Unauthorized practice action

Notaries cannot prepare corporate records for fee: Law Society of B.C. v. Siegel

A notary public may not charge fees to prepare corporate documents and resolutions to maintain a corporate registered and records office, or to transfer corporate records to the notary's office. A declaration of the B.C. Supreme Court on June 5 has clarified that these activities constitute the unauthorized practice of law: Law Society of B.C. v. Julie M. Siegel and the Society of Notaries Public (intervenor) 2000 BCSC 875.

Mr. Justice Sigurdson determined that corporate records services constitute the practice of law as defined in the Legal Profession Act, which includes "drawing, revising or settling a petition, memorandum or articles under the Company Act or an application, statement, affidavit, minute, resolution, bylaw or other document relating to the incorporation, registration, organization, reorganization, dissolution or winding up of a corporate body."

Sections 17 and 18 of the Notaries Act, respecting the authority of notaries, does not authorize the preparation of corporate documents as part of the lawful practice of a notary. The authority of notaries to "draw instruments relating to property" as set out in section 18 of that Act does not include documents pertaining to the corporate legal affairs of a company.

The incorporation of companies was not at issue in this application. The Court of Appeal determined many years ago that incorporation of companies is not the lawful practice of a notary: Reference re: Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia (1969) 69 WWR 475 BCCA.

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On application of the Law Society, the B.C. Supreme Court has ordered that Kendrich Ng and General Services Network, of Vancouver, be prohibited from drawing, revising or settling a document for use in a judicial or extra-judicial proceeding, drawing, revising or settling a document relating in any way to proceedings under a statute, giving legal advice, or offering or holding out as entitled or qualified to offer these services: The Law Society of British Columbia v. Ng et al (April 27, 2000) BCSC Vancouver Registry L000457.

Unauthorized practitioner found in contempt

On April 10 non-lawyer Richard Mintenko of Prince George was found in contempt of court for disobeying a 1992 B.C. Supreme Court order not to engage in the unauthorized practice of law by incorporating companies for a fee. The court ordered that Mr. Mintenko pay a $4,000 fine and $10,000 in costs: The Law Society of British Columbia v. Mintenko et al BCSC Vancouver Registry A922016.