Since 1949, the Law Society has provided financial protection so that innocent members of the public do not suffer hardship because of the actions of a dishonest lawyer.
If your lawyer has stolen money or other property from you, you may be entitled to make an insurance claim. Trust protection coverage is provided through Part B of the BC Lawyers' Compulsory Professional Liability Insurance Policy and claims for reimbursement are managed by the Lawyers Insurance Fund, which also manages negligence claims reported by lawyers under the policy.
How to make a claim
You must provide written notice to the Lawyers Insurance Fund within six months of becoming aware of the lawyer's theft and, in any event, within 10 years of the theft.
Please contact Hazel Cords at the Lawyers Insurance Fund for an information package explaining more about trust protection coverage and how to make a claim.
You do not need to hire a lawyer to assist with a claim, but there may be situations where you might wish to obtain your own independent legal advice about your claim.
Once the Lawyers Insurance Fund receives notice of a claim, it is assigned to a lawyer who will review the claim to determine whether it meets the criteria for payment under trust protection coverage.
As soon as the Lawyers Insurance Fund has received necessary information from you, investigation into the claim begins. Although the length of time required to conduct the investigation depends on various factors, such as other parallel investigations into the lawyer, we will work to resolve your claim as quickly as possible.
Before a trust protection coverage claim will be considered for payment, the following requirements must be met:
- The claim must be the result of dishonest appropriation – your lawyer stealing money or other property. It doesn't matter if the lawyer uses the property him or herself, or gives it to someone else.
- The property taken must have been entrusted to and received by the lawyer acting in his or her capacity as a lawyer. If the lawyer has acted dishonestly in a matter that has nothing to do with the practice of law, it will not qualify for payment.
- The claim cannot be connected to the wrongful or unlawful conduct, fault or neglect of yourself or your spouse or anyone associated with your organization and you cannot have yourself obtained the lost property unlawfully.
There may be other policy terms that limit your entitlement to reimbursement, although they are unlikely to apply to most claims.
Trust protection coverage will not compensate you in cases where your lawyer has been careless or negligent, or there is a dispute over fees.
Trust protection coverage will reimburse you, on behalf of the lawyer who has stolen your money, for the value of the money taken. If the property taken isn't money (or its equivalent), you will be reimbursed for the property's actual cash value at the time the property was taken.
You may recover up to $300,000 per claim. Different limits apply if your lawyer was practising in another province.
The amount paid will be reduced by any monies otherwise available to you, the lawyer, or the lawyer's law firm, to repay the stolen funds.