Human Rights Advisory Services

Human Rights Advisory Services
Human Rights Advisory Services

Carlisle v University of Victoria. [2009] BCHRTD No. 352


The complainant is a man with HIV/AIDS who applied three times to law school at the University of Victoria.  He filed three human rights complaints; the first two were settled, the third (and present) one was dismissed by the Tribunal.

In 2003, Carlisle’s first law school application was rejected because UVIC refused to waive its requirement for an LSAT score.  UVIC settled his subsequent human rights complaint in 2004; it allowed Carlisle to reapply without an LSAT score on condition that he provided medical documentation establishing his medical inability to write the LSAT.  In exchange, Carlisle agreed to drop the complaint.

In 2004, Carlisle’s second law school application was rejected because UVIC determined that Carlisle had failed to comply with the conditions set forth in the settlement agreement.  UVIC settled his second human rights complaint in 2004; it allowed Carlisle to audit a course at UBC in 2005. In exchange, Carlisle agreed to drop the complaint and never to pursue it in the future.

In 2005, Carlisle’s third law school application was rejected.  This time he applied through the special access program.  In response, Carlisle filed his third complaint of discrimination on the basis of disability against the University.

The Tribunal reports that “the substance of Mr. Carlisle’s complaint is that UVIC’s special access program imposes identical academic standards as those required for all law school applicants, does not relax those requirements for prospective students with health conditions which affect their ability to attain those standards, and does not consider non-academic accomplishments in addition to, or instead of, academic ones” (para 52).

UVIC provided evidence to the contrary. The Tribunal found that:  

“The qualifications of special access applicants are compared only against other applicants in that category, not against applicants in other categories. In each case, UVIC looks for “substantial evidence of potential success in law school” first by considering the applicant’s GPA and LSAT score, and then by considering occupational achievements, community , public service and cultural activities a, and letters of reference. “ (para 56)

UVIC provided the following stats:  the 15 successful applicants, six of whom had medical issues, had three years of post-secondary education and much higher GPA’s and LSAT scores than Carlisle.


1)      Does the complaint have reasonable prospect of success?


1)      No


1)      “On a consideration of all the material before me on this application, I conclude that Mr. Carlisle has no reasonable prospect of success of establishing his assertions about UVIC’s processes and standards are well-founded, and thus his complaint has no reasonable prospect of success. “  (59)

2)      “The material before me suggests that, far from denying Mr. Carlisle admission because of his disability, his disability was the only basis for UIC to consider his application at all. When it did so, it compared him to other special access applicants, on criteria which she does not suggest are arbitrary or irrelevant, and determined that others were better qualified for the limited number of available places. For this reason, as well, I find that Mr. Carlisle’s complaint has no reasonable prospect of success.”  (67)


[1] Other issues were raised, but this is the one relevant to this forum. Amongst those were applications to dismiss on the basis that 1) the Tribunal lacked jurisdiction to hear complaints previously settled at the University 2) the proceeding would not further the purposes of the code and 3) the complaint filed for improper motives or made in bad faith. The Tribunal rejected these arguments 1) because the complaint was not attempting to re-litigate previous complaints that had been settled; 2) because the 2004 settlements had not dealt with the underlying issues of discrimination and 3) because the factual inaccuracies of Mr. Carlisle do not amount to bad faith.