Hearing Process

do you want help with your academic discipline matter?

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


You are responsible for maintaining and advising the University, using the Repository of Student Information (ROSI), of a current and valid postal address as well a current and valid “utoronto” email address; if you choose, you can also provide an additional email address that you access/use, send/receive correspondence from, and check on a regular basis.

This responsibility to maintain updated contact information on ROSI will be used by the University and possibly by the Tribunal to presume that you have received copies of the charges, notices of hearing, and related documents sent to the most recent addresses provided.

Failure to maintain, update and regularly check for correspondence may result in missing important information. This will not be considered an acceptable rationale for failing to receive official correspondence from the University.

You are expected to monitor and retrieve your mail, including electronic messaging account(s) issued to you by the University, on a frequent and consistent basis. You have the responsibility to recognize that certain communications may be time-critical.

You are also expected to respond to communications from the University as required. See the Policy on Official Correspondence with Students.

Remember that the ADFG Office does not provide legal advice. Students are encouraged to seek representation

If the Provost lays charges against you, the ADFG Office will be involved with you at various points before and after the hearing. Listed below are some specific points when the ADFG Office will get involved: 

  • When the Provost lays charges to provide you with information about the process and where you can get help 
  • Schedule hearing dates
  • Notify you about your hearing 
  • Attend as Secretary at your hearing
  • Inform you about your hearing outcome
  • Send you the written decision from the Panel
  • In the case of expulsions, will outline the process and advise you of the Governing Council's conclusion with respect to its decision
  • Outline the process if a party files an appeal

ADFG Office

If the Provost has laid charges, the ADFG Office will send you a letter to provide you with information about the academic discipline process and where you can get assistance with your case.

The ADFG Office will also schedule a hearing date.

Once a hearing, including date, time and room location has been confirmed, a Notice of Hearing will be issued in writing. Click here to see a sample Notice of Hearing.

NOTE: The hearing may proceed in your absence if you do not attend.

Discipline Counsel 

Discipline Counsel presents the case for the Provost at the hearing. They will provide disclosure of relevant evidence to you in advance of the hearing.

Discipline Counsel will usually attempt to contact you or your representative to discuss your hearing. They may explore whether the issues can be narrowed, and whether they can come to an agreement with you on any facts or proposed sanctions.

Discipline Counsel will also provide disclosure. This means that you or your legal counsel will receive a package of documents which contains all the information that has been assembled by the Faculty or Division and the Provost's Office during the investigation of the alleged misconduct, including transcripts of meetings with the Dean or Dean's designate.

Your Responsibilities

You are responsible for the following:

  • Obtaining representation, if desired, as early in the process as possible;
  • Cooperating with scheduling the hearing dates;
  • Preparing for the hearing;
  • Obtaining any medical or other evidence you wish to rely on at the hearing;
  • Attending and participating in the hearing.

An attempt will be made for a hearing to be set at a date and time that is convenient for you and Discipline Counsel, where possible. Please note that in the event that you receive a Notice of Hearing and fail to attend, the hearing may proceed in your absence.

Hearings usually begin at 9:45 a.m., 1:45 p.m., or at 5:45 p.m. The duration of each Tribunal hearing varies as each case is unique. We suggest that hearing attendees reserve at least six (6) hours in their calendar. Hearings have been known to conclude in as little as three (3) hours but have also been known to take multiple days. For this reason, we ask that attendees bring their calendars to the hearing to facilitate scheduling if another day is needed. For hearings beginning at 5:45 p.m., we suggest that attendees keep their entire evening free. 

If you need a disability-related accommodation to participate in this academic discipline process, please review and follow the procedure set out in the Protocol for Requesting Accommodation for Disabilities in the Academic Discipline Process.


Discipline 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, that is, the three (3) panel members, the accused, with counsel if applicable, Discipline Counsel, with a divisional representative (or representatives), witnesses and the ADFG Secretary or designate. 

Each hearing proceeds differently and at the discretion of the Chair. Below is general information about what you can usually expect to happen at a hearing.

Opening Remarks:

  • The Chair of the Panel will make introductory remarks and will introduce him or herself and the other panel members.
  • Discipline Counsel will introduce him or herself and introduce any advisors or observers that they have brought with them.
  • You and your representatives will introduce yourselves.

Opening Statements:

  • Discipline Counsel will usually make an opening statement. You or your representative may also choose to make an opening statement at the outset. If you are not represented by legal counsel, the Chair will guide you through the hearing process. 
  • Discipline Counsel or you can raise any preliminary issues, which will be addressed by the panel.  These may include adjournment requests (e.g. to postpone the hearing), exclusion of witnesses (e.g. not include certain witnesses during certain parts of the hearing), evidentiary issues (e.g. not allow or give weight to evidence) or other motions.

If you are not in attendance:

  • The panel will determine whether to proceed in your absence.  Where you have been provided with adequate notice of the hearing, the hearing will usually proceed.


  • If you are unable to attend your hearing in person, it is possible to attend via Skype, as per the Rules of Practice and Procedure, but you must make a request. If the Chair approves the request, the ADFG office will be in touch with you to arrange a Skype test that must be conducted 3-4 days before the hearing. Normally, you must also submit any documentation you wish to rely on during the hearing to the ADFG office one week in advance of the hearing, to afford ample time for preparation.


  • Discipline Counsel will present evidence on behalf of the Provost, which may be in the form of documentation or oral testimony, which Discipline Counsel says establishes the offence. You or your representative may cross-examine any of Discipline Counsel's witnesses.
  • The burden of proof is on Discipline Counsel who must show on clear and convincing evidence that the accused has committed the alleged offence. The standard of proof is referred to as the "balance of probabilities", which means that Discipline Counsel must prove that it was more likely than not that the accused committed the offence.
  • You then have the opportunity to provide documentary or oral evidence. Discipline Counsel may cross-examine any of your witnesses.
  • The Panel may ask questions of either side or of the witnesses during the presentation of evidence.

Submissions on Finding (Guilt or Non-Guilt):

  • After all of the evidence has been heard, Discipline Counsel will make submissions to the Panel summarizing the relevant facts and law to support the Provost's request for a finding by the Panel that you have committed the alleged offence(s). You will then respond with your submissions in support of the finding you wish the Panel to make on the issue. Discipline Counsel will then have an opportunity to make Reply Submissions.

Panel Deliberates with Respect to Guilt:

  • Following the presentation of evidence and argument, the Panel deliberates in camera (privately, between the panel members only) on whether or not the evidence establishes that you are guilty or not guilty. The Panel may issue its decision verbally to those in attendance at the hearing, with written reasons to follow, or it may reserve its decision and issue it at a later date.

Submissions on Sanction (Penalty):

  • If a determination of guilt is made at the hearing, the Panel will then move to consider the appropriate sanction.
  • Either Discipline Counsel and/or you or your representative may choose to call evidence with respect to the issue of sanction, although neither is required to do so.
  • Discipline Counsel and then you or your representative will make submissions regarding the appropriate sanction.

Panel Deliberates with Respect to Sanction (Penalty):

  • The Panel again deliberates in camera in order to determine whether it can immediately determine the appropriate sanction, and if it can, what is that sanction.
  • If a sanction is determined at the time of hearing, it will be announced, and it may be incorporated in a signed Order. In such cases, the sanction(s) will be immediately implemented, unless directed otherwise, and even if the Student is not in attendance. The period for appeal is immediately triggered in these situations.
  • Please see section "What Sanctions (Penalties) are Available to the Panel?".

Reasons for Decision and Sanction:

  • The Panel may provide reasons for its decision on the commission of the offence and/or penalty at the time of the hearing, or it may decide to provide written reasons at a later date. Once the deliberation has been completed, it generally indicates that the hearing is over. The Chair will inform everyone when the hearing has concluded.

The Panel

Panels are composed of three people, the Chair, who is legally qualified, one faculty member, and one student member. Panel members are neutral, and do not know the Student or have any prior knowledge about the Student’s case. The Chair is responsible for running the hearing, answering any questions, drafting the final decision of the Panel for approval by all of the Panel members.

Discipline Counsel

The University hires Discipline Counsel from the law firm Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP to prosecute Academic Discipline cases. Discipline Counsel represents the interests of the University.


A representative from the Division to which the Student belongs, who may be a Dean’s Designate or other Divisional Representative. If you are a graduate student, your division is always the School of Graduate Studies (SGS). 


Witnesses may be called by either Discipline Counsel or the Student.  Each case is different. Some cases have multiple witnesses and others have none.


The Secretary of the Tribunal is the Director of the ADFG Office or his or her designate. The role of the Secretary is to record the hearing, mark exhibits and answer questions regarding process. He or she does not have a speaking role at the hearing.


The Student can choose to attend the hearing or not, with or without counsel.

However, if the Student chooses not to attend a hearing, the hearing may proceed in the Student's absence. Not attending can also be a relevant consideration in the sanction stage.


Observers sometimes attend hearings and they may include:

  • The Student’s family and/or friend(s);
  • A member of the Tribunal who is not a panel member for that particular hearing;
  • Articling students, or others invited by Discipline Counsel;
  • Other individuals from Downtown Legal Services (DLS);
  • A University employee connected to the case.

Discipline 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, that is, the three (3) panel members, the accused, with counsel if applicable, Discipline Counsel, with a divisional representative (or representatives), witnesses and the ADFG Secretary or designate.

Hearings can proceed even if you decide not to attend.  If you choose not to attend and the hearing proceeds in your absence, you will be notified about your hearing outcome in writing. Not attending can also be a relevant consideration at the sanctioning stage.
Please see section "What Happens at an Academic Discipline Hearing?" for more information on what happens at a hearing.

For a comprehensive list of sanctions available to the University Tribunal/Powers of the University of Toronto, please see Section C.ii.(b) of the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters. Also, for information on the types of sanctions that the University will be seeking, see Appendix "C" of the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters for the Provost's Guidance on Sanctions, Offences and Suggested Penalties for Students.


1. One or more of the following sanctions may be imposed by the Tribunal upon the conviction of any student:


Oral and/or written reprimand


Oral and/or written reprimand and, with the permission of the instructor, the resubmission of the piece of academic work in respect of which the offence was committed, for evaluation. Such a sanction shall be imposed only for minor offences and where the student has committed no previous offence;


Assignment of a grade of zero or a failure for the piece of academic work in respect of which the offence was committed;


Assignment of a penalty in the form of a reduction of the final grade in the course in respect of which the offence was committed;


Denial of privileges to use any facility of the University, including library and computer facilities [and deactivation of one’s University of Toronto email account];


A monetary fine to cover the costs of replacing damaged property or misused supplies in respect of which the offence was committed; 


Assignment of a grade of zero or a failure for any completed or uncompleted course or courses in respect of which any offence was committed;


Suspension from attendance in a course or courses, a program, an academic unit or division, or the University for such a period of time up to five years as may be determined by the Tribunal. Where a student has not completed a course or courses in respect of which an offence has not been committed, withdrawal from the course or courses without academic penalty shall be allowed; 


Recommendation of expulsion from the University. The Tribunal has power only to recommend that such a penalty be imposed. In any such case, the recommendation shall be made by the Tribunal to the President for a recommendation by him or her to the Governing Council. Expulsion shall mean that the student shall be denied any further registration at the University in any program, and his or her academic record and transcript shall record this sanction permanently. Where a student has not completed a course or courses in respect of which an offence has not been committed, withdrawal from the course or courses without academic penalty shall be allowed. If a recommendation for expulsion is not adopted, the Governing Council shall have the power to impose such lesser penalty as it sees fit;


  • (i) Recommendation to the Governing Council for cancellation, recall or suspension of one or more degrees, diplomas or certificates obtained by any graduate; or
  • (ii) Cancellation of academic standing or academic credits obtained by any former student who, while enrolled, committed any offence which if detected before the granting of the degree, diploma, certificate, standing or credits would, in the judgement of the Tribunal, have resulted in a conviction and the application of a sanction sufficiently severe that the degree, diploma, certificate, standing, credits or marks would not have been granted.


The hearing panel shall have the power to order that any sanction imposed by the Tribunal be recorded on the Student’s academic record and transcript for such length of time as the panel considers appropriate.


The Tribunal may, if it considers it appropriate, report any case to the Provost who may publish a notice of the decision of the Tribunal and the sanction(s) imposed in the University newspapers, with the name of the Student withheld.

Expulsion and degree recall, suspension or cancellation are the most serious sanctions that can be imposed. However, the Tribunal can only recommend that these sanctions be imposed.  It does not have the authority to impose the sanctions outright. For these sanctions to take effect, the recommendation must be accepted by the President, and then must be approved by the Governing Council.

If the Tribunal has made a determination concerning the offence or the appropriate sanction(s) at the hearing, the ADFG Office will provide written confirmation of that decision(s). Where the Tribunal has recommended expulsion from the University or degree recall, suspension or cancellation, a formal process to submit the recommendation to the Governing Council will then begin. The Governing Council will only consider the matter after the appeal period has expired.


In circumstances where the reasons for decision are not provided at the time of the hearing, written reasons for decision will be issued at a later date, normally within 90 days, although the reasons may be issued sooner, and in rare occasions may take longer.

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 any changes), and, finally, the Office will release the decision to you and the Division. It will be posted online to the ADFG website (it will not contain your name) because names are redacted as per the Code of Behaviour.  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

Tribunal decisions are reported to the Provost and are generally published with the Student's name withheld. Decisions from 1975/1976 to 1999/2000 are here.  Decisions from 2000/2001 to the present are here.  Summaries of all decisions can be found here.  Sanctions imposed by the Tribunal on the Student, may also be published on the Repository of Student Information (ROSI).


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


The Division will also be notified of the Decision, and it will make note of any sanctions ordered by the Panel on the Student's transcript and academic record, such as reprimands, suspensions, disciplinary notations, confirmed expulsions, 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.

You will be notified of the outcome of your hearing and the appeal deadline in writing within a few business days of the determination by the Panel, which may occur at the hearing or may be reserved until later. You will be given 21 calendar days from the date of the Decision (which may be communicated in the form of an Order) to file an appeal. For more information on how to file an appeal, see How to File an Appeal.

Yes, the Provost can appeal a decision of the Tribunal panel, if:

  • The Student has been acquitted and the Provost believes that there is a basis for appealing a question which is not one of fact alone; or,
  • The Provost disagrees with the sanction.