*2023 Results: Approx. 99% of Mark Zinck's clients avoided a criminal record (conviction) for charges of theft, fraud, assault, mischief and threats.

Professional regulatory complaints and compliance defence lawyer in Ontario, Canada

Defend complaints made to professional regulatory bodies that can jeopardize your license, career and reputation.

For working professionals who are governed by professional regulatory bodies (aka “colleges”) all it takes is one complaint being made against you for an investigation to commence and disciplinary action being taken against you. You may be asked to respond to claims of improper conduct, noncompliance, or incompetence. Those under investigation are often asked to formally respond in writing to the allegations and produce various documents and business records.

If you are subject to such an investigation, it is essential that you retain a lawyer with extensive knowledge of the statutes, rules, regulations and prior case decisions of your profession to assist you with this process as soon as possible.

Depending on the results of the investigation the complaint may be escalated to a hearing, tribunal, or other regulatory administrative disciplinary proceeding.

A licensed professional may make statements in the beginning of the investigation that will later be used against them in the disciplinary process. Even if you accept that you may have done something wrong and take responsibility for your actions, it is essential that you hire legal counsel to ensure everything is done to obtain the lowest possible sanction. This often requires legal research of past decisions and presenting your case to the investigator/regulator or tribunal in a mitigating way.

Having a lawyer represent and communicate with the regulatory body as soon in the process as possible is recommended especially given their broad powers to force your compliance and co-operation. Any complaint, no matter how frivolous, must be properly responded to and dealt with. While it is very easy to be the subject of a false complaint, your license, reputation, and future career advancement will be contingent on the outcome of the proceedings.

The powers of professional regulators are broad and open ended but not without exceptions. They are still subject to judicial review and in some cases a lawyer can successfully challenge requests to produce certain documents and business records. This can include challenging written production requests, subpoenas and summons to witnesses.

If I didn’t do anything wrong why do I need a lawyer?

When a professional complaint is made your reputation and career is put at risk. While you may have done nothing wrong, you still take a tremendous loss simply by being put through the process of dealing with the complaint and proving you complied with all the rules. Something you may see as innocuous in your response may backfire and work against your own interests. The regulator may hone in on something that you did not expect would be the subject of professional disciplinary action as a result of the complaint.

Many professionals, who are worried about their career and reputation, may first respond with emotion and in ways that are not in their best interest. Since any member of the public can easily file a disciplinary complaint against a professional, claims of wrongdoing are often unvetted and riddled with inaccuracies. A professional may be keen to point out these obvious errors and mistakenly miss other points raised in the complaint that could give rise to problems.

Any professional that is the subject of a regulatory investigation should immediately take steps to try to get ahead of and mitigate potential problems. Having a complaint made against you represents a serious threat to your reputation, career advancement, and license to practice.

What if I complied with all of the regulations and the complaint against me has no merit?

Some professional regulatory bodies will dismiss claims on their own without input from the professional member. Others may want your input in all circumstances. Each professional regulatory body operates differently. In self governing professions, different systems have been independently established to respond to claims being made against members. It is important to note that even a meritless claim may blossom into something much more serious and impactful.

In Ontario, professional regulatory bodies are considered to be a privilege granted by the government to allow certain occupations to govern themselves (as opposed to the government itself making the rules and regulations). Professional regulatory mandates usually encompass both the protection of the general public (ensuring competence) and maintaining confidence in the profession. As such, claims tend to fall under two umbrellas:
  1. Professional misconduct
  2. Conduct unbecoming
The boundaries of what constitutes each of these is often blurry and depends on the subjective interpretation of various statutes, regulations, rules, and previous case decisions of each profession.

How come I am being singled out or targeted for behaviour that is normal practice within my profession (ie. everyone else is also doing it)?

Since situations are often novel and complaints can be made by competitors or other financially motivated third parties, often a person who is subject to a complaint or investigation will say "but everyone else is also doing it". They often say this for good reason as the practices complained of may be standard in their industry/career field. Part of the defence of those who are singled out and targeted as a result of a complaint may be demonstrating that the behaviour complained of is reasonable and normal practice in their profession.

It would be unfair and a clear violation of natural law to prohibit or punish a professional for doing something while simultaneously allowing other members of the profession (perhaps their competitors) to continue to do the same thing themselves. The laws, regulations and standards should be applied equally.

What sort of third parties make complaints against working professionals?

Complaints and compliance investigations usually originate from:
  1. Unhappy clients or patients
  2. Other members of the profession (often competitors)
  3. 3rd party members of the public
  4. Internal investigations by the regulator
  5. Insurance claims
  6. Criminal charges
  7. Referrals made by judges in court
  8. Civil lawsuits
It is not always an unsatisfied client or member of the public making the complaint, sometimes it is other members of the profession who, for whatever reason, do not like something you are doing. Allegations can be motivated by many different things including competitors who are looking to put you out of business for their own benefit. As such, they may complain to the professional governing body claiming that you are doing something that you shouldn’t be.

Unlike in the criminal justice system where the onus is solely on the Crown Attorney to prove the allegations, in the professional regulatory context the professional is required to cooperate, produce records and formulate a proper response to defend themselves and their livelihood.

Failure to adequately respond to a complaint can lead to many potential consequences including:
  1. Referral to administrative tribunals
  2. Capacity proceedings
  3. Suspensions
  4. Reprimands and other public notices of wrongdoing
  5. License revocations
  6. Restrictions and limits on their ability to work in their career field
  7. Fines, costs, and other monetary penalties
Even if a person does not ultimately lose their license they may have to change the way they operate their business or have their reputation smeared by the process. Regulatory bodies have very broad powers to force compliance upon their members.

Information about the complaint can show up in online searches for their name and business which damages their personal and professional reputation (reducing their career earning capacity).

Most professional regulatory bodies will publically release all decisions on their website with the names of their members who are subject to investigation. While in the past this information was much harder to find, today it is all online. A simple internet search of the person’s name will usually show what misconduct they are alleged to have committed. This makes the person look bad even if they are completely innocent.

People are trained to think “where there is smoke, there must be fire”. This may be true in relation to fire, but it is not true when it comes to allegations of wrongdoing being made against professionals. Since anyone can make an allegation without repercussions for being wrong, it is easy to be unfairly subject to false claims. There are also many reasons that inspire and motivate people to make false allegations such as the desire to eliminate business competitors, mental health/addiction problems, jealousy, anger etc. Even a scorned lover could file a complaint as revenge for perceived personal wrongdoings.

Properly responding to allegations of professional or personal misconduct now must incorporate handling your online presence and managing any damaging consequences to your reputation. You want to respond through counsel in a way that minimizes both the chances of escalating the matter with the regulatory body and preserves your professional reputation as much as possible.

The definition of "conduct unbecoming a professional" is a subjective concept that is often unclear and open to interpretation.

Many claims against professionals are that they have done something that constitutes “conduct unbecoming” of a member of their profession. While the alleged unbecoming behaviour may have nothing to do with their job or performance of work related tasks, regulation is sought on the basis that they did something that makes their profession look bad.

While some things are objectively easy to see as conduct unbecoming, such as committing a criminal offence, claims are often based on other forms of behaviour that are not illegal. Conduct unbecoming is often a subjective concept. People, and professional regulators, will have different opinions as to what constitutes conduct unbecoming. There is not always an obvious “bright line” being crossed in a lot of cases.

You can be targeted for something you didn't even say or do. Some complaints are that you simply "implied something" you shouldn't have.

Worse yet, sometimes complaints are based on a third party's inference that you said or did something you didn't actually say or do. The professional may not have said or done anything wrong, but is instead accused of “implying” something. Essentially the 3rd party making the complaint is putting words/actions in the professional’s mouth and then making a complaint based on their opinion of their own inference.

Such claims are often made by co-workers or competitors who are jealous of someone else's success or have other grievances against them. They may also relate to alleged perceived sexual advances that never actually happened. Sometimes these false allegations are made to support a civil lawsuit against the professional and their workplace.

Unfortunately, if you are subject to such a complaint, not only will it require your time and resources to respond to it properly, you must also now live with the stress and uncertainty of not knowing what is going to happen to your career. Most professionals have spent many years in university and building their businesses and careers afterwards. When all their work is put in jeopardy based on someone else suggesting they did something wrong it is a very scary and threatening process to go through.

Whether the conduct is unbecoming or not will be decided by the members of their own profession who have been entrusted to judge each case and make decisions. They must balance the protection of the public with the incredible responsibility of making decisions that impact the livelihood of their members.

What constitutes "professional misconduct" at work?

If the complaint is that you improperly provided advice, care, or otherwise were negligent in your professional dealings, the complaint will usually fall under the category of professional misconduct. These complaints normally are made by clients/patients or other members of your profession who do not like something you did on the job. They may allege that you are incompetent and that the public is thus at risk.

The regulatory body will fully examine the complaint and what you did to determine whether you should be allowed to continue to work/practice. Professional misconduct complaints often result from a third party who isn’t happy with how things turned out. You may have done nothing wrong and are merely the victim of circumstances beyond your control. This is particularly offensive to hard working professionals who bend over backwards to try to help people.

Something may have gone wrong at work or didn't work out as planned leading to a complaint of professional misconduct or wrongdoing.

Unfortunately, things will not always go the way you planned. Many professional decisions are more of an art than a science. They involve subjective concepts of what the "right way" is where the course of action chosen may simply have turned out to be the wrong one. In these cases it is essential that you have counsel respond to the allegations on your behalf to prove to the regulator that your actions were reasonable and competent given the circumstances.

Your lawyer must examine previous decisions by the regulatory body in dealing with similar complaints and demonstrate that your actions were reasonable and consistent with prior conduct ultimately deemed to be appropriate. The best response to such allegations often requires substantial research of prior decisions made by the tribunal and courts along with all of its governing statutes, rules, and regulations.

False complaints to regulatory bodies can be motivated by a desire to hurt or punish the professional by someone who is offended, triggered, financially motivated, or simply doesn’t like them.

The person filing the complaint may not have even bothered to contact you first to try to discuss and resolve their issue beforehand.

While most professional bodies in Ontario encourage people to address their issues with the specific member of the profession they have a problem with directly before filing a complaint this does not mean that people always do this. Professionals are often blindsided by complaints being made against them. Sometimes it is other members of their profession that file the complaint and don’t even bother to contact the person first to discuss or address their issue.

While perhaps it was a misunderstanding that could easily have been addressed satisfactorily, the complainant instead first goes directly to the regulator to file a complaint. The complaint may have very little merit, or be based on fictitious portrayals of behaviour that did not happen, but still the working professional will now have to spend months or even years worrying about the process as it makes its way through the system with no guarantee as to what the outcome will be.

Since a complaint can be made by anyone, it is ripe for problems. People with an ax to grind or seeking a professional of financial advantage can make complaints to harm the working professional. Sometimes complaints are made by people whose view is distorted by mental health or addiction problems. The professional may be completely blindsided by the complaint or it may happen despite their best effects to resolve the disagreement with the complainant beforehand.

What if the regulator rules against me? Is there any way to appeal their decision?

Professional regulatory bodies and tribunal decisions can be appealed through a process known as a judicial review or court appeal. Appeals are time sensitive and often must be acted on as soon as possible to preserve your rights. Obviously the goal is to avoid being in the position of having to appeal a decision to begin with, but if a decision has already been made please contact us regarding your next steps and possible options.

In addition to appealing the regulatory decision in some cases there may also be civil lawsuits or criminal proceedings that also need to be defended. Some complainants may not only file a complaint with the professional regulatory body but also try to sue you civilly as these processes are not mutually exclusive. They may also feel having a decision from the regulator in their favour will encourage you to settle a lawsuit against you for financial compensation.

If a professional regulatory complaint is made against you, you should hire a lawyer immediately to defend your reputation and career.

If you are the subject of a complaint or investigation it is in your best interest to hire a lawyer as soon as possible to start working on your case and provide your response to the regulator. If you have an ongoing matter or are looking to appeal or challenge a compliance or production order, you also should hire a lawyer immediately.

While it is extremely easy for a claim to be made against you, properly responding to it is much more difficult. Our lawyers provide effective, affordable and discreet professional regulatory defence representation. If you have been subject to a complaint please give us a call for a free consultation.

Professionals we can help defend and their associated regulatory bodies:

Please note this is not an exclusive list. If your profession and associated regulatory body is not listed above we can still help you. Give us a call now for a free no obligation consultation.

   Call us today.

You don't have to jeopardize your future or waste thousands of dollars on excessive legal fees. We provide effective and affordable lawyer representation for those facing professional regulatory body complaints and investigations throughout Ontario, Canada.

Have a skilled lawyer represent you and protect your professional license, standing, and reputation.

    call now: 647-228-5969


Your case will be defended by a fully licensed Practicing Lawyer of the Law Society of Ontario. Please see our Terms & Conditions of Use here.

We provide our clients with:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • 99%+ non-conviction success rate
  • U.S. travel advice and information
  • Help with related immigration/IRCC issues
  • Employment background check advice/services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • Clear goals of getting charges dropped and bail conditions varied without a trial
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Experienced, focused counsel

* Please note:

If you are not a paying client, we cannot answer questions and provide assistance about avoiding jail and/or a criminal record, employment background checks, IRCC/immigration applications and status, or travel to the U.S. in the future. This includes those who have already retained other counsel and those whose cases have already been completed.

Please note: We do not accept legal aid certificate cases. All clients are handled on a private retainer only. Not all cases are handled personally by Mark Zinck, nor does Mark Zinck warrant to be an expert in or practice in all areas of law and topics discussed on this website including, but not limited to, civil, administrative, and/or regulatory law.

*2023 Results: the percentage of 99% of clients avoiding a criminal record (conviction) stated on this page is based solely on Lawyer Mark Zinck's personal representation of approximately 2000 criminal defence case clients as of the year 2023. Past results are not necessarily an indication of future results.


Your questions and concerns are extremely important to me.


Error: please enable JavaScript and reload this page before using the form.

   Criminal Information:

   We provide:
  • Flat fee pricing
  • 99%+ non-conviction success rate
  • U.S. travel advice and information
  • Help with related immigration/IRCC issues
  • Employment background check advice and services
  • Fingerprints and records destruction services
  • A clear goal of getting the charges dropped without a trial
  • Vulnerable Sector records suppression help
  • Timely resolutions
  • Lawyer/client privilege
  • Experienced, focused counsel