Unauthorized practice of law
The Law Society routinely investigates allegations of unauthorized legal practice. The Legal Profession Act restricts the practice of law to qualified lawyers in order to protect consumers from unqualified and unregulated legal services providers.
Section 1 of the Legal Profession Act defines the practice of law while s. 15 states that only a practising lawyer is entitled to practise law. Section 85 makes it an offence to practise law if you are not a lawyer. It is important to note that the practice of law is defined as providing a variety of legal services “for a fee, gain or reward, direct or indirect.” Non-lawyers who provide or offer to provide legal advice but are not seeking a fee are not violating the statute, unless they are suspended or disbarred lawyers.
Other exceptions are notaries public in BC who are entitled to provide a limited range of legal services — primarily real estate conveyancing, and certain types of wills and affidavits. As well, registered immigration consultants are regulated by the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants. Consultants appearing before Workers’ Compensation Board tribunals are not regulated.
Anyone with questions regarding the right of a person who is not a member of the Law Society to provide legal services should contact the Society at 604-669-2533 or 1-800-903-5300.
So far in 2009, the Law Society obtained court orders and consent orders from the Supreme Court of BC, prohibiting the following individuals and businesses from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law or punishing them for contempt of orders that the Law Society had previously obtained to prevent them from engaging in unauthorized practice:
Susan Eshelman of Pacific IP Inc. has been prohibited by the Supreme Court from giving legal advice, appearing as counsel or advocate, preparing documents for use in a proceeding and identifying herself in any way that suggests she is a lawyer.
She was also ordered to pay costs.
Ronald Kostyk has been found in contempt of court for breaching a 1995 injunction prohibiting him from practising law. Kostyk has been ordered to inform potential clients that he is not a lawyer, that he has never attended an accredited law school, has no legal education or training and is not permitted to receive a fee. He has also been ordered to pay $12,000 in restitution.
Patrick Julien of Caelis International Corporation has been prohibited from giving legal advice and suggesting in any way that he’s a lawyer. Julien is also prohibited from preparing incorporation documents. He was ordered to pay costs.
Christopher Lloyd of Victoria has been ordered by the Supreme Court to stop giving legal advice. Lloyd, doing business variously as Jurist Inc., The Justice Centre and The Justice Society, is prohibited from acting as counsel or preparing documents. He has also been ordered to pay costs.
Anthony Lau (aka Tony Lau, aka Chaowin Lau) of Sage Management Ltd. of Richmond was offering to incorporate companies and prepare appeals to the Federal Court. He has been ordered not to give legal advice or to prepare documents for use in a proceeding. Lau was ordered to pay costs.
Vincent Macalipay (aka Vicente Macalipay) has been ordered to stop giving legal advice and preparing legal documents. Macalipay was offering to prepare divorce documents. He was ordered to pay costs.
As of December 2009, the Law Society obtained undertakings from 41 individuals and businesses not to engage in the practice of law. The most common breach of the Legal Profession Act is non-lawyers preparing incorporation documents for a fee. There were also cases of non-lawyers preparing divorce documents and separation agreements, as well as preparing documents for use in proceedings in court or administrative tribunals.