|For immediate release||May 10, 2012|
Legal Profession Act amendments passed in the BC Legislature
Vancouver – Bill 40, the Legal Profession Amendment Act, 2012 received third reading on May 9, 2012.
The Act provides much-need updates to the Legal Profession Act, which has been in effect since 1998. With the amendments provided for in this Act, the Law Society now has better authority to regulate the legal profession in the public interest.
“The passage of this bill is the result of a significant effort on the part of the Ministry of Justice,” said Bruce LeRose, QC, president of the Law Society. “We are very grateful to Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond, and her staff for their appreciation of the importance of modernizing our legislation so that we can more effectively protect the public.”
The Law Society also wishes to acknowledge the support of members of the Legislature, including Bill Bennett – Kootenay East and opposition critic for the Attorney General, Leonard Krog – Nanaimo who both spoke in favour of these important changes.
The amendments to the Act feature many improvements designed to protect the public, such as the following:
- An updated mandate that highlights the commitment of the Law Society to the protection of the public interest in the administration of justice.
- Decisions of Law Society hearing panels will be subject to review by a board which 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 lawyer misconduct will be increased 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 witnesses 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 a wider range of serious crimes, which will also be extended to include those committed outside Canada.
- The elected and appointed board of governors, not all lawyers, will set the annual fees paid by lawyers to fund the Law Society.
The Law Society of British Columbia regulates the more than 10,000 lawyers in the province, setting and enforcing standards of professional conduct that ensure the public is well-served by a competent, honourable legal profession.
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