Highlights of Amendments to the BC Code

July 2024
A new process is established for the remote execution of affidavits (Appendix A, rule 1 and commentary [12]).

June 2024
A minor amendment clarifies that the rule on single-party communications with a tribunal does not apply to mediations (rule 5.1-2.3 commentary [3]).

March 2024
New commentaries address the level of technological competence required of lawyers (rule 3.1-2 commentaries [4.1] and [4.2]).

January 2024
A website reference is updated (rule 3.7-1 commentary [7]).

July 2023
The section on discrimination and harassment has been significantly expanded and now includes a new rule on reprisal and commentary with specific examples (section 6.3) – for more information, see the News item.

April 2023
The Benchers have adopted new provisions from the Federation of Law Societies’ model code dealing with ex parte proceedings (rules 5.1-2.2 and 5.1-2.3)

September 2022
The commentaries to rules 3.4-1 and 3.4-2 have been amended to better reflect Canadian law on conflicts of interest and to more closely align with the Federation of Law Societies' model code.

October 2021
Commentaries have been amended to remove gendered language, to update references and to correct minor grammar and punctuation issues (rules 2.2-1 commentary [1], 3.1-2 commentary [13], 3.2-1 commentary [4], 3.2-7 commentary [3], 3.2-8 commentaries [1], [4] and [5], 3.2-9 commentary [1], 3.4-1 commentaries [6] and [8], 3.4-2 commentary [7], 3.4-18 commentary [1], 3.4-29 commentary [3], 3.7-1 commentaries [6], [7] and [9], 5.1-2 commentary [3], 5.5-6 commentary [1], 6.1-1 commentary [1], 6.1-3 commentary [1], 6.2-2 commentary [1], 7.1-2 commentary [3], 7.2-7 commentary [2], 7.2-8 commentary [2], 7.2-11 commentary [3], 7.2-12 commentary [1], Appendix A, rule 1 commentaries [3], [7], [8], [10], [12], [14], [17] and [20] and Appendix B commentaries [2], [4] and [6]).

July 2021
References to “insurance” are updated to “indemnity” and related terms, and unnecessary gender language is removed (rule 3.4-26.2, commentaries [1] and [2]).

March 2021
An incorrect rule reference is updated (rule 3.4-4, commentary [4]).

January 2021
The commentary to rule 3.2-7 is amended to clarify lawyers’ professional responsibilities and to address concerns that lawyers’ trust accounts not be used for the purpose of money laundering or other prohibited transactions (rule 3.2-7, commentary [3.1]).

December 2019
Potentially stigmatizing language has been removed from the duty to report a lawyer, and the related commentary has been amended to remove barriers for lawyers who may seek help for mental health challenges (rule 7.1-3 and commentary); effective January 1, 2020, references to the “insurance” program have been updated to “indemnity” and “indemnification” to align with changes to the Legal Profession Act (rules 7.1-2, 7.6-1 commentary [1], 7.8-1 commentary [1], 7.8-2 and commentary [1], 7.8-3 and 7.8-5).

May 2019
Minor text changes bring the BC Code more closely into line with the Federation of Law Societies' model code and correct a gender-specific reference (rule 3.3-3, commentary [5]).

December 2018
Minor text and style changes are made for consistency and to remove a gender-specific term (rule 3.7-2, commentary [1]).

March 2017
Lawyers have a duty to sign court orders that have been granted or agreed to, notwithstanding subsequent instructions of a client to the contrary (rules 3.7-9, commentary [6] and 5.1-2, commentary [5]).

December 2016
An Introduction to the BC Code has been adopted, based on the preface in the Federation of Law Societies' model code; language rights provisions from the Federation's model code are adapted for BC (rules 3.2-2.1 and 3.2-2.2, including commentary); and a rule regarding incriminating physical evidence is also adapted from the model code (rule 5.1-2.1, including commentary). 

November 2016
The transferring lawyer rules have been amended to more closely align with the rules in the Federation of Law Societies' model code (BC Code rule 3.3-7, including commentary, rule 3.4-11, commentary [1], rules 3.4-17 to 3.4-26 and Appendix D, which was rescinded). 

An amendment adopted in June 2016 has been corrected (BC Code rule 3.4-11.4, commentary [2]).

June 2016
The rules for “limited representation” have been amended to more closely align with the “short-term summary legal services” rules in the Federation of Law Societies’ model code (BC Code rule 3.1-2, commentary [7.2] and rules 3.4-11.1 to 3.4-11.4, including commentary).

May 2016
References to the Supreme Court Civil Rules have been updated (Appendix A, Rule 1, commentaries (11], [16] and [20]).

December 2015
With the supervising lawyer’s permission, designated paralegals may represent clients at family law mediations (rule 6.1-3.3 and commentary) and guidance is provided to those supervising lawyers, including on recognizing family violence and giving legal advice (Appendix B commentary and Appendix E, Screening for family violence and Designated paralegals giving legal advice). 

July 2015
A lawyer must promptly notify the client, other counsel and the court or tribunal of the lawyer’s withdrawal from a file (rule 3.7-9); Rule references are updated to reflect the new Law Society Rules 2015, which came into effect on July 1, 2015 (rule 3.4-17, commentary [5], 3.6-8, commentary [3] and 6.1-3.3, commentary [1]).

June 2015
Following a consultation with the profession, the Benchers have amended the rule on statements of accounts, in particular the duty of candour owed to clients regarding fees and other charges (rule 3.6-3, commentary [1]).

April 2015
Confidentiality restrictions are amended to allow parenting coordinators some discretion to disclose information (Appendix B, paragraph 4).

January 2015
In December 2014, the Benchers amended the meaning of “institutional lender;” that amendment is now rescinded, while a consultation with the profession takes place (Appendix C, paragraph 4, commentary [1] and [2]).
[See also: Ethics Committee consults lawyers regarding changes to “institutional lender” in BC Code.]

December 2014
What is meant by “institutional lender” is set out in more specific terms (Appendix C, paragraph 4, commentary [1]); the criteria for what is not a “simple conveyance” are expanded (Appendix C, paragraph 4, commentary [2]); a paragraph reference is corrected (Appendix C, paragraph 2).

October 2014
Rule 4.2-6 (Former firm of current judge or master) is rescinded, as already covered in another rule and for consistency with the model code.  

July 2014
As a result of recommendations from the Alternative Dispute Resolution Task Force, a preamble was added to the BC Code to remind lawyers that the Code governs their conduct, not only in the practice of law, but in other activities as well. Amendments were also adopted that recognize the difficulty of distinguishing between legal advice and legal information and permitting a lawyer, in certain circumstances, to act for both spouses in a divorce action (section 5.7, commentary [1], [1.1] and [5]).

November 2013
The standard for determining conflicts with clients is modified to be consistent with the definition of "conflict of interest" (rule 3.4-26.1).

September 2013
The Benchers have adopted new provisions in the Federation Model Code of Conduct dealing with limited scope retainers (definition of "limited scope retainer" and rules 3.1-2 commentary [7.1], 3.2-1.1, 7.2-6 and 7.2-6.1). 

April 2013
The rule prohibiting dishonesty, crime or fraud applies, whether or not that conduct takes place in the context of a lawyer-client relationship (rule 3.2-7); an inconsistency with the Legal Profession Act provisions covering contingent fee agreements is corrected (rule 3.6-2, commentary [1]); the rule on disbursements and "other charges" is rescinded for further study and consultation (rule 3.6-3, commentary [1]); the list of circumstances that requires a lawyer to obtain approval from the Law Society before professionally associating with a person is expanded (rule 6.1-4); before proceeding by default in a matter, a lawyer must give notice to another lawyer who has been consulted (rule 7.2-1, commentary [5]). 

January 2013
Effective March 18, 2013, new requirements are established for lawyers acting as family law arbitrators, mediators and/or parenting coordinators, as recommended by the Family Law Task Force and in anticipation of the new Family Law Act (Appendix B).

January 1, 2013
The new Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia (the BC Code) takes effect.