Highlights of amendments to the BC Code
References to the Supreme Court Civil Rules have been updated (Appendix A, Rule 1, commentaries (11],  and ).
With the supervising lawyer’s permission, designated paralegals may represent clients at family law mediations (rule 6.1-3.3 and commentary) and guidance is provided to those supervising lawyers, including on recognizing family violence and giving legal advice (Appendix B commentary and Appendix E, Screening for family violence and Designated paralegals giving legal advice).
A lawyer must promptly notify the client, other counsel and the court or tribunal of the lawyer’s withdrawal from a file (rule 3.7-9); Rule references are updated to reflect the new Law Society Rules 2015, which came into effect on July 1, 2015 (rule 3.4-17, commentary , 3.6-8, commentary  and 6.1-3.3, commentary ).
Following a consultation with the profession, the Benchers have amended the rule on statements of accounts, in particular the duty of candour owed to clients regarding fees and other charges (rule 3.6-3, commentary ).
Confidentiality restrictions are amended to allow parenting coordinators some discretion to disclose information (Appendix B, paragraph 4).
In December 2014, the Benchers amended the meaning of “institutional lender;” that amendment is now rescinded, while a consultation with the profession takes place (Appendix C, paragraph 4, commentary  and ).
[See also: Ethics Committee consults lawyers regarding changes to “institutional lender” in BC Code.]
What is meant by “institutional lender” is set out in more specific terms (Appendix C, paragraph 4, commentary ); the criteria for what is not a “simple conveyance” are expanded (Appendix C, paragraph 4, commentary ); a paragraph reference is corrected (Appendix C, paragraph 2).
Rule 4.2-6 (Former firm of current judge or master) is rescinded, as already covered in another rule and for consistency with the model code.
As a result of recommendations from the Alternative Dispute Resolution Task Force, a preamble was added to the BC Code to remind lawyers that the Code governs their conduct, not only in the practice of law, but in other activities as well. Amendments were also adopted that recognize the difficulty of distinguishing between legal advice and legal information and permitting a lawyer, in certain circumstances, to act for both spouses in a divorce action (section 5.7, commentary , [1.1] and ).
The standard for determining conflicts with clients is modified to be consistent with the definition of "conflict of interest" (rule 3.4-26.1).
The Benchers have adopted new provisions in the Federation Model Code of Conduct dealing with limited scope retainers (definition of "limited scope retainer" and rules 3.1-2 commentary [7.1], 3.2-1.1, 7.2-6 and 7.2-6.1).
The rule prohibiting dishonesty, crime or fraud applies, whether or not that conduct takes place in the context of a lawyer-client relationship (rule 3.2-7); an inconsistency with the Legal Profession Act provisions covering contingent fee agreements is corrected (rule 3.6-2, commentary ); the rule on disbursements and "other charges" is rescinded for further study and consultation (rule 3.6-3, commentary ); the list of circumstances that requires a lawyer to obtain approval from the Law Society before professionally associating with a person is expanded (rule 6.1-4); before proceeding by default in a matter, a lawyer must give notice to another lawyer who has been consulted (rule 7.2-1, commentary ).
Effective March 18, 2013, new requirements are established for lawyers acting as family law arbitrators, mediators and/or parenting coordinators, as recommended by the Family Law Task Force and in anticipation of the new Family Law Act (Appendix B).
January 1, 2013
The new Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia (the BC Code) takes effect.