to have a human rights application brought against it before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. And no client is happy to hear that even if it is successful and fully exonerated, there is no real scope for recovering legal costs incurred in defending the application. What may just be an unhappy cost of doing business for organisations is even more problematic for individual respondents, however, as they may be saddled with large legal bills and have no real recourse against the applicant. This can be particularly problematic under the current human rights scheme in Ontario, where applicants can bring forward complaints without incurring the cost of retaining legal counsel or paying any filing fees, and without any screening of the legitimacy of the complaint by the tribunal. In relation to the awarding of costs, however, the situation may be about to change…

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