Amendments to Legal Profession Act given first reading in Legislature

April 30, 2012

The provincial government has tabled for first reading Bill 40, the Legal Profession Amendment Act, 2012 which is intended to provide much needed updates to the Law Society's regulatory framework.

The Act was passed in 1998 and, since that time, regulatory best practices have changed. If passed, the bill will have the effect of modernizing the Act and providing the Law Society with the appropriate powers to regulate the legal profession in the public interest.

The amendments to the Act feature many improvements designed to protect the public, such as the following:

  • An updated mandate that strengthens the commitment of the Law Society to the protection of the public interest in the administration of justice while affirming the Society's support and assistance of lawyers in fulfilling their responsibilities in the practice of law.
  • Decisions of Law Society hearing panels will be subject to review by a board that will include people who are not lawyers.
  • Where it is in the public interest, the Law Society will have the authority to suspend a lawyer under investigation or impose conditions on the lawyer's practice.
  • Maximum fines for lawyers will be increased to $50,000 to be more in line with those of other professional bodies and to act as a greater deterrent.
  • The Law Society will have the ability to require non-lawyers, as well as lawyers, to answer questions and produce records in the course of an investigation into a lawyer's conduct.
  • The Law Society will be able to suspend or disbar lawyers convicted of serious crimes, including those committed outside Canada, without a full hearing.
  • The Benchers will set the annual fees paid by lawyers to fund the Law Society.

The decision to seek these changes was approved by the Benchers in 2010 after careful consideration, including a review of the practices of legal and other professional regulatory bodies.

For more information, please see Ministry of Justice news release.

If you have any questions, please contact Jeff Hoskins, QC, Legislative and Tribunal Counsel.