|For immediate release||October 18, 2001|
Statement by the Law Society of B.C. on the Supreme Court of Canada decision in LSBC v. Mangat
VANCOUVER – The Supreme Court of Canada has denied the appeal of the Law Society of B.C. from the B.C. Court of Appeal decision concerning the regulation of non-lawyer immigration consultants.
Law Society Second Vice-President Howard Berge said that in light of the court's ruling the Law Society urges the federal and provincial governments to develop a regulatory scheme for immigration consultants.
"Immigrants and refugees are an extremely vulnerable portion of Canadian society and they need to be represented by people who are licensed, regulated and ethical," Mr. Berge said.
Mr. Berge noted that in 1995 a Parliamentary committee urged the federal government to regulate immigration consultants. The committee, in its report, said: "In contrast to lawyers, immigration consultants have no tests for competency for practice; they have no code of conduct; they have no negligence insurance; there is no compensation fund for defrauded victims; there are no trust accounts; there are no formal complaint mechanisms; and there are no disciplinary procedures to deal with unethical or incompetent individuals. On every score, members of the public are unprotected." The Law Society made submissions to the committee that made these recommendations.
Mr. Berge also noted the Immigration and Refugee Board is now in the process of preparing a code of conduct for lawyers and non-lawyers representing people before any of its four divisions (Refugee Protection Division, the Immigration Appeal Division, the Refugee Appeal Division and the Immigration Division). However, he cautioned that the proposed code of conduct does not deal with issues such as insurance or a special compensation fund. Mr. Berge said the Law Society welcomes the opportunity to work with the Board in developing the new code of conduct.
"We don't think the federal government ever intended to create an environment so that immigration consultants are not regulated at all."
With over 10,000 members, the Law Society of British Columbia is the governing body for the B.C. legal profession. Its chief executive officer is the Executive Director and its senior elected official is the President. The Benchers are members of the Board of Directors. The Law Society's principal responsibility is to uphold and protect the public interest in the administration of justice and to set standards for the education, professional responsibility and competence of practising lawyers in the province.
Law Society of B.C. media contact:
Brad Daisley, Public Affairs Manager
Office: 604-443-5724 or 1-800-903-5300 toll-free in B.C.