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Chapter 2 out of 14 chapters in the annotated Professional Conduct Handbook

 

CHAPTER 2
INTEGRITY


Dishonourable conduct

1. A lawyer must not, in private life, extra-professional activities or professional practice, engage in dishonourable or questionable conduct that casts doubt on the lawyer's professional integrity or competence, or reflects adversely on the integrity of the legal profession or the administration of justice.1

Annotations

[amended 09/94]


Duty to meet financial obligations

2. The lawyer has a professional duty, quite apart from any legal liability, to meet professional financial obligations incurred or assumed in the course of practice, such as agency accounts, obligations to members of the profession, fees or charges of witnesses, sheriffs, special examiners, registrars, reporters and public officials when called upon to do so.

Annotations


Discrimination

3. A lawyer has a special responsibility to respect the requirements of human rights laws.

[added 09/94; amended 10/08]

3.1 A lawyer must not refuse to employ or refuse to continue to employ a person or discriminate against a person regarding employment or any term or condition of employment because of the race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, political belief, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation or age of that person or because that person has been convicted of a criminal or summary conviction offence that is unrelated to the employment or to the intended employment of that person.

[added 10/08]

4. Rule 3.1 does not apply

a) as it relates to age, to a bona fide scheme based on seniority,

b) as it relates to marital status, physical or mental disability, sex or age, to the operation of a bona fide retirement, superannuation or pension plan or to a bona fide group or employee insurance plan, whether or not the plan is the subject of a contract of insurance between an insurer and an employer, or

c) to a refusal, limitation, specification or preference based on a bona fide occupational requirement.

[added 09/94; amended 10/08]

4.1 A lawyer must not, without a bona fide and reasonable justification,

a)deny to a person or class of persons any service customarily available to the public, or

b) discriminate against a person or class of persons regarding any service customarily available to the public

because of the race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation or age of that person or class of persons.

[added 10/08]

5. A lawyer must not engage in any form of harassment, including sexual harassment,2 based on the prohibited grounds in Rule 3.1.

[added 09/94; amended 10/08]

6. Rules 3.1 and 4.1 do not preclude any program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups.

[added 09/94; amended 10/08]


*   *   *

FOOTNOTES:

1. A lawyer must not exploit the relationship between solicitor and client to the lawyer's own advantage. An intimate relationship between a lawyer and a client, such as a sexual one, may constitute exploitation.

An intimate relationship with a client is also likely to affect a lawyer's professional judgement, which could cast doubt on a lawyer's ability to represent the client competently. A lawyer owes each client a duty to provide objective legal advice and perform services in a professional manner. The lawyer must not permit any personal interest to interfere with that objectivity.

[added 06/95]

2. This reflects the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Janzen v. Platy Enterprises Ltd., [1989] 1 SCR 1252. The Court discusses the issue at pp. 1276-1291. Chief Justice Dickson said:

Common to all of these descriptions of sexual harassment is the concept of using a position of power to import sexual requirements into the workplace thereby negatively altering the working conditions of employees who are forced to contend with sexual demands. (at p. 1281)

Sexual harassment is not limited to demands for sexual favours made under threats of adverse job consequences should the employee refuse to comply with the demands ... Sexual harassment also encompasses situations in which sexual demands are foisted upon unwilling employees or in which employees must endure sexual groping, propositions, and inappropriate comments, but where no tangible economic rewards are attached to involvement in the behaviour. (at p. 1282)

He concluded:

... sexual harassment in the workplace may be broadly defined as unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that detrimentally affects the work environment or leads to adverse job-related consequences for the victims of the harassment. (at p. 1284)

While the Janzen case dealt with sexual harassment in an employment situation, these Rules cover more than lawyers' conduct as employers or employees. They also deal with relations among counsel, among partners, between lawyers and clients and between lawyers and court personnel.

[renumbered 06/95; amended 10/08]

*   *   *

ANNOTATIONS:

Rule 1 - Dishonourable conduct

A lawyer who conducted a sexual relationship with the wife of a client of his firm, lied about the relationship to the client and another lawyer in the firm, and continued to involve himself in legal work for the client was found guilty of conduct unbecoming.
DCD 89-3

A lawyer offered to introduce a client to persons in the Philippines who had $10 million in cash that they wished to transfer out of the country without first satisfying himself that the transaction was legitimate. Because the lawyer became involved before he had made inquiries that satisfied him on an objective basis that the transaction was legitimate, he was found guilty of professional misconduct and conduct unbecoming.
DCD 94-5

While acting as trustee, although not in his capacity as a lawyer, a lawyer breached the terms of a trust agreement by improperly releasing funds held in trust. These actions constituted conduct unbecoming.
DCD 99-15

A lawyer falsely stated to the media that he had not invested in a joint venture to develop a power project when, in fact, a company in which the lawyer was a majority and controlling shareholder had purchased $1 million US of shares in the project through two other corporations. He was found guilty of conduct unbecoming.
DCD 99-16

A lawyer who shot a bear without a license and misled conservation officers and taxidermists into believing that his friend had shot the bear was guilty of conduct unbecoming.
DCD 99-18

A lawyer who filed incorrect proofs of claim, among other things, on behalf of a family member in a bankruptcy was acting in a business capacity, not as a lawyer at the time. Nevertheless, his actions amounted to conduct unbecoming a member.
DCD 00-08

Possession of cocaine for personal use amounts to conduct unbecoming a lawyer.
DCD 01-07

A lawyer was convicted of an offence under the provincial Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act for failing to care for a herd of cattle. Her negligence towards her legal responsibility harmed the standing of the legal profession in the eyes of right-thinking members of the public and constituted conduct unbecoming a member of the Law Society.
DCD 01-14

A lawyers conduct was found to constitute conduct unbecoming when he plead guilty to criminal sexual offences and was found to have sworn a false answer to a question on his application for enrolment to the Law Society.
DCD 02-18

A lawyer who assaulted his girlfriend was guilty of dishonourable conduct and conduct unbecoming a member.
2005 LSBC 29

Committing an indecent act in public was dishonourable conduct that reflected adversely on the integrity of the legal profession, and constituted conduct unbecoming a member of the Law Society.
DD 2005 No 2 July-August

A lawyer who threatened and pointed a firearm at someone was guilty of dishonorable or questionable conduct that casts doubt on the lawyer's professional integrity or competence, or reflects adversely on the integrity of the legal profession or the administration of justice.
2005 LSBC 42

The combination of a lawyer's actions, specifically the consumption of a substantial amount of alcohol, just prior to driving a motor vehicle and then causing an accident by driving without due care and attention and then removing the can of beer from his car to dispose of it and using mouthwash to mask the smell of alcohol on his breath prior to the arrival of the police was tantamount to dishonest conduct and conduct unbecoming a lawyer.
2005 LSBC 28

Rule 2 - Duty to meet financial obligations

A firm's partners do not have an ethical obligation to ensure that the rent is paid on a lease entered into by the firms management company.
EC January 1994, item 7

The rule does not require a lawyer to pay an account where there is a bona fide legal dispute about the obligation to pay.
EC September 1996, item 7

An undertaking given by a solicitor in a trial certificate or notice of trial cannot be an unconditional promise that the solicitor will underwrite the government imposed cost of his client’s right to a courtroom. A solicitor of record who signs such a form, does no more than give a required, if superfluous, promise on behalf of his client. The lawyer does not have a personal responsibility to pay.
Campbell Inc. v. Towers 2006 BCSC 1030

A debt owed to the bank for a line of credit used to finance a lawyer's practice does not constitute a practice debt under the rule.
EC December 1999, item 10

Failing to meet professional financial obligations incurred in the course of practice by not paying overdue accounts is conduct unbecoming a member of the Society.
DCD 99-11

A lawyer's failure to satisfy a judgment against him and to notify the Law Society constitutes professional misconduct.
DCD 99-03

Failure to pay a judgment to a client after a fee review, and failing to immediately notify the Law Society of this unsatisfied judgment constitutes professional misconduct.
DCD 00-18

Failing to pay the accounts of another lawyer retained by his firm, failing to notify the Law Society of unsatisfied judgments filed against him, and failing to respond to the Law Society about complaints made against him constitutes disgraceful and dishonourable conduct, amounting to professional misconduct.
DCD 00-15

A lawyer is guilty of professional misconduct when he fails to pay in a timely fashion a psychiatrist's account for services rendered in relation to a legal aid file.
DCD 01-13

A lawyer who failed to pay the accounts of another lawyer who provided legal services as an independent contractor, particularly when the client had paid those accounts, constitutes failure to fulfill financial obligations incurred in the course of practice. Such conduct amounts to professional misconduct. It was disgraceful, dishonourable, and unbecoming of a member of the Society.
DCD 02-17

A lawyer's failure to remit social services tax collected on his client's accounts constitutes professional misconduct.
DCD 03-14

A lawyer's failure to remit funds collected as GST and to report a garnishing order against him under the Income Tax Act constitutes professional misconduct.
DCD 03-13, indexed as [2003] LSBC 22. See also DCD 03-17, indexed as [2003] LSBC 27; see also 2004 LSBC 05; see also [2004] LSBC 08; [2004] LSBC 16; [2004] LSBC 15; [2004] LSBC 05

 

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Chapter 2 out of 14 chapters in the annotated Professional Conduct Handbook