The Society’s right to self-govern requires transparency and accountability, and an effective means to regulate lawyers and the practice of law in the public interest. This requires vigilance not only on the part of the Society, but also by lawyers themselves. The Legal Profession Act and regulations, as well as the Code of Professional Conduct, create obligations for lawyers to self-report certain matters, or to report serious concerns of professional misconduct by another lawyer. The Society assesses each report and determines through the Executive Director and, if necessary, the Complaints Investigation Committee what steps, if any, should be taken to ensure public protection where appropriate.
Duty to report offences, bankruptcies or judgments
Regulation 4.2.8 of the Legal Profession Act requires that a member report to the Society judgments, proposals to creditors, assignments in bankruptcy and situations where an order for costs is made against a member personally. Refer to the Policy on reporting bankruptcies and judgments and the Policy respecting Co-signers. Regulation 4.2.8 also requires, among other things, that a member report any matter where the member has been charged with, pled guilty to or been found guilty of an offence under such legislation as the Criminal Code (Canada), or has been charged with and/or found guilty of any disciplinary offence by another jurisdiction.
Duty to report misconduct
Rule 7.1-3 of the Code of Professional Conduct requires that a member report to the Society serious violations of the rules of ethics, including misappropriation of trust funds, abandonment of a law practice, and conduct that raises a substantial question as to another lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or competence as a lawyer. It is often the case that such conduct may lead to more serious violations and harm to the public in the future. Thus it is critical to public protection, the effective administration of justice and the reputation of the legal profession that concerns about any such serious misconduct are brought to the Society’s attention immediately for investigation. Early intervention permits the Society to investigate concerns, provide support to a lawyer where appropriate, or take steps to protect the public as soon as possible.