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)).