Chapter 13, Rule 5 of the Professional Conduct Handbook

When character or fitness is in question — restrictions on employment

The Benchers have amended Chapter 13, Rule 5 of the Professional Conduct Handbook to clarify that a BC lawyer has a duty not to employ or retain in any capacity having to do with the practice of law "a person whose character and fitness to be a member of the Bar is in question," without written approval of the Law Society. Rule 5 continues to prohibit lawyers from employing a suspended or disbarred lawyer or a person who has been refused enrolment as an articled student, call and admission or reinstatement on the grounds of lack of good character or fitness.

The Ethics Committee recommended a further clarification of the rule to cover a person who withdraws an application for enrolment or call and admission. Any credentials hearing that was previously ordered in such instance would not proceed and there would be no "refusal" of the application. It was not intended that an applicant in this situation should fall outside the scope of Chapter 13, Rule 5, and the Benchers have specified that the restrictions in the rule extend to a person with respect to whom a credentials hearing has been ordered.

With the addition of paragraphs (c.1) and (d), Rule 5 now reads (in part):

5. Except with the written approval of the Law Society, a lawyer must not employ or retain in any capacity having to do with the practice of law a person whose character and fitness to be a member of the Bar is in question, including, but not limited to, a person who, in any jurisdiction,

(c.1) failed to complete a Bar admission program for reasons relating to lack of good character and repute or fitness to be a member of the Bar,

(d) has been the subject of a hearing ordered, whether commenced or not, with respect to an application for enrolment as an articled student, call and admission or reinstatement, unless the person was subsequently enrolled, called and admitted or reinstated in the same jurisdiction.