Compensation: Claims for Lawyer Theft

Every lawyer in BC carries trust protection coverage. If a claim is made against a lawyer relating to theft by the lawyer of money or other property, this coverage reimburses the claimant, on the lawyer's behalf, for the amount of the loss.

The Law Society requires lawyers to be honest. But if you think your lawyer has stolen from you:

  • You can make a complaint. The Law Society's Professional Conduct department investigates complaints about lawyer conduct. These investigations are independent from claims for compensation. If you would like to file a complaint, go to File a Complaint.
  • You may be entitled to compensation under Trust protection coverage. Trust protection coverage claims are managed by the Lawyers Indemnity Fund.

Trust protection coverage

Since 1949, the Law Society has provided financial protection so that innocent members of the public do not suffer hardship because of the actions of a dishonest lawyer. If your lawyer has stolen money or other property from you, you may be entitled to make a claim for reimbursement.

How to make a claim

You must provide written notice to the Lawyers Indemnity Fund within six months of becoming aware of the lawyer's theft and within 10 years of the theft.

Contact Michael Mulhern for information about trust protection coverage and how to make a claim.

You do not need to hire a lawyer to assist with a claim, but there may be situations where you might wish to obtain your own independent legal advice about your claim.

Claims processing

Once the Lawyers Indemnity Fund receives notice of a claim, it is assigned to a lawyer who will review the claim to determine whether it meets the criteria for payment under trust protection coverage.

As soon as the Lawyers Indemnity Fund has received necessary information from you, investigation into the claim begins. Although the length of time required to conduct the investigation depends on various factors, such as other parallel investigations into the lawyer, we will work to resolve your claim as quickly as possible.

Eligible claims

Before a trust protection coverage claim will be considered for payment, the following three requirements must be met:

  1. The claim must be the result of dishonest appropriation – in other words, the lawyer stole money or other property.
  2. The property in question must have been received by the lawyer acting in their capacity as a lawyer.
  3. The claim cannot be connected to the wrongful or unlawful conduct, fault or neglect by you or your spouse or anyone associated with your organization and you cannot have obtained the lost property unlawfully.

There may be other policy terms that limit your entitlement to reimbursement, although they are unlikely to apply to most claims.

Ineligible claims

Trust protection coverage will not compensate you in cases where:

  • your lawyer has been careless or negligent, or
  • there is a dispute over fees.

Claim limits

Trust protection coverage will reimburse you, on behalf of the lawyer who has stolen your money, for the value of the money taken. If the property taken isn't money, you will be reimbursed for the property's actual cash value at the time the property was taken.

You may recover up to $300,000 per claim. Different limits apply if your lawyer was practising in another province. If you are considering entrusting your lawyer with a sum of money greater than $300,000, you may want to enquire whether the lawyer has purchased additional trust protection coverage.

The amount paid will be reduced by any monies otherwise available to you, the lawyer, or the lawyer's law firm, to repay the stolen funds.

For more information or to make a claim, go to the Lawyers Indemnity Fund website.