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    IN THE MATTER of a claim

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    IN THE MATTER of an appeal to an Umpire by the claimant from a decision by the Board of Referees given on October 30, 2008 at Nanaimo, British Columbia.


    The Honourable R.J. Marin

    [1] This claimant appeal was heard in Victoria on February 27, 2009.

    [2] The claimant appeared before a Board of Referees, appealing a ruling of the Commission to the effect she voluntarily left her employment without just cause within the meaning of ss. 29 and 30 of the Act.

    [3] The proceedings were not recorded. She states she was advised to consider no recording in order to adopt a more informal approach to the proceedings. Whether the suggestion of a more informal approach of proceedings came from the Chair of the Board or one of the members is unclear and immaterial at this point.

    [4] In any event, in the absence of a record of what transpired, she explains she felt she did not get a fair hearing. The Chair of the Board is alleged to have made rather derogatory remarks and several improper comments about both the claimant and the circumstances she found herself in.

    [5] I need not express at great length my strong feelings that a hearing before a Board is a formal hearing, members are expected to behave in a quasi-judicial manner, they cannot interrupt unnecessarily, they cannot relate their personal life experience to those of the claimant, nor can they make light of a claimant's representations. Issues cannot be taken lightly.

    [6] I have some reservation about what took place. In the interest of the administration of justice, I am returning this matter to a differently constituted Board, urging the members of the Board to approach the matter in a professional manner, with total neutrality and impartiality and set aside any bias or prejudice with respect to circumstances relating to matters coming before them.

    [7] The appeal is therefore allowed to the extent that it is returned to a newly constituted Board. The impugned decision is to be removed from the file of appeal.

    R.J. MARIN


    OTTAWA, Ontario
    April 7, 2009