Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia (the BC Code) – annotated

Effective January 1, 2013; updated June 2024
Annotations are up to date as of 2015.

Highlights of amendments to the BC Code

The rules in this Code should guide the conduct of lawyers, not only in the practice of law, but also in other activities.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 – Interpretation and Definitions

1. 1 Definitions

Chapter 2 – Standards of the Legal Profession

2.1 Canons of Legal Ethics

To the state
To courts and tribunals
To the client
To other lawyers
To oneself

2.2 Integrity

Chapter 3 – Relationship to Clients

3.1 Competence


3.2 Quality of service

Quality of service
Limited scope retainers
Honesty and candour
Language rights
When the client is an organization
Encouraging compromise or settlement
Threatening criminal or regulatory proceedings
Inducement for withdrawal of criminal or regulatory proceedings
Dishonesty, fraud by client
Dishonesty, fraud when client an organization
Clients with diminished capacity
Restricting future representation

3.3 Confidentiality

Confidential information
Use of confidential information
Lawyers’ obligation to claim privilege when faced with requirement to surrender document
Future harm / public safety exception

3.4 Conflicts

Duty to avoid conflicts of interest
Concurrent representation with protection of confidential client information
Joint retainers
Acting against former clients
Short-term summary legal services
Conflicts from transfer between law firms
Application of rule
Law firm disqualification
Transferring lawyer disqualification
Lawyer due diligence for non-lawyer staff
Conflicts with clients
Doing business with a client
Independent legal advice
Investment by client when lawyer has an interest
Borrowing from clients
Certificate of independent legal advice
Lawyers in loan or mortgage transactions
Guarantees by a lawyer
Testamentary instruments and gifts
Judicial interim release
Space-sharing arrangements

3.5 Preservation of clients’ property

Preservation of clients’ property
Notification of receipt of property
Identifying clients’ property
Accounting and delivery

3.6 Fees and disbursements

Reasonable fees and disbursements
Contingent fees and contingent fee agreements
Statement of account
Joint retainer
Division of fees and referral fees
Exception for multi-disciplinary practices
Payment and appropriation of funds
Prepaid legal services plan

3.7 Withdrawal from representation

Withdrawal from representation
Optional withdrawal
Non-payment of fees
Withdrawal from criminal proceedings
Obligatory withdrawal
Manner of withdrawal
Duty of successor lawyer

Chapter 4 – Marketing of Legal Services

4.2 Marketing

Application of rule
Content and format of marketing activities 
Notary public

4.3 Advertising nature of practice

Preferred areas of practice
Real estate sales
Multi-disciplinary practice

Chapter 5 – Relationship to the Administration of Justice

5.1 The lawyer as advocate

Incriminating physical evidence
Duty as prosecutor
Disclosure of error or omission
Agreement on guilty plea
Ex parte proceedings
Single-party communications with a tribunal

5.2 The lawyer as witness

Submission of evidence

5.3 Interviewing witnesses

Interviewing witnesses

5.4 Communication with witnesses giving evidence

Communication with witnesses giving evidence

5.5 Relations with jurors

Communications before trial
Disclosure of information
Communication during trial

5.6 The lawyer and the administration of justice

Encouraging respect for the administration of justice
Seeking legislative or administrative changes
Security of court facilities

5.7 Lawyers and mediators

Role of mediator

Chapter 6 – Relationship to Students, Employees, and Others

6.1 Supervision

Direct supervision required
Suspended or disbarred lawyers
Electronic registration of documents
Real estate assistants

6.2 Students

Recruitment and engagement procedures
Duties of principal
Duties of articled student

6.3 Harassment and discrimination

Sexual harassment

Chapter 7 – Relationship to the Society and Other Lawyers

7.1 Responsibility to the society and the profession generally

Regulatory compliance
Meeting financial obligations
Duty to report
Encouraging client to report dishonest conduct

7.2 Responsibility to lawyers and others

Courtesy and good faith
Inadvertent communications
Undertakings and trust conditions
Trust cheques
Real estate transactions

7.3 Outside interests and the practice of law

Maintaining professional integrity and judgment

7.4 The lawyer in public office

Standard of conduct

7.5 Public appearances and public statements

Communication with the public
Interference with right to fair trial or hearing

7.6 Preventing unauthorized practice

7.7 Retired judges returning to practice

7.8 Errors and omissions

Informing client of errors or omission
Notice of claim
Responding to client’s claim

Appendix A – Affidavits, Solemn Declarations and Officer Certifications

Affidavits and solemn declarations
Witnessing the execution of an instrument

Appendix B – Family Law Mediation

Obligations of family law mediator or arbitrator or parenting coordinator when participants unrepresented
Obligations of family law mediator or parenting coordinator
Obligations of family law arbitrator
Lawyer with dual role

Appendix C – Real Property Transactions

Acting for parties with different interests
Simple conveyance
Advice and consent
Foreclosure proceedings
Unrepresented parties in a real property transaction

Appendix D – Conflicts Arising as a Result of Transfer Between Law Firms [rescinded 11/2016 – see rules 3.4-17 to 3.4-23]

Appendix E – Supervision of Paralegals

Key concepts
Best practices for supervising paralegals
Best practices for training paralegals
A checklist for assessing the competence of paralegal
Screening for family violence
Designated paralegals giving legal advice

About the BC Code

On January 1, 2013, the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia (the BC Code) replaced the Professional Conduct Handbook as the governing document concerning professional responsibility for BC lawyers.

For more information, including a Table of Concordance between the BC Code and the Professional Conduct Handbook and a PDF of the Handbook as of December 2012, go to About the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia.

Member's Manual

Need to print some or all pages of the Act, Rules or Code? Go to Member's Manual.