Doctrine of Functus Officio
The Changing Face of Finality’s Old Guard
Keywords:Administrative Law, Civil Procedure, Functus Officio, Res Judicata, Issue Estoppel, Administrative Policy, Administrative Tribunals, Chandler, Judicial Review, Administration of Justice, Appeal, Abuse of Process
The doctrine of functus officio has a very low profile in academic literature, especially juxtaposed with its doctrinal cousin, res judicata. The lack of attention belies the important role that it plays in the orderly administration of justice. This article chronicles the origins of the doctrine, its expansion into the administrative law context, and the cracks in the jurisprudence that have surfaced since Chandler v Alberta Association of Architects, a decision in which the Supreme Court of Canada called for flexible application of functus officio to administrative decision-makers. The article culminates with a proposed new framework of analysis for determining when to suspend operation of the doctrine in the administrative context.