Legal assistants can now negotiate settlement of some claims in tort

At the recommendation of the Ethics Committee, the Benchers have revised Chapter 12, Rule 8 of the Professional Conduct Handbook to allow lawyers to delegate to their legal assistants the negotiation of claims in tort when the amount involved does not justify the cost of lawyer's time and provided the lawyer reviews any proposed terms before the legal assistant offers or accepts a settlement.

Chapter 12 "Supervison of Employees" previously allowed lawyers to delegate only the negotiation of liquidated claims in this manner.

The Ethics Committee noted for the Benchers the advantage of widening the scope of delegation. "Allowing lawyers to determine when it is appropriate for a legal assistant to negotiate a claim (whether founded in tort or not) permits lawyers to act in matters where it would otherwise not be economical to do so," the Committee reported. "… With this amendment, Chapter 12 will still require that lawyers supervise the work of legal assistants and not delegate to the legal assistant matters of professional legal judgement."

The text of Chapter 12 has been revised overall for clarity and readability, but without other substantive changes. The chapter, as revised, is included in the June Member's Manual amendment package and is posted on the Law Society website.