Online member directory soon to include discipline information
In July 2014, Council approved adoption of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s National Discipline Standards. These will be effective on January 1, 2015 for the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society.
These Standards are creating greater consistency in transparency, processes and timeliness with regard to complaints handling across the country. As we’ve seen in recent media reports from other provinces, significant public concerns remain around transparency and access to this type of information.
The Society has been a leader in compliance with these Standards, and all have been implemented in Nova Scotia for some time, with the exception of Standard #19 regarding online access to the discipline histories of our members. We will be adding this feature to the online Member Directory in early January 2015.
For purposes of this Standard, ‘discipline history’ refers to any public decision by the Complaints Investigation Committee (CIC) or a Hearing Panel. This does not include staff Letters of Advice, CIC counsels or cautions.
Council has determined that the histories available in the Directory will cover the period from 1993 forward – this is the date when all public discipline decisions from Nova Scotia were posted on CanLII.
It is important to note that all historic discipline decisions to be added are already publicly available from the Society, in files at the Prothonotary, or on CanLII. Making this information more easily accessible on the Society’s website is an important step in our commitment to transparency and protection of the public interest.
A number of Canadian jurisdictions have had this information available to the public through their member directories for some time. Council has determined that in addition to circulating this general notice to the membership, the Society will be writing to each individual member whose online membership record will be amended, in order to confirm the information that will be included on the website.