Part 4 – Obligations of Lawyers and Law Firms

4.1 Compliance obligations of lawyers

List of obligations

4.1.1 A practicing lawyer must:

  1. pay fees annually in accordance with subregulations 4.2.2 and 4.2.4;
  2. pay other fees in accordance with subregulation 4.2.3;
  3. unless exempted from doing so by subregulation 4.1.8 or subregulation 6.6.2, maintain a minimum of $1,000,000.00 of liability insurance in the form provided by the Association;
  4. file the Annual Lawyer Report prescribed by subregulation 4.3.2;
  5. satisfy the continuing professional development requirements prescribed by Regulation 8.3; and
  6. if applicable, provide notice to the Society as prescribed by Regulation 4.4.

Required payments

4.1.2 A practicing lawyer must, by June 30 of each year:

  1. pay the practising fee prescribed by Schedule A;
  2. unless exempted from doing so by subregulation 4.1.8 or subregulation 6.6.2, pay the amount due to the Association as prescribed by Schedule A;
  3. pay the amount prescribed by Schedule A to be contributed to the Fund; and
  4. if applicable, provide notice to the Society as prescribed by Regulation 4.4.

Pre-authorized Payment Plan

4.1.3  Despite subregulation 4.1.2, a practising lawyer or law firm may pay the annual fees by means of pre-authorized payment plan in a form prescribed by the Executive Director.

Other Fees

4.1.4  A practising lawyer or law firm must pay any special assessments, surcharges or transaction fees by the dates prescribed by Schedule A.

Practising Certificate

4.1.5  Following receipt of the items listed in subregulation 4.1.2, the Executive Director will issue a practising certificate to each practising lawyer and make available a receipt for fees.

Obligations of Non-practising Members

4.1.6  A non-practising member must, by June 30 of each year, pay the fee prescribed by Schedule A.

Obligations of Retired Members

4.1.7  A retired member must, by June 30 of each year, pay the fee prescribed by Schedule A.

Insurance Exemption

4.1.8  The following practising lawyers are exempt from maintaining the liability insurance provided by the Association:

  1. a practising lawyer employed by a department of the Government of Canada;
  2. a practising lawyer whose only practice is as an adjudicator under the Small Claims Court Act and who files with the Executive Director satisfactory proof of that fact;
  3. a practising lawyer who
    1. is also a lawyer in good standing of another Law Society of Canada with a current practising certificate in the jurisdiction,
    2. maintains a minimum of $1,000,000.00 of liability insurance which coverages provides protection for acts or omissions arising out of professional services performed in Nova Scotia, and
    3. provides proof of such insurance in a form satisfactory to the Executive Director,
  4. a practising lawyer who by resolution of Council is exempted from the requirement.

Insurance and Mobility

4.1.9  Subject to subregulation 4.1.8, the Society will, on application, exempt a lawyer from acquiring liability insurance in Nova Scotia if the lawyer does the following in the jurisdiction of another governing body:

  • is resident in the jurisdiction of another governing body;
  • is a member of that governing body; and
  • maintains liability insurance required in that jurisdiction that provides occurrence or claim limits of $1,000,000.00 and $2,000,000.00 annual per member aggregate and that insurance applies to the applicant’s practice in Nova Scotia.

Resident of Quebec

4.1.10  For the purposes of subregulation 4.1.9, a lawyer or an applicant who is resident in Quebec and who is also a member within the jurisdiction of another governing body other than the Barreau is deemed resident in one (1) of the other jurisdictions in which the lawyer is a member, and will be required to maintain liability insurance in both Quebec and one (1) of the other jurisdictions in which the applicant is a member.

Deemed Residence

4.1.11  Unless otherwise provided, the lawyer applicant will be deemed resident in the jurisdiction in which the lawyer has been a member continuously for the longest period of time.

Member of Barreau

4.1.12  A lawyer who is a member of the Barreau and one (1) or more of the other signatory governing bodies must comply with the liability insurance requirements of the Barreau and at least one (1) of the other signatory governing bodies of which the lawyer is a member.

Insurance

4.1.13  If subregulation 4.1.12 applies, insurance coverage is to be provided as follows:

  • by the professional liability insurance program of the Barreau with respect to services provided by the lawyer as a member of the Barreau;
  • by the professional liability insurance program of the other governing body other than the Barreau with respect to services provided by the lawyer as a member of the governing body other than the Barreau.

4.2 Fees

4.2.1  Fees payable to the Society are set out in Schedule A to these Regulations.

4.2.2  Council must, by resolution, set the fees for:

  • practising lawyers;
  • any administrative fees;
  • non-practising members;
  • retired members; and
  • Canadian Legal Advisors.

4.2.2.1  Council may, by resolution, set reduced fees for practising lawyers.

4.2.2.2  The reduced fee set pursuant to subregulation 4.2.2.1 may be available to lawyers who apply in writing to the Executive Director and demonstrate:

  • that the eligibility criteria for reduced fees has been met, including financial need; and
  • it is in the public interest that their fees be reduced.

Special Assessments

4.2.3  Council may, by resolution, set special assessments, surcharges or transaction fees to be paid for the purpose of the Society by practising lawyers and must set the dates by which the special assessment, surcharge or transaction fee must be paid.

4.2.4  Council must, by resolution, confirm the fees payable to the Association for a:

  • practising lawyer;
  • practising lawyer employed by Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission or Dalhousie Legal Aid Service; and
  • practising lawyer employed in the civil service in the province of Nova Scotia.

4.2.5  Council may, by resolution, set fees for:

  • articling clerks;
  • Bar Admission Program;
  • Bar Examination;
  • admission to the Bar;
  • Changes of Category Applications;
  • reinstatements;
  • temporary practice;
  • transfer applicants;
  • Foreign Legal Consultants; and
  • Canadian Legal Advisors.

4.2.6  Council may, by resolution, set fees for:

  • application to change category of membership from a practising lawyer to a non-practising, retired or life member;
  • application to change category of membership from a non-practising category of membership to a practising lawyer and may set different fees depending on the length of time the applicant has held the non-practising category of membership;
  • a Certificate of Standing;
  • confirmation of a lawyer’s status, including authentication of a lawyer’s signature;
  • an application for a law corporation under subregulation 7.4.2;
  • the renewal of a law corporation permit under subregulation 7.4.7;
  • changes to a law corporation permit under subregulation7.4.14;
  • reinstatement of a law corporation permit under subregulation 7.4.21;
  • an application to register a limited liability partnership under subregulation 7.3.2, based on an amount per Nova Scotia partner;
  • an application to register an extra-provincial limited liability partnership under subregulation 7.3.5, based on an amount per Nova Scotia partner; and
  • renewal of registration of a limited liability partnership under subregulation 7.3.12, based on an amount per Nova Scotia partner.

Fees Paid When Received

4.2.7  Any fee, levy, surcharge or other payment due to the Society is not paid until it is received at the office of the Society or deposited in the account of the Society through on line payment or by pre-authorized payment.

Form of Payment

4.2.8  Notwithstanding subregulation 4.1.2(a), a practising lawyer may pay the total amount required to be paid to the Society under that subregulation by:

  • payment in full by cash, cheque or electronic payment;
  • payment in full by credit card, including the applicable administrative fee;
  • preauthorized monthly payment if the Society has been provided with bank account information so that the Society may draw the amount, including the applicable administrative fee; or
  • post-dated cheques equivalent to the amounts that would be drawn through pre-authorized payment, including the applicable administrative fee.

4.2.9  A lawyer will be considered ineligible for payments pursuant to subregulation 4.2.8(b) – (d) if:

  • two (2) payments made pursuant to subregulation 4.2.8(b) – (d) are not honoured for any reason, including insufficient funds in the lawyer’s account; and
  • the lawyer is suspended pursuant to subregulation 4.5.1(b);

and must pay the remainder of the annual fees then due to the Society.

Proportioning Fees

4.2.10  When a fee being paid is for a portion of the year, that fee is determined by dividing the total feel by twelve (12) and that amount will be multiplied by the number of months remaining in the year without allowance for any partial month.

4.2.11  There will be no proportioning or refunding of any amount paid pursuant to subregulation 4.2.3.

4.2.12  Payment of fees for admission as a lawyer under subregulations 3.8.3, 6.2.3, and 6.6.3 will entitle the admittee to the status of practising lawyer until the last day of the month in which the call to the Bar occurs.

4.3 Annual Lawyer Report

Obligation to File

4.3.1  A lawyer must file the Annual Lawyer Report in the prescribed form by June 30 of each year.

Extension or Waiver

4.3.2  The Executive Director may:

  •  extend the date by which the Annual Lawyer Report is due; or
  • waive the requirement to file the Annual Lawyer Report;

if, in the opinion of the Executive Director, it is appropriate to do so.

Fee for Extension

4.3.3  If, pursuant to subregulation 4.3.2(a), an extension of the date by which the report is due is granted, the lawyer must:

  • file the required report by the new date; and
  • pay the fee prescribed by Schedule A.

Fee for Waiver

4.3.4  A request for a waiver pursuant to subregulation 4.3.2(b) must be accompanied by the fee prescribed by Schedule A.

4.3.5  The Executive Director may, in exceptional circumstances, waive the fee required by subregulations 4.3.2 or 4.3.4.

Annual Lawyer Report Contents

4.3.6  The Annual Lawyer Report will be in the prescribed form and contain:

  • the lawyer’s mailing and civic address;
  • the lawyer’s telephone number;
  • the lawyer’s email address;
  • a lawyer’s language proficiencies for the practice of law and delivery of legal services;
  • a lawyer’s areas of practice and the approximate percentage associated with each area;
  • whether a lawyer has handled trust money or property;
  • whether a lawyer has held trust money or property in a representative capacity as defined in subregulation 10.1.2;
  • whether a lawyer has borrowed from or loaned money to clients;
  • information about the planning for continuing professional development and continuing legal education undertaken by the lawyer in accordance with Regulation 8.3; and
  • such other information as Council may prescribe.

4.4 Notice to Society: Bankruptcy, Judgment, Criminal Charges, Guilty of Offence

Duty to Report

4.4.1  A lawyer, law corporation, or the lawyer designated under Regulation 4.7 must immediately advise the Executive Director when the lawyer or law corporation:

  1. is served with a petition in bankruptcy under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (Canada);
  2. makes an assignment of property for the benefit of creditors, including an assignment under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (Canada);
  3. presents a proposal in bankruptcy to creditors under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (Canada);
  4. earns that a judgment has been entered against the lawyer;
  5. is subject to an order for costs against the lawyer personally;
  6. is charged with, pleads guilty to or is found guilty of any offence under the
    1. Criminal Code (Canada),
    2. Controlled Drug and Substances Act (Canada),
    3. Income Tax Act (Canada),
    4. Customs and Excise Act (Canada), or
    5. Securities Act of any province of Canada,
  7. is suspended by the governing body of the legal profession in another jurisdiction;
  8. is charged with a discipline offence in another jurisdiction;
  9. is found guilty of a discipline offence in another jurisdiction.

Judgments – Particulars

4.4.3  A notice under subregulation 4.4.1(d) must contain:

  • the name of the lawyer for the judgment creditor, if any;
  • the amount of the judgment;
  • where no appeal has been taken from the judgment, whether the member intends to take such an appeal;
  • where an appeal from the judgment has been taken, the fact the appeal has been taken; and
  • whether or not arrangements, which are satisfactory to the judgment creditor, have been made to pay the judgment.

Additional Information

4.4.4  The Executive Director may require the lawyer to provide additional information for more complete examination outlining the circumstances relating to any of the matters referred to in subregulation 4.4.1 and the lawyer must respond fully within the time prescribed by the Executive Director.

4.3 Suspensions

Lawyer is Suspended

4.5.1  A lawyer will be suspended if:

  • the requirements of subregulation 4.1.1 are not met by June 30;
  • the payment of any special assessments, surcharges or transaction fee required by subregulation 4.1.4 is not made by the dates prescribed by these Regulations or Schedule A;
  • a pre-authorized monthly payment permitted by subregulation 4.1.3 is not made at the appropriate time;
  • the requirements of subregulations 4.11.2 and 4.11.4 are not met by the specified time;
  • the payments of any individual deductible required by Regulation 12.6 is not made in accordance with the Regulation; or
  • all fees have not been paid by June 30 as required by subregulation 8.4.4;

and while suspended the lawyer must not engage in the practice of law or the delivery of legal services and is not entitled to any of the rights and privileges of a member of the Society.

Suspension Effective July 1

4.5.2  The suspension of a lawyer pursuant to subregulation 4.5.1(a) will be effective on July 1.

Alternate Date

4.5.3  Despite 4.5.2, the Executive Director may, on receipt of the lawyer’s written request, set an alternative date for suspension if such alternate date is in the public interest.

Obligation of Lawyer Suspended

4.5.4  A lawyer who practices as a sole practitioner and who is suspended at the time that a Trust Account Report is due remains obligated to file the trust account report.

Waiver of Suspension

4.5.5  Notwithstanding subregulations 4.5.1 and 4.5.2, the Executive Director may waive the suspension of a lawyer for non-payment of fees if that member has made application to change membership category and that application was received prior to the date the payment was due.

4.5.5.1  The Executive Director may, in exceptional circumstances, waive the suspension of a lawyer for non-payment of fees pursuant to subregulation 4.5.1(f).

Notification

4.5.6  When a lawyer has been suspended under this Regulation, the Executive Director must:

  • notify both the lawyer and the Designated Lawyer of the suspension and the effective date;
  • amend the records of the Society to reflect the suspension and the effective date; and
  • notify all Prothonotaries, Court Administrators and Registrars and other public offices that may be affected by the suspension.

Publication

4.5.7  When a lawyer has been suspended under this Regulation, the Executive Director may:

  • cause a notice of the suspension to appear in a newspaper of general circulation in the Province, which advises that the lawyer has been suspended and is not entitled to practice law or deliver legal services; and
  • unless otherwise directed by the Executive Committee, require the suspended lawyer to reimburse the Society for all reasonable costs associated with publishing the notice as a condition precedent to the lawyer’s reinstatement.

Reinstatement After Suspension

4.5.8  When a lawyer has been suspended pursuant to subregulation 4.5.1, the lawyer must apply to be reinstated after:

  • filing the required forms; and
  • payment of the reinstatement fee prescribed by Schedule A to these Regulations and the remainder of the annual fees and any special assessments, surcharges or transaction fees outstanding at the time of the suspension.

Executive Director May Approve

4.5.9  The Executive Director may approve an application under subregulation 4.5.8 unless the Executive Director is required to refer the application to the Credentials Committee under subregulation 4.5.10.

Public Interest

4.5.10  If the facts disclosed in the application or otherwise known to the Society raise public interest issues which require, in the opinion of the Executive Director, consideration by the Credentials Committee, the Executive Director will forward the application to the Committee.

Credentials Committee May Approve

4.5.11  When the Credentials Committee is satisfied that it is consistent with the public interest, it may approve the application for reinstatement upon such terms and conditions as it deems appropriate.

Notice of Reinstatement

4.5.12  When a suspended lawyer has been reinstated under this Regulation, the Executive Director must:

  • notify both the lawyer and the Designated Lawyer of the reinstatement and the effective date;
  • notify all Prothonotaries, Court Administrators and Registrars and other public offices of the reinstatement and the effective date; and
  • amend the records of the Society to reflect the reinstatement and the effective date.

Notice – Suspended or Disbarred

4.5.13  When a lawyer has been suspended or disbarred pursuant to Sections 37 or 45 of the Act, the Executive Director must:

  • cause a notice to appear in a newspaper of general circulation in the Province, with advises that the lawyer has been suspended or disbarred and is not entitled to practice; and
  • notify all Prothonotaries, Court Administrators and Registrars and other public offices that may be affected by the suspension or disbarment.

Manner of Notice

4.5.14  Whenever any notice is required by the Act or the Regulations to be given to a lawyer, such notice may be personally served on the lawyer or mailed by ordinary mail or left at the lawyer’s last known address.

Effect of Notice

4.5.15  Failure of any person to receive the notice to which he or she is entitled will not invalidate the ensuing proceedings.

Suspension of Non-practising Lawyer

4.5.16  A non-practising lawyer who does not pay the annual fee pursuant to this Regulation is suspended.

Notification

4.5.17  When a non-practising lawyer has been suspended pursuant to subregulation 4.5.16, the Executive Director must:

  • notify the non-practising lawyer of the suspension and the effective date; and
  • amend the records of the Society to reflect the suspension and the effective date.

Reinstatement

4.5.18  When a non-practising lawyer has been suspended pursuant to subregulation 4.5.16, the non-practising lawyer may apply to be reinstated after payment of the annual fee and the reinstatement fee prescribed by Schedule A.

4.4 Compliance Obligations of Law Firms and Sole Practitioners

List of Obligations – Law Firm

4.6.1  A law firm must:

  • keep the Society informed of its current mailing address, civic address, telephone number and email address;
  • keep the Society informed of the names of all lawyers associated with the law firm and the electronic contact information, including email addresses, for all lawyers and law corporations associated with the law firm;
  • appoint a Designated Lawyer in accordance with subregulation 4.7.1;
  • have a management system for ethical legal practice;
  • provide to the Society the self-assessment in the form and with the frequency prescribed by the Executive Director or these Regulations;
  • maintain a written succession plan in accordance with subregulations 4.6.4 through 4.6.6;
  • submit an Annual Firm Report;
  • if the law firm operates a trust account, file a Trust Account Report, as required by Regulation 4.11 and, if required by the Executive Director, an accountant’s report on the Trust Account Report;
  • provide written notice to the Executive Director of the closure of a general trust account;
  • if the law firm or an office of the law firm with more than one (1) office in the Province is a principal, designate a lawyer, who individually qualifies to be a principal, to be the supervising lawyer responsible for the Education Plan and individual Articling Plans and to oversee the educational experience of articled clerks pursuant to Part 3 of these Regulations; and
  • maintain foundation documents on behalf of lawyers practising real estate in the law firm pursuant to Part 8 of these Regulations, unless the obligation is transferred pursuant to that Part.

List of Obligations – Sole Practitioner

4.6.2  A sole practitioner must:

  • keep the Society informed of their current mailing address, civic address, telephone number and email address;
  • have a management system for ethical legal practice;
  • provide to the Society the self-assessment in the form and with the frequency prescribed by the Executive Director or these Regulations;
  • maintain a written succession plan in accordance with subregulations 4.6.4 through 4.6.6;
  • submit an Annual Firm Report;
  • if the sole practitioner operates a trust account, file a Trust Account Report as required by Regulation 4.11 and, if required by the Executive Director, an accountant’s report on the Trust Account Report;
  • provide written notice to the Executive Director’s office of the closure of a general trust account; and
  • maintain foundation documents pursuant to Part 8 of these Regulations, unless the obligation is transferred pursuant to that Part.

Succession Plan

4.6.3  A law firm or sole practitioner must maintain a current succession plan for the practice, including all lawyers in the firm:

  • annually review the succession plan; and
  • pursuant to Regulation 4.11, report to the Executive Director regarding the succession plan.

4.6.4  A succession plan must contemplate the unique arrangements that will be necessary in the event of the cessation of the lawyer’s practice for any reason, including:

  • temporary disability or incapacity;
  • long term disability or incapacity; and
  • death of the lawyer.

4.6.5  At a minimum, a succession plan must include information and adequate arrangements to allow for the handling of clients and management of the practice with regard to the following, where applicable:

  • open and closed files;
  • wills and wills indices;
  • foundation documents and other important records;
  • other valuable property;
  • passwords and the means to access computers, email, accounting, and other electronic records;
  • trust accounts and trust funds;
  • other accounts related to the member’s practice; and
  • any other arrangements necessary to carry on or wind up the lawyer’s unique practice.

4.3  Designated Lawyer

Appointment

4.7.1    Every law firm must appoint a Designated Lawyer.

Qualifications

4.7.2  For the purposes of these Regulations, a Designated Lawyer is:

  • a practising lawyer; and
  • of sufficient authority within the law firm to fulfill the duties of the role.

Designated Lawyer’s Obligations

4.7.3  The Designated Lawyer:

  • must submit, on behalf of the law firm, the self-assessment tool as required by Regulation 4.9;
  • must use reasonable efforts to provide complete and accurate information when submitting the self-assessment, but by submitting the form is not personally responsible for the firm’s obligations;
  • must complete the Trust Account Assessment pursuant to subregulation 4.10.2.1, if applicable;
  • will receive communications from the Society;
  • must ensure that the law firm maintains foundation documents as required by Part 8 of these Regulations;
  • will receive communications from the Association relating to claims; and
  • must submit the Annual Firm Report, including, if applicable, the Trust Account Report, as required by Regulation 4.11.

Appoint New Designated Lawyer

4.7.4  If the Designated Lawyer for a law firm of two (2) or more lawyers:

  • has been charged pursuant to Part III of the Act;
  • has been suspended pursuant to Part III of the Act;
  • has any practice restrictions imposed by order of the Complaints Investigation Committee or otherwise under the Act or Regulations; or
  • becomes unable to fulfill their obligations under this Regulation for any other reason;

the law firm must appoint a new Designated Lawyer at the earliest opportunity and advise the Society of the appointment.

Communications

4.7.5  The Designated Lawyer will receive communications from the Society, including:

  • a complaint against the law firm under Part 9 of these Regulations;
  • reports regarding an LRA Audit under Part 13 of these Regulations;
  • a copy of each complaint against a member of the Society associated with the law firm under Part 9 of these Regulations;
  • a copy of each determination or decision made pursuant to Part 9 of these Regulations or Part III of the Act relating to a member of the Society associated with the law firm;
  • information about a lawyer’s failure to comply with the requirements for continuing professional development as reported in the Annual Lawyer Report filed pursuant to subregulation 4.3.1; and
  • a copy of other materials relating to the processes prescribed by Part III of the Act, if so requested by the Designated Lawyer, provided that the member of the Society was associated with the law firm at the time the matter which is the subject matter of the complaint took place.

Firm Change

4.7.6  If a lawyer changes law firms after the matter which is the subject of a complaint took place, the Designated Lawyer of the original firm will receive a copy of the materials listed in subregulation 4.7.5 and the Designated Lawyer of the lawyer’s current law firm must be notified of the existence of the complaint and any other information that is not subject to lawyer-client privilege or confidentiality that the Executive Director determines is proper to convey.

Other Firm Communications

4.7.7  The Designated Lawyer may, by notice in writing to the Executive Director, appoint a person associated with the law firm to receive communications or copies of communications from the Society and to deal with matters of an administrative nature.

4.4  Registration of Law Firms

Registration

4.8.1  The Executive Director must maintain within the records of the Society a list of all law firms, which will be considered to be registered law firms pursuant to Section 24 of the Act.

Purpose of Registration

4.8.2  The purpose of registering a law firm is to:

  • assist the Society in its engagement with law firms; and
  • enable the law firm to effectively carry out their obligations as law firms under the Act and these Regulations.

Confirmation of Registration

4.8.3  Each law firm registered by the Executive Director pursuant to subregulation 4.8.1 will receive confirmation:

  • it has been registered;
  • of the names of the lawyers associated with the firm;
  • of the name of the Designated Lawyer; and
  • it may correct the information provided by the Executive Director.

Registration Required

4.8.4  After December 31, 2017, a new law firm musts be registered as a law firm by the Executive Director before it practises law and delivers legal services.

Registration Process

4.8.5  A new law firm must file a request for registration with the Executive Director in the prescribed form that must include:

  • the names of the lawyers and law corporations associated with the law firm;
  • the nature of the association between the lawyers and law corporations within the firm;
  • the name of the Designated Lawyer;
  • the names of any individuals who are not lawyers, who will assist in or deliver legal services through the law firm;
  • the mailing address, civic address, telephone number, and email address for the law firm;
  • the electronic contact information, including email addresses, for all lawyers and law corporations associated with the firm; and
  • unless approval has been granted pursuant the subregulation 4.10.4, an undertaking from the proposed Designated Lawyer that the law firm will not hold money or property in trust until the law firm has received approval to operate a trust account.

Prior to Registration

4.8.6  If a new law firm begins to practice law and deliver legal services prior to being registered, the Executive Director will:

  • require the law firm to provide the information required by subregulation 4.8.5; and
  • specify the timeframe within which the information is to be provided.

Review of Obligations

4.8.7  The Executive Director may meet with the Designated Lawyer or all lawyers associated with the new registered law firm to review:

  • the law firm’s regulatory obligations;
  • the law firm’s knowledge and ability to comply with the regulatory requirements applicable to law firms;
  • the law firm’s knowledge of the elements required for a management system for ethical legal practice;
  • the requirement to complete the self-assessment pursuant to subregulation 4.9.1 and the likely timing as it pertains to the law firm;
  • the resources available from the Society and otherwise to assist the law firm in its practice of law and delivery of legal services;
  • the role and obligations of the Designated Lawyer; and
  • such other matters that the Executive Director determines are appropriate given the circumstances and plans for the new law firm.

Sole Practice – New

4.8.8  A lawyer who is opening a sole practice must notify the Executive Director before the lawyer begins to practise law and deliver legal services as a sole practitioner.

Sole Practice – Review of Obligations

4.8.9  Following the notification in subregulation 4.8.8, the Executive Director may meet with the sole practitioner to review:

  • the lawyer’s regulatory obligations;
  • the lawyer’s knowledge of and ability to comply with the regulatory requirements applicable to sole practitioners;
  • the lawyer’s knowledge of the elements required for a management system for ethical legal practice;
  • the requirement to complete the self-assessment pursuant to subregulation 4.9.1 and the likely timing as it pertains to the sole practitioner;
  • the resources available from the Society and otherwise to assist the lawyer in the practice of law and delivery of legal services; and
  • such other matters that the Executive Director determines are appropriate given the circumstances and plans for the new sole practice.

Two or More Law Firms Join

4.8.10  When two (2) or more law firms join together to create a new law firm, the provisions of subregulations 4.8.4 to 4.8.7 apply with any necessary changes.

Law Firm Changes Ownership

4.8.11  If there is a material change in ownership of a law firm, the provisions of subregulations 4.8.4 to 4.8.7 apply with any necessary changes, unless the Executive Director otherwise determines.

Additional Requirements

4.8.12  The requirements of this Regulation are in addition to the requirements for a lawyer or a group of lawyers to apply to become a law corporation under subregulation 7.4.4 or a limited liability partnership under subregulation 7.3.4.

4.5  Self-Assessment

Request to Submit

4.9.1  Commencing January 2018, the Executive Director may request that a law firm or sole practitioner:

  • record the findings from their self-assessment for the prescribed reporting period; and
  • submit the completed self-assessment tool to the Executive Director by a specified date.

Purpose of Self-Assessment

4.9.2  The purpose of self-assessment is to assist:

  • law firms and sole practitioners in maintaining and enhancing their management system for ethical legal practice; and
  • the Society in its engagement with law firms and sole practitioners.

Tri-Annual Reporting

4.9.3  The regular reporting period for the self-assessment is once every three (3) years.

Reporting Outside the Regular Period

4.9.4  The Executive Director may, when it is in the public interest to do so, require a law firm or sole practitioner to complete the self-assessment outside of the regular reporting period.

Failure to Submit

4.9.5  A failure to comply with subregulations 4.9.1 or 4.9.3 will not result in an investigation pursuant to subregulation 9.2.1.

Information Obtained

4.9.6  If a self-assessment indicates that a law firm or sole practitioner does not have in place appropriate policies, practices and systems to support the elements for a management system for ethical legal practice, such reporting will not result in an investigation pursuant to subregulation 9.2.1.

Revised Deadline

4.9.7  If a self-assessment is not submitted by the date specified by the Executive Director, the Executive Director will set a revised deadline and assist the law firm in submitting the self-assessment.

4.6 Operating a Trust Account

Approval to Operate a Trust Account

4.10.1  After January 1, 2018, a practising lawyer or law firm that does not operate a general trust account may not accept trust money or trust property without approval to operate a general trust account pursuant to subregulation 4.10.4.

Application

4.10.2  A lawyer or law firm may apply to the Executive Director to operate a general trust account.

Trust Account Assessment

4.10.2.1  If a lawyer or law firm applying to open a general trust account has not previously had such an account or has not operated a trust account in the last three (3) years, the lawyer or in the case of a law firm, all practising lawyers who will have signing authority on the trust account, must successfully complete a Trust Account Assessment, prescribed by the Executive Director, that demonstrates familiarity with Part 10 of the Regulations and an ability to operate a general trust account and maintain proper accounting records in compliance with those Regulations.

Requirements for Operating a Trust Account

4.10.3  Prior to operating a general trust account, a lawyer or law firm through its Designated Lawyer, must:

  • successfully complete a Trust Account Assessment as required by subregulation 4.10.2.1;
  • provide a certificate in the prescribed form from a licensed professional accountant confirming that the practising lawyer or law firm has in place a trust accounting system that will enable compliance with Part 10 of the Regulations;
  • confirm that appropriate arrangements, in writing, have been made with the financial institution to comply with the requirements of Section 30 of the Act;
  • in the case of a lawyer, hold a practising certificate; and
  • meet such other requirements as may be prescribed by Council.

Executive Director Must Approve

4.10.4  When the requirements of subregulation 4.10.3 have been met, the Executive Director must approve a practising lawyer or law firm to operate a general trust account.

Signing Authority

4.10.4.1  After January 1, 2019, any practising lawyer who has not previously operated a trust account or has not operated a trust account in the last three (3) years, must successfully complete the Trust Account Assessment before they are permitted to be added as a signatory to a trust account.

4.10.4.2  Any employee of the practising lawyer or law firm who has signing authority or other direct involvement in the operation of a trust account should successfully complete the Trust Account Assessment.

Trust Account Closure

4.10.5  Upon the closing of a general trust account, the practising lawyer or law firm must immediately give written notice to the Executive Director and provide:

  • confirmation that the account has been closed; and
  • if applicable, confirmation that the Law Foundation has been advised of the trust account closure.

Final Trust Account Report

4.10.6  The practising lawyer or law firm must file a final Trust Account Report in compliance with subregulations 4.11.2 and 4.11.4, unless the Executive Director waives the requirement.

4.10.7  The Executive Director will provide a practising lawyer or law firm with assistance in closing a trust account upon receipt of a written request accompanied by the prescribed fee.

  •  The Executive Director may, in exceptional circumstances, waive the fee required by subregulation 4.10.7.

4.11 Annual Reporting

Annual Firm Report

4.11.1  An annual firm report must be filed by March 31, for the twelve (12) months ending December 31 each year, unless another time is prescribed by the Executive Director, that confirms:

  • the names of all lawyers associated with the law firm, and the nature of their association;
  • the names of individuals who are not lawyers, who assist in or deliver legal services through the law firm and the nature of the legal services they provide;
  • the location and particulars of all law firm bank accounts and trust accounts operated by the law firm;
  • the names and responsibilities of employees of the law firm, or others, who maintain the accounting records of the firm;
  • all lawyers associated with the law firm have written succession plans and the location of those succession plans;
  • all lawyers associated with the law firm are in compliance with the obligations to create and adhere to a continuing professional development plan pursuant to subregulation 8.3.5 to 8.3.11; and
  • such other information as may be required by Council.

Trust Account Report

4.11.2  A Trust Account Report in the prescribed form must be filed with the Executive Director by March 31 of each year by all practising lawyers or law firms operating one (1) or more general trust account.

Content of Trust Account Report

4.11.3  The Trust Account Report must confirm the books, records and accounts and related files of the practising lawyer or law firm have been maintained in respect of the obligations prescribed by Parts 4 and 10 of the Regulations.

Accountant’s Report on the Trust Account

4.11.4  Subject to subregulation 4.11.8(b), an accountant’s report on the trust account, in the prescribed form, must be filed with the Executive Director by March 31 each year.

Report by a Public Accountant

4.11.5  The accountant’s report must be:

  • prepared by a public accountant licensed under the Public Accountant’s Act;
  • confirm that the review required to be performed by the public accountant has been done in accordance with the prescribed standards; and
  • verify the accuracy of information contained in part of the Trust Account Report prepared by the practising lawyer or law firm.

Additional Information on Reports

4.11.6  When a Trust Account Report indicates that the practising lawyer or law firm has not maintained books, records and accounts as required by Part 10 of the Regulations, the Executive Director may:

  • require the practising lawyer or Designated Lawyer to provide additional information;
  • require the practising lawyer or Designated Lawyer to file documents with the Society to demonstrate compliance with Part 10 of the Regulations;
  • require the practising lawyer or Designated Lawyer to file additional Trust Account Reports at times or intervals specified by the Executive Director; and
  • take such other action as is necessary to ensure compliance by the practising lawyer or law firm with Part 10 of the Regulations.

Additional Information from Accountant

4.11.7  In order to assist the Society in fulfilling its purpose, the Executive Director may request the public accountant who prepared the accountant’s report to provide additional information about the books, records and accounts of the practising lawyer or law firm.

Extension or Waiver

4.11.8  The Executive Director may:

  • extend the date by which a report is due pursuant to subregulation 4.11.1 or 4.11.2; or
  • waive the requirement to file the accountant’s report;

if, in the opinion of the Executive Director, it is appropriate to do so.

Fee for Extension

4.11.9  If, pursuant to subregulation 4.11.8(a), an extension of the date by which a report is due is granted, the lawyer or law firm must:

  • file the required report by the new date; and
  • pay the fee prescribed by Schedule A.

Fee for Waiver

4.11.10  A request for a waiver pursuant to subregulation 4.11.8(b) must be accompanied by the fee prescribed by Schedule A.

4.11.11  The Executive Director may, in exceptional circumstances, waive the fee required by subregulations 4.11.9 or 4.11.10.

4.12 Cash Transactions