Hearing Process

Do you want help with your academic appeal?

Downtown Legal Services (DLS) can help! DLS is a legal clinic with experience representing students in the academic appeals process. It is located on the University of Toronto campus and provides free legal services to students who qualify.

Pre-Hearing

Once your Notice of Appeal has been filed with the ADFG Office, your materials will be reviewed to determine if they are complete. If the appeal package is determined to be complete, it will be forwarded to your respective Division.

PLEASE NOTE: The ADFG Office cannot provide you with advice on the merits of your case or legal advice regarding your appeal.

However, if your appeal package is not complete (e.g. missing supporting documents, missing your requested remedy, etc.) the ADFG Office may notify you about missing documents or information that you will be required to submit to the Office to complete your appeal package.

You must submit all materials by the 90th calendar day. Therefore, you are advised to submit your appeal before the 90th day in case you realize that you have forgotten certain material or evidence.

If you do not forward all of your materials to the ADFG Office by the deadline, you might not be permitted to submit them at a later date, or your file may be closed if it is determined that it is not complete.

There are circumstances when the ADFG Office may close your file without a hearing. The ADFG Office will deem an appeal abandoned and therefore closed, for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. You fail to complete your appeal with all required documentation and/or within the appropriate timelines.
  2. You do not make yourself available and/or are unresponsive to communications or requests, and you do not provide valid reasons and/or appropriate documentation to explain your unavailability/unresponsiveness.
  3. You do not make yourself available to have your appeal heard by the second available hearing week, and do not provide valid reasons and/or documentation explaining why you need the hearing deferred.

The Division has 60 calendar days to provide a Response to your appeal. The specific deadline is set out in the ADFG Office’s letter to the Division. You will receive a copy of the letter requesting a Response that is sent to the Division.

The Division provides its Response directly to our Office (which consists of 5 identical hard copies and an identical electronic copy of all of their materials, including attachments). The ADFG Office then forwards a copy of the Division's Response to you, along with a letter from the ADFG Office providing you with a two week time period in which to provide a Reply to the Division . A specific deadline will be given to you in that letter to provide your Reply, should you choose to write one.

A Reply is an opportunity for you to respond only to new information/materials that the Division has put forward that was not already addressed in your original appeal material. Your Reply should be brief, should you decide to submit one. Replies are not mandatory and you can choose not to submit one as part of your appeal. If you do choose to submit a Reply, please submit 5 identical hard copies and an identical electronic copy, including attachments, to the ADFG Office. You will be given two weeks to submit your Reply, and the deadline will be provided to you by the ADFG Office.

Panel members will get a copy of all of the materials that you and the Division have submitted in relation to your appeal. This will include your Appeal Package and supporting documentation, the Division's Response, and your Reply (if any).

The ADFG Office generally forwards these materials to your Academic Appeals Committee members three to four weeks in advance of the scheduled hearing, so that they have time to read all of the materials submitted by both parties. You should therefore assume that the panel members have read all of the materials prior to your hearing.

Normally, once the documents have been submitted to the panel, no further documents may be submitted to the ADFG Office.

Hearings are held three times a year over one (1) week during the months of October/November, March and May/June. Therefore, hearing dates and times are limited.

The ADFG Office will set your Academic Appeal hearing for the first available hearing date based on the expected submission date of all of the materials from you and the Division. For example, if you file your appeal at the end of June, the Division will have 60 days to file its Response. This will likely occur at the end of August. You will then have two (2) weeks to submit a Reply, which will give you until mid-September. The materials are then distributed to your panel at least three (3) to four (4) weeks in advance of your hearing. Therefore if the October/November hearing week is towards the end of October your matter will be heard at that time. Students are contacted well in advance of the potential hearing dates to determine their availability. You are expected to be available to attend your hearing.

If you are unable to attend your hearing during the scheduled hearing weeks, a formal written request to defer it, will have to be made to the Senior Chair, Professor Hamish Stewart via the ADFG Office, located at:

27 King's College Circle, Room 106
Simcoe Hall
Toronto, ON
M5S 1A1

Hearing

Hearings are open to the public in accordance with s. 9.(1) of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chap. S.22, as amended. Normally, however, only the individuals who are directly involved in a case will attend the hearing, such as, the three panel members (one legally-qualified Chair, one teaching staff member and one student member); the Student appellant; counsel representing the appellant, if any; the Divisional representative; counsel representing the Division, if any; and a staff member from the ADFG Office.

The Student or Division may request a closed hearing on the Notice of Appeal Form. The reasons for requesting a closed hearing will be reviewed by the Chair at the beginning of the hearing.

Hearings normally begin at 8:45 a.m. or at 1:45 p.m., and are usually held from Monday to Friday. The duration of each appeal hearing is normally approximately 2 - 3 hours, therefore a morning appeal hearing would be booked from 8:45 a.m. to 11:45 p.m., and an afternoon appeal hearing would be booked from 1:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. As hearings may take longer, you and the Division should plan to stay longer. The ADFG Office asks that you, the Division and the other attendees bring your calendars to the hearing to facilitate the scheduling of another hearing date and time, should a hearing take longer than the scheduled time.


The Chair determines how the hearing is run. Hearings do not always proceed in the same manner. Academic appeals hearings generally proceed as follows:

Introduction

• Introduction of the Committee and attendees by the Chair
• Explanation of how the hearing will proceed

Student Submissions

You will summarize your case (this may be done on your own, or through a representative/counsel). You need not repeat every detail from your documents, as the panel members will have read all of the materials in advance.

• The Committee will have an opportunity to ask you questions
• The Division's representative will have an opportunity to ask you questions

Division’s Submissions

The Division's representative will summarize its case and respond to your submissions (it may do so on its own or through counsel).

• The Committee will have an opportunity to ask the Division questions
• You will have an opportunity to ask the Division's representative questions

Student’s Reply

You can reply to the Division’s response, but only regarding new information that was raised by the Division in its submissions.

• The Committee will have an opportunity to ask you questions
• The Division's representative will have an opportunity to ask you questions

Conclusion

The panel will offer both you and the Division an opportunity to provide concluding remarks.

Deliberation

The Division, the Student and the ADFG staff will leave the hearing room, and the Committee will deliberate in private, and eventually arrive at a decision.


Please see section: "When Will I get a Decision?"

The Panel

A panel is made up of three people. One teaching staff member, one student member, and a Chair who is legally qualified. The panel is neutral and will know nothing about you or your case other than what is contained in the appeal materials submitted by you and the Division. It will make a determination about your case only after hearing the submissions from you and the Division.

The Division

The Division usually selects one or two representatives to attend the hearing.

The Division’s Counsel

The Division sometimes hires legal counsel to represent it in academic appeals matters.

ADFG Staff (as hearing Secretary)

The Director, ADFG or his/her designate serves as the Secretary at each hearing. The Secretary is neutral and does not have a speaking role at the hearing, unless he or she is asked questions by the Chair. The Secretary is responsible for facilitating the hearing procedures. These hearings are not recorded.

The Student (a.k.a. The appellant)

Most students participate in person. However, in exceptional cases, you can participate via Skype. The hearing is your opportunity to share your story with the panel, explain the remedy that you are seeking and the circumstances of your case.

Students are permitted to bring friends and family for support, but these individuals are normally not allowed to speak or participate.

NOTE: If a hearing has been confirmed by the Student and/or the Division, but one or neither party attends, the Panel may decide to proceed in the Student or Division's absence, or base its decision using only the written materials submitted by the Student and the Division.

The Student’s Legal Representative

Oftentimes, the legal representatives are law students from DLS, which is a free legal service offered to you should you meet certain criteria. You may also hire legal counsel to represent you in your academic appeal matter.

Witnesses

Generally, witnesses are not allowed at hearings as the purpose of these hearings is to review the Division/Faculty’s decision and not retry the case. It is at the discretion of the Chair to allow witnesses.

Post-Hearing

You and the Division can generally expect to receive a decision within four to six weeks after the hearing. However, it can take longer depending on the case, for example, if you have filed multiple appeals that are heard by the same panel.

The process of issuing a decision is as follows. Once the ADFG Office receives the draft decision from the panel, the Office will format it; conduct a fact and name check; circulate it to the panel again for their approval (only if there are changes), and, finally, the Office will release the decision to you and the Division and will post it online to the ADFG website because academic appeal decisions are public. It will not contain your name. The case and the decision will then be reported to the Academic Board. The case will also be summarized in the case summaries section of the ADFG website.

ADFG Office

Academic Appeals Committee decisions are reported to the Academic Board and are generally published with the Student's name withheld. Full decisions from 1973 to 1999 are here, and from 2000 to the present are here. Summaries are posted here. Remedies imposed on the Student by the Academic Appeals Committee may also be published on the Repository of Student Information (ROSI).

Provost

The Provost's Office will receive notification of the Decision at the same time as the Student.

Division

The Division will also be notified of the Decision, and it will make note of any remedies ordered by the panel on the Student's transcript and academic record, such as changes to course marks, etc.

Academic Board

Summaries of all decisions are reported semi-annually to the Academic Board, a sub-committee of the Governing Council.

The decision of the Academic Appeals Committee is final. An appeal to the AAC is the last internal avenue at the University, as governed in the Terms of Reference for the AAC.

All of your normal University appeal routes related to the academic appeals process and policy have been exhausted.