A complaint has been filed against you – what now?
- The Society’s Director of Professional Responsibility reviews the complaint and it is assigned to an Officer in our Department of Professional Responsibility.
- The Society’s Officer will either dismiss, investigate, mediate, or attempt to resolve the complaint. We may dismiss a complaint without investigation if it:
– Deals with concerns which are outside our jurisdiction (e.g. unhappy with court decision)
– Is filed for an improper or vexatious purpose (e.g. there is evidence that the complainant is trying to cause harm to another party)
– Refers to facts which, if proven, would not constitute professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming a lawyer (e.g. my lawyer withdrew because of a conflict).
- If we investigate a complaint, often the first step is to send the complaint to you, the member, and invite your response. We appreciate responses that are organized and help to address each allegation made by the complainant, with reference to file materials or documented instructions/advice where appropriate.
When we mediate a complaint, we will call you to let you know a complaint has been filed and to discuss the next steps. We only attempt to mediate complaints where it is appropriate and seems possible to do so.
If we dismiss a complaint with or without investigation, you will receive a copy of the letter we sent to the complainant outlining the reasons why, as well as a copy of the original complaint.
Fitness to Practice Program
The Fitness to Practise Program is the first of its kind for a Canadian law society. It allows for an alternate process, in appropriate cases, to be offered to a lawyer with a capacity-related conduct issue who has come into contact with the Society either as a result of self-reporting, reporting by someone else or a complaint.
The program is completely voluntary and a lawyer cannot be compelled to enter into the Fitness to Practise Program.
Crucial to this program is the Fitness to Practise Committee (FTPC), made up of senior members of the Bar and medical practitioners, all of whom bring a wealth of expertise in mental health and addiction issues, Lawyers’ Assistance programs and professional regulation. This Committee reviews medical reports and works with the affected lawyer to design an agreement that will both protect the public and assist in addressing the incapacity.
If a lawyer is referred to the Fitness to Practise Program pursuant to Part 9 of the Regulations of the Legal Profession Act, the Society will ask the lawyer to read a consent form, which also provides details about the program, the Committee and related processes.
Complaints and Professional Responsibility Statistics
|Intake Calls Received||463||344||562|
|Written Complaints Received||129||130||162|
|Staff Resolution & Dismissal of Complaints||88||131||135|
|Complaints Investigation Committee Disposition||17||11||12|
|Ethics Inquiries from NSBS Members||73||83||73|
|Matters referred to hearing:|
– Carried over
– New matters
|New referrals to fitness to practice program||1||2||1|
Did you receive a letter or a complaint and are not sure what to do about it? Please contact our acting Director of Professional Responsibility, Elaine Cumming, at [email protected].