Introduction to the Code of Professional Conduct for BC

BC Code on YouTube
Table of Concordance between the BC Code and the Professional Conduct Handbook

The Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia (the “BC Code”) is effective January 1, 2013. It replaces the Professional Conduct Handbook as the governing document concerning professional responsibility for British Columbia lawyers.

The BC Code is based on and similar to the Federation of Law Societies Model Code of Professional Conduct, but differs from the Model Code in some areas to take account of the practice perspective of British Columbia lawyers. 

The Professional Conduct Handbook

The Annotated Professional Conduct Handbook (in effect from May 1, 1993 to December 31, 2012) is preserved on this website for historical purposes.

Annotations to the BC Code

The annotations to the online version of the BC Code are intended to inform lawyers and the public about select decisions and opinions relevant to various rules in the Code. Although there has been minor editing of some opinions, no attempt has been made to reconcile any differences in the decisions and opinions.

Where the rules in the BC Code are similar to those of its predecessor, the Professional Conduct Handbook, the annotations in the Handbook are preserved under the relevant rule of the BC Code. Annotations that relate to the Handbook are identified with the initials [PCH]. Lawyers should consider the possible differences between the BC Code and the Handbook when determining the extent to which an annotation is still relevant. 

Whenever possible, references are linked to the original material and are drawn from:

  • Law Society Ethics Committee minutes (1990 to 2015);
  • Law Society discipline hearings and related publications (1995 to 2015);
  • Relevant Canadian case law (early 1990s to 2015). Cases are linked to full text decisions, wherever possible. Neutral citations are provided, when available. If a neutral citation was not available, some other reference information was provided (e.g., unreported citation; QL citation, etc.).

The abbreviations in the annotations mean:

  • [PCH] refers to an annotation to the Professional Conduct Handbook, which was in effect from May 1, 1993 to December 31, 2012;
  • EC refers to Ethics Committee minutes. For example, the reference "EC March 2005, item 6" refers to item 6 of the Ethics Committee minutes in March 2005;
  • DD refers to Discipline Digest. For example, the reference "DD 04-05" refers to discipline digest number five in 2004;
  • DCD refers to Discipline Case Digest. For example, the reference "DCD 01-27" refers to discipline case number 27 in 2001 (note that in 2007 Discipline Case Digests were phased out and became Discipline Digests);
  • LSBC refers to Law Society hearing decisions. For example, the reference "2003 LSBC 20" refers to hearing decision number 20 in 2003. 
Rule numbers

The BC Code has a different numbering system than the documents made available for consultation in 2010 and 2011. Also, numbering in the Code is keyed to the Federation’s Model Code. Because a few provisions of the Model Code were not approved by the Benchers for inclusion in the BC Code, numbering is not consecutive in some places.

BC Code on YouTube

Lawyers who missed the two-part course on the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia offered by the Law Society and the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC can catch it online. Parts one and two, originally broadcast via CLE-TV on January 29 and February 6, 2013, have been posted to the Law Society's YouTube channel and are eligible for continuing professional development credits. See Approved Education Activities for details.

Your feedback is welcome

Comments on the annotated BC Code, including identification of errors or suggestions for change, are welcome and should be sent to Lance Cooke, Staff Lawyer-Ethics.