Amendments to the Legal Profession Act

Amendments to the Legal Profession Act were passed at the recently completed spring session of the Legislative Assembly, making the Law Society’s regulatory programs more effective. The amendments are the result of ongoing collaboration between the provincial government and the Law Society to support public confidence in the administration of justice.

The amendments are:

Practice standards

The Benchers may make rules to permit the Practice Standards Committee to order conditions and limitations on lawyers’ practices (section 27(2)). Rules made under section 27(2)(d.1) must not permit the imposition of conditions or limitations on a lawyer’s practice before that lawyer has been notified of the reasons for the proposed order and has been given reasonable opportunity to respond (section 27(4)).

Hearing powers

Panels and the Benchers are given powers to conduct hearings by reference to the Administrative Tribunals Act, rather than the Inquiry Act, which has now been repealed (sections 44 and 45).

Society requests for evidence ex juris

New section 45.1 permits the Law Society to apply to the Supreme Court of BC for a letter of request to judicial authorities outside BC to compel testimony from witnesses or production of documents.

Quorum for Bencher reviews

Section 47 now provides that if a Bencher is unable to complete his or her duties regarding a Bencher review in progress, such that section 6(2)’s quorum requirement is not met, the review may continue to a valid conclusion, provided that at least five Benchers remain to hear the review.

Appointment of Law Society as custodian

Section 50 has been amended to provide for the appointment of the Law Society as a custodian of a lawyer’s practice. The Society must designate an employee who is a practising lawyer or retain a practising lawyer to act as custodian on the Society’s behalf (section 50.1)