Provincial Court can check if in doubt of counsel’s status

The Law Society and the Provincial Court have agreed on a protocol whereby judges can confirm that a person appearing as counsel is a practising member of the Law Society of BC or a member of another law society who is permitted to practise temporarily in BC. The protocol places the Provincial Court in a better position to verify the identity of those appearing as counsel, when that appears necessary, and to bring unauthorized practice to the attention of the Law Society.

The protocol, as adopted by the Benchers and the Court in October, reads:

Unauthorized Practice

When a Judge or JJP (Judicial Justice of the Peace) becomes aware of a person who is not a lawyer holding him or herself out to be a member of the Law Society of British Columbia or engaging in the unauthorized practice of law contrary to the Legal Profession Act, this may be the subject of an immediate complaint, either directly to the Law Society Unauthorized Practice Committee or through the Administrative or Chief Judge if preferred. These complaints allow the Law Society to take action to protect the public from untrained, unregulated and uninsured legal service providers.

Under s. 15(1)(e) of the Legal Profession Act and Rules 2-10.1 to 2-17.1 of the Law Society Rules and the National Mobility Protocol, members of the law society of another Canadian jurisdiction may be entitled to provide legal services in British Columbia on a limited basis if they are practising members in good standing of that other law society. There is no requirement for such lawyers to confirm their attendance in British Columbia with the Law Society of British Columbia. However, the Law Society of British Columbia can confirm whether the lawyer is entitled to practise law as a visiting lawyer in British Columbia pursuant to the Rules.

Confirmation of whether a person is a practising member of the Law Society of British Columbia may be obtained by checking the Lawyer Look-Up on the Law Society’s website at www.lawsociety.bc.ca or by telephone at 604 669-2533. Confirmation of whether a person is a lawyer in another jurisdiction in Canada and entitled to practise law in British Columbia on a limited basis may be obtained by contacting the Unauthorized Practice Department of the Law Society of British Columbia by telephone at 604 669-2533 or by sending an email to: uap@lsbc.org.

This text is an addendum to a 2004 protocol with the Provincial Court. That protocol guides judges and judicial justices of the peace who may be considering a complaint about a lawyer and any BC lawyer who is contemplating making a complaint about a judge. The protocol is not intended to discourage complaints or to replace existing complaints processes — rather it recognizes that a judge, a judicial justice of the peace or a lawyer may benefit from advice or assistance in making a complaint, or in deciding whether it is appropriate to make a complaint.

The updated Provincial Court protocol is available in “Articles/Papers/Precedents” in the Practice Support section of the Law Society website at www.lawsociety.bc.ca.