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2.2 Commencement of Proceedings
2.2.1 Role of Clerk (Assistant to the Board)
Although the clerk, whose duties are described in the Benefit Manual, is an official of the Commission, he or she plays an indispensable role as an agency that is independent of the Board of Referees.295 Citation 295 This role is essential to the application of the principles of natural justice. The clerk prepares the hearing schedule, sends notices of hearings with copies of the appeal docket, summons the chairperson and members in rotation, acts on the requests of the chairperson or the Umpire, as appropriate, ensures that the hearing room is prepared, recordings are made of the hearings and, if necessary, organizes telephone hearings and so on. The clerk accordingly acts as the agent of the board even if it is not a permanent institution.
Once the chairperson is appointed, the clerk is accountable to him or her because the chairperson is responsible for the procedure. However, if an incident occurs before the hearing, such as a request for an adjournment, for example, the clerk informs the other parties by telephone and then informs the chairperson, who decides whether or not to grant the adjournment. If the chairperson refuses the adjournment, the clerk, with the chairperson's authorization, records the request for adjournment and attaches it to the record as an exhibit.
At the conclusion of the hearing or process, the clerk ensures that the board's decision is recorded in writing with all the relevant details, signatures and dissenting opinions, if any. The decision is officially communicated by the chairperson to the office of the Commission through the clerk, who also ensures that it is communicated to the parties.