Amendments to the Rules
Notification of criminal charges
Rule 3-90’s requirements for notification in writing to the Law Society regarding criminal charges have been clarified, compelling the provision of all relevant information as soon as possible after each of the following events: laying of the charge; disposition of the charge (including sentencing); commencement of an appeal of either verdict of sentence; and disposition of an appeal.
The notification requirements now cover practitioners of foreign law.
Time to pay fines
Rule 5-10 has been amended to apply its extension of time provisions to the payment of fines and to require the Law Society to withhold the non-practising or retired membership certificate of any non-practising or retired member who remains in default after December 31 regarding any payment.
Rule 5-10 now treats fines and costs equally with respect to extension of time.
Approval of information-sharing protocol
The Law Society and the Provincial Court have adopted a protocol to share complaints information relating to lawyers who are also part-time judicial officers.
The Benchers have also amended Rule 3-3 to allow disclosure to the Provincial Court of complaints information about lawyers who serve as part-time Judicial Justices of the Peace or Judicial Arbitrators. Rule 3-3 prohibits disclosure of complaints information, with limited exceptions.
The amended rule will allow both the court and the Law Society to better fulfil their obligations to ensure the integrity and competence of lawyers who are also judicial officers.
Lawyers appointed as part-time Judicial Justices of the Peace or Judicial Arbitrators will be required to consent to disclosure.
Credentials hearing panel decisions and reviews
The Benchers have amended Rule 2-68 to require credentials hearing panels to provide written reasons in all cases. They have also authorized a new Rule 5-20 requiring written reasons on Bencher reviews.
The Legal Profession Act requires a credentials panel to give written reasons for rejection of an application for enrolment, call and admission, or reinstatement. However, the Act is silent on whether reasons are required of a panel if it approves the application.
The amendment and new rule are consistent with recent case law requiring tribunals to provide written reasons in certain circumstances. The new provisions also accord with Rules 5-16 and 5-17, which provide that the “record” for a review of a panel’s decision includes the written reasons for any decision.