The Law Society of BC Tribunal is the body that adjudicates disciplinary matters, contentious applications for enrolment in articles, call and admission, and reinstatement as a member of the Law Society.
Matters that come before the tribunal are decided by a hearing panel. Each panel includes one Bencher, one lawyer who is not a Bencher and one public representative who is not a lawyer. The Law Society Tribunal maintains a pool of 15 to 18 lawyers and another pool of 15 to 18 members of the public who are not lawyers, all of whom are trained to act as Law Society adjudicators. Both pools draw panel members from all parts of British Columbia.
What are the qualifications?
Benchers are eligible to sit on panels and review boards once they have received the appropriate training and for as long as they remain Benchers. Non-Bencher lawyers and public representatives are appointed for four-year terms and are eligible to be reappointed only once. The terms of half of the adjudicators in each pool expire every two years to allow for both continuity and regular renewal, but not too frequently.
All lawyer adjudicators are volunteers and are reimbursed only for reasonable expenses. Non-lawyer adjudicators receive a modest per diem in addition to being reimbursed for expenses.
Can a tribunal decision be reviewed?
Effective January 1, 2013, the Legal Profession Act was amended to provide for review of hearing panel decisions by a review board of Benchers, non-Bencher lawyers and public representatives. These review boards replaced reviews by the Benchers at a Bencher meeting. Review boards consist of three Benchers, which may include a non-lawyer Bencher, two lawyers who are not currently Benchers and two non-lawyer public representatives.
Who can attend a hearing?
Hearings before Law Society hearing panels and review boards are open to the public, subject to limited exceptions primarily to preserve confidentiality between lawyers and clients. All decisions of panels and review boards are published by posting on the Law Society website, although in some cases the Law Society Rules require that the name of the applicant or respondent not be published.
Under section 48 of the Legal Profession Act, all decisions of the Law Society Tribunal are subject to appeal directly to the British Columbia Court of Appeal.
Download the Law Society Tribunal Annual Report.