If the Credentials Committee has concerns about the character or fitness of an applicant, it can order a hearing.

Credentials hearings take place at the Law Society's office in Vancouver and are similar to court hearings, with both the Law Society and the applicant represented by a lawyer. Hearings are open to the public subject to the hearing panel's jurisdiction. Some portions of the hearing may be held privately to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of privileged or confidential information.

The hearing panel is chaired by a lawyer, and includes at least one Bencher who is a lawyer, a non-Bencher who is a lawyer, and a member of the public who is not a lawyer.

Hearing panels have three possible outcomes. They may:

  • grant the application,
  • grant the application subject to conditions, or
  • reject the application.

Hearing panels issue written reasons for their decisions. Effective September 2018, credentials decisions do not identify the applicant, unless the applicant consents in writing or the subject matter of the application, including the identify of the applicant, is known to the public (Rule 2-104).

Both the Credentials Committee and the applicant have the right to apply for a review of a hearing panel's decision. Such reviews are heard by a review board comprising five adjudicators: two Benchers, including the chair, two non-Bencher lawyers and one non-lawyer. The applicant also has the right to appeal the decision to the BC Court of Appeal. The Credentials Committee has a right of appeal only on questions of law.

A person who is the subject of a credentials hearing must submit a deposit as security for costs. In setting the amount to be deposited, the Credentials Committee may take into account the circumstances of the matter including, but not limited to, the applicant's ability to pay and likelihood of success.