Annotations to Chapter 2 – Standards of the Legal Profession

Annotations to rule 2.1-2  To courts and tribunals

Lawyers robe should not bear the words duty counsel or any other markings.  [PCH]
EC June 2003, item 5

In the absence of official court approval or a Law Society rule that stipulates how a lawyer should dress for court, it is inappropriate for a lawyer to depart from customary dress when required to be gowned.  [PCH]
EC May 1997, item 9

Where a plaintiff in a personal injury litigation dies intestate shortly after judgment is pronounced, where the order reflecting the judgment has not yet been entered and there are outstanding matters to be resolved, and where no administrator has been appointed, plaintiffs counsel is under an ethical obligation to notify forthwith both the court and opposing counsel of the death of his client.  [PCH]
EC April 1994, item 5

Where the issue of liability has been settled and where the issue of quantum is to be argued, and where the plaintiff in the matter dies, a lawyer acting for the plaintiff has a duty to inform both the clerk of the court and opposing counsel of the plaintiffs death.  [PCH]
EC March 1993, item 7

A lawyer was found guilty of professional misconduct by improperly withdrawing from a criminal trial and abandoning his client in mid-trial, and by being discourteous and disrespectful to the court.  [PCH]
DD 2008 No. 1 March
2007 LSBC 55

A lawyers intemperate and disrespectful behaviour in court can amount to professional misconduct and conduct unbecoming a member.  [PCH]
DD 04/02

A lawyer who is negligent and reckless and displays a casual disregard for the truth in making misrepresentations to the court and to the Law Society, is guilty of professional misconduct.  [PCH]
DCD 01-16

Letters to the Law Society, with copies to the client and another lawyer, which criticize the judiciary and another lawyer are inappropriate. It is not in the best interests of the justice system, clients, or the profession for lawyers to express themselves in a fashion that promotes acrimony or intensifies the stress and difficulty that people are under.  [PCH]
2003 LSBC 30

Lawyers have a right and, arguably, a duty to criticize tribunals in some circumstances but such criticism must be measured against the public’s reasonable expectations of the lawyer’s professionalism. [PCH]
Dore v. Barreau du Quebec, 2012 SCC 12
Law Society of Upper Canada v. Groia, 2012 ONLSHP 94:

Annotations to rule 2.1-3  To the client

It is improper for a lawyer to give anonymous advice for a fee.
EC June 2014, item 6

Subject to the caveat that a lawyer must not represent a client who is acting out of malice, a lawyer is entitled to take account of a client’s ability to pay in setting a reduced fee, or in acting without fee, and the lawyer is under no obligation to consider an opposing party’s circumstances in determining the fee.  [PCH] 
EC December 2007, item 6

A lawyer billed his client for fees based on a percentage of funds held in trust, even though his retainer agreement required that he bill on an hourly rate. He did so because he realized his neglect in accurately recording his time meant he would otherwise not be remunerated for that time. The bill was far in excess of the value of the services provided when calculated on an hourly basis. His conduct constituted professional misconduct.  [PCH]
DCD 01-27

A lawyer was found guilty of professional misconduct for abandoning a criminal client in mid-trial (to attend to a new, unrepresented client in another courtroom) and in treating the judge with disrespect.  [PCH]
2005 LSBC 10

A lawyer charged and billed to clients approximately $75 in personal disbursements, which he believed represented a fair set-off for disbursements that he paid personally on their behalf while working at home. Although it was done for administrative convenience, it constituted professional misconduct.  [PCH]
2004 LSBC 38

Annotations to rule 2.1-4  To other lawyers

The opinion describes situations that the Ethics Committee believes do or do not fall within the rule.  [PCH]
EC May 2009, item 6  

When a caveat has been filed in one Supreme Court registry but not in others through inadvertence, it is sharp practice for a lawyer to apply for letters of administration without notifying the lawyer who filed the caveat of the proposed application.  [PCH]
EC March 1996, item 7

A lawyer was found guilty of professional misconduct for using profanity in circumstances where he was provoked. The majority was of the view such conduct would never be excusable. The minority, while agreeing that the use of profanity in these circumstances was inexcusable, left open the question whether it might excusable in different circumstances.
2014 LSBC 08

A lawyer who made arrogant, unnecessary and excessively abusive remarks to another lawyer that go beyond mere rudeness or discourtesy was found to be guilty of professional misconduct.
2013 LSBC 25

A lawyer was found guilty of professional misconduct for posting comments on the internet and sending a fax to another lawyer containing discourteous and personal remarks about that lawyer.  [PCH]  
DD 2012 No. 1 
2011 LSBC 29

A lawyer negotiated a personal injury claim for clients and received settlement funds in excess of what the lawyer believed was agreed and to which the clients were entitled.  The lawyer’s failure to make the obviously necessary inquiry of the opposing party was questionable conduct casting doubt on the lawyer’s competence and also reflecting adversely on the integrity of the legal profession and amounted to professional misconduct.  [PCH]  
DD 2012 : No. 1
2011 LSBC 26

A lawyer who made unfounded but serious allegations about the conduct of another lawyer in representing an accused person and incompetently performed his duties as counsel in the prosecution of four appeals in the Court of Appeal was found guilty of professional misconduct.  [PCH]
DD 2008 No. 2 May
2008 LSBC 13
(see also BC Court of Appeal decision in Goldberg v. Law Society of British Columbia, 2009 BCCA 147) 

It is professional misconduct to make statements, at a social gathering, about another lawyers alleged professional negligence, and to make allegations that the lawyer will be disbarred.  [PCH]
DCD 03-10

A lawyer who was representing the vendor in a real estate transaction gave his undertaking to the purchasers solicitor that he would pay all property tax arrears, penalties, and outstanding utility charges from the sale proceeds. He advised the purchasers lawyer that he had completed his undertakings, but the vendor himself had paid the charges with a cheque that was returned for insufficient funds. It was professional misconduct to rely on his client to pay the charges.  [PCH]
DCD 02-09

A lawyer who had an inappropriate verbal exchange with another lawyer during a trial adjournment and pressed his chest against hers was guilty of professional misconduct, even though his actions were unplanned and were not intended to intimidate. Whenever physical contact occurs between lawyers in a confrontational situation, it will be treated as aggravated and unjustified conduct.  [PCH]
DCD 01-09 and DCD 01-15

Failure to immediately send material to the other party as required by a court order does not constitute professional misconduct if it is due to inadvertence, not impropriety. Failing to provide information to the other party because of limitations of the retainer does not amount to professional misconduct.  [PCH]
DCD 00-16

A lawyer who assisted his client to carry out certain corporate procedures using the proxy of an unrepresented shareholder, without the knowledge of or notice to the shareholder, is sharp practice amounting to professional misconduct.  [PCH]
DCD 00-10

Failure to advise opposing counsel that you are not the lawyer for one of the parties, knowing they believe that to be the case, constitutes professional misconduct.  [PCH]
DCD 99-04

A lawyer representing plaintiffs learned from the trial coordinator that the trial had been removed from the trial list and agreed to inform opposing counsel of the adjournment. However, he delayed informing opposing counsel of the adjournment for fear of jeopardizing a settlement opportunity. The lawyers failure to inform opposing counsel constituted professional misconduct.  [PCH]
DCD 97-01

Purporting to serve a writ by fax, knowing it is not proper service, is professional misconduct.  [PCH]
2003 LSBC 44 

Case Law

In upholding a Law Society decision to discipline a lawyer, the BC Court of Appeal concluded that if a lawyer cannot assemble admissible evidence to make a plausible case of incompetency of another lawyer, then he should not pursue the issue. [PCH]
Goldberg v. Law Society of British Columbia, 2009 BCCA 147
(see also Law Society decision 2008 LSBC 13)

Annotations to section 2.2  Integrity

A lawyer negotiated a personal injury claim for clients and received settlement funds in excess of what the lawyer believed was agreed and to which the clients were entitled. The lawyer’s failure to make the obviously necessary inquiry of the opposing party was questionable conduct casting doubt on the lawyer’s competence and also reflecting adversely on the integrity of the legal profession and amounted to professional misconduct. [PCH]
DD 2012 : No. 1
2011 LSBC 26

Committing an indecent act in public was dishonourable conduct that reflected adversely on the integrity of the legal profession, and constituted conduct unbecoming a member of the Law Society.  [PCH]
DD 2005 No 2 July-August

A lawyers conduct was found to constitute conduct unbecoming when he plead guilty to criminal sexual offences and was found to have sworn a false answer to a question on his application for enrolment to the Law Society.  [PCH]
DCD 02-18

A lawyer was convicted of an offence under the provincial Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act for failing to care for a herd of cattle. Her negligence towards her legal responsibility harmed the standing of the legal profession in the eyes of right-thinking members of the public and constituted conduct unbecoming a member of the Law Society.  [PCH]
DCD 01-14

Possession of cocaine for personal use amounts to conduct unbecoming a lawyer.  [PCH]
DCD 01-07

A lawyer who filed incorrect proofs of claim, among other things, on behalf of a family member in a bankruptcy was acting in a business capacity, not as a lawyer at the time. Nevertheless, his actions amounted to conduct unbecoming a member.  [PCH]
DCD 00-08

A lawyer who shot a bear without a license and misled conservation officers and taxidermists into believing that his friend had shot the bear was guilty of conduct unbecoming.  [PCH]
DCD 99-18

A lawyer falsely stated to the media that he had not invested in a joint venture to develop a power project when, in fact, a company in which the lawyer was a majority and controlling shareholder had purchased $1 million US of shares in the project through two other corporations. He was found guilty of conduct unbecoming.  [PCH]
DCD 99-16

While acting as trustee, although not in his capacity as a lawyer, a lawyer breached the terms of a trust agreement by improperly releasing funds held in trust. These actions constituted conduct unbecoming.  [PCH]
DCD 99-15

A lawyer offered to introduce a client to persons in the Philippines who had $10 million in cash that they wished to transfer out of the country without first satisfying himself that the transaction was legitimate. Because the lawyer became involved before he had made inquiries that satisfied him on an objective basis that the transaction was legitimate, he was found guilty of professional misconduct and conduct unbecoming.  [PCH]
DCD 94-5

A lawyer who conducted a sexual relationship with the wife of a client of his firm, lied about the relationship to the client and another lawyer in the firm, and continued to involve himself in legal work for the client was found guilty of conduct unbecoming.  [PCH]
DCD 89-3

A lawyer who threatened and pointed a firearm at someone was guilty of dishonorable or questionable conduct that casts doubt on the lawyer's professional integrity or competence, or reflects adversely on the integrity of the legal profession or the administration of justice.  [PCH]
2005 LSBC 42

A lawyer who assaulted his girlfriend was guilty of dishonourable conduct and conduct unbecoming a member.  [PCH]
2005 LSBC 29

The combination of a lawyer's actions, specifically the consumption of a substantial amount of alcohol, just prior to driving a motor vehicle and then causing an accident by driving without due care and attention and then removing the can of beer from his car to dispose of it and using mouthwash to mask the smell of alcohol on his breath prior to the arrival of the police was tantamount to dishonest conduct and conduct unbecoming a lawyer.  [PCH]
2005 LSBC 28

Annotations to rule 2.2-1 Integrity

A lawyer stated to a social worker whom he did not know that he should “shoot her” because she “takes away too many kids.” The comment was made inside a courthouse (but outside a courtroom) with other persons present. The social worker felt threatened by the comment; the lawyer said it was a poor attempt at a joke. The Review Board upheld the decision of the hearing panel that the remarks constituted a marked departure from the conduct the Law Society expects of lawyers.
2015 LSBC 34 

The issue of a lawyer copying a transcript to provide to another lawyer or party in the same proceeding is a matter of contract between court reporters and lawyers, and is not ordinarily a matter of professional conduct.
EC April 2012 

A lawyer was found guilty of professional misconduct in assisting a client to avoid a court ordered payment of a family support obligation by accepting the client’s instructions to hold the client’s support payment in trust when the lawyer knew or ought to have known he was facilitating a breach of a court order.
2013 LSBC 18

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to agree to pay a sum of money to a complainant in exchange for the complainant to drop a complaint to the Law Society made against him.
2013 LSBC 09

[BC Code] refers to an annotation that was created during the time the BC Code was in effect (from January 1, 2013) and is not based on or does not refer to a provision of the Professional Conduct Handbook

[PCH] refers to an annotation to the former Professional Conduct Handbook, which was in effect from May 1, 1993 to December 31, 2012. Lawyers should consider the possible differences between the Handbook and the BC Code when determining the extent to which an annotation is still relevant.

EC refers to Ethics Committee minutes. For example, the reference "EC March 2005, item 6" refers to item 6 of the Ethics Committee minutes in March 2005.

DD refers to Discipline Digest. For example, the reference "DD 04-05" refers to discipline digest number five in 2004.

DCD refers to Discipline Case Digest. For example, the reference "DCD 01-27" refers to discipline case number 27 in 2001. (Note that in 2007 Discipline Case Digests were phased out and became Discipline Digests.)

LSBC refers to Law Society hearing reports. For example, the reference "2003 LSBC 20" refers to hearing report number 20 in 2003.

For more information on the annotated BC Code, see the Introduction to the Code of Professional Conduct for BC.