Unauthorized legal practice

As part of its statutory mandate to uphold and protect the public interest in the administration of justice, the Law Society routinely investigates allegations of unauthorized legal practice. A legal decision, whether it involves the purchase of a house, the start of a business or the drafting of a will, is often one of the most important decisions a person makes in life. It is therefore fundamentally important that he or she receives advice from someone properly qualified.

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 carrying out any of the activities listed in s. 1 “for a fee, gain or reward, direct or indirect.” A non-lawyer who provides or offers to provide legal advice but is not seeking a fee is not violating the statute.

Other exceptions are notaries public in BC, who are entitled to provide a limited range of legal services — primarily real estate conveyancing, certain types of wills and affidavits. As well, immigration consultants are regulated by federal legislation, and advocates 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 of BC to provide legal services should contact the society at 604-669-2533 or 1-800-903-5300.

The Law Society has obtained undertakings or court orders prohibiting the following individuals and businesses from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law.

Editor's note: Information on unauthorized practice undertakings is only published online for two years. As a result, some of this article is no longer available.

Mohammed B. Wanli, of Vancouver, BC, was found in contempt of court by Justice Stephen Kelleher of the BC Supreme Court and ordered to pay a fine of $7,500 for wilfully disobeying a court order dated November 15, 2000, which prohibited him from appearing as counsel or advocate, drawing documents for legal proceedings or giving legal advice for a fee.