Arising out of an application for a provisional injunction, the
Superior Court of Quebec was recently tasked with considering
whether certain officers of the Students' Society of McGill
University (SSMU) sufficiently abided by the society's internal
At the end of May, the SSMU found itself defending against an
injunction application after the Judicial Board of the SSMU
rendered its decision to disqualify the plaintiff, Tariq Khan, from
Presidency of the SSMU shortly after his election. The basis for
the disqualifications were several alleged violations of the
campaign process. Alleging that his rights to due process and
provision of full defence were breached, the plaintiff sought to
have suspended the original and appellate decisions of the
elections officers and Judicial Board, respectively, as well as to
be reinstated as President pending the final judgment on the
hearing of the permanent injunction.
After satisfying itself that the urgency and irreparable harm
criteria for the granting of an injunction had been met, the Court
proceeded to consider whether the rights asserted by the plaintiff,
were clear, doubtful, nonexistent, or fell somewhere on the
spectrum between the former and the latter.
Of particular importance to not-for-profit corporations is the
extent to which the Court relied on SSMU's by-law to determine
whether it should suspend the decisions rendered first by the
elections officers and subsequently by SSMU's Judicial Board.
In response to the specific actions requested of the Court by the
plaintiff, the Court cited several provisions of the SSMU by-law
which led to the following conclusions:
There was nothing in the by-law which restricted the elections
officers from undertaking the investigation against the
The written decisions rendered by the elections officers were
objective and thorough;
There were no procedural irregularities sufficient to support
the suspension of the disqualification statement rendered by the
Because the by-law compels the Judicial Board to hear and
adjudicate appeals within the semester in which they are launched,
the Judicial Board did not act precipitously in rendering a
decision on the same day of the hearing.
Because the elections officers and the Judicial Board adhered to
the processes outlined in SSMU's by-law, the Court rejected the
argument that the plaintiff had a clear right to be reinstated as
President. Resultantly, after then proceeding to conclude that the
balance of convenience in not issuing the provisional injunction
favoured SSMU, the Court denied the plaintiff's
Tariq Khan v. Students' Society of McGill
University serves as a reminder that an organization's
internal procedures are subject to judicial review and officers
acting in an administrative capacity are bound to respect
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