Discipline and credentials hearings
Benchers update rules on hearing panel composition
The Benchers have amended Law Society Rule 5-2(2) to state that Law Society hearing panels must be comprised of three Benchers or other lawyers unless there are special circumstances that justify a one-Bencher panel, in the discretion of the President. The composition of a one-Bencher panel still requires the consent of the lawyer or student who is subject to the hearing.
Requiring special circumstances as a condition of the President appointing a one-Bencher panel was intended to remove any opportunity that counsel might have to influence the make-up of hearing panels.
One-Bencher hearing panels will only be appointed when:
- no facts are in dispute,
- the hearing is to consider a conditional admission under Rule 4-22,
- it is not otherwise possible, in the President’s opinion, to convene a panel in a reasonable period of time, or
- one or more of the original panel members cannot complete a hearing that has begun.
Another rule change permits all Life Benchers, including former Lay Benchers who have become Life Benchers, to serve on a panel (Rule 5-2(4)).