Lawyers must report criminal charges to the Law Society

August 19, 2011

A lawyer who is charged with a criminal offence under either a federal or provincial statute must notify the Law Society of the charge (Rule 3-90). This requirement also applies to articled students, practitioners of foreign law and applicants for admission.

The notification must be made in writing and contain all of the following information as soon as practicable after each of the following events:

  • laying of the charge;
  • disposition of the charge;
  • sentencing in respect of the charge;
  • commencement of an appeal of the verdict or sentence; and
  • disposition of the appeal.

The lawyer must also provide a copy of any statement of the particulars of the charge, immediately upon receipt of it.

The only exception to this reporting obligation is if a lawyer is issued or served with a ticket as defined in the Contraventions Act (Canada) or the Offence Act (BC).

It is important that the Law Society is advised of criminal charges because lawyers hold positions of trust, confidence and responsibility. A lawyer in good standing is an officer of all courts in British Columbia, under section 14(2) of the Legal Profession Act. This status imposes a duty on lawyers to uphold the laws and to maintain the authority and dignity of the courts. If a lawyer is facing a criminal charge, in some circumstances, the Law Society may need to take steps to protect the public interest.