Recent rule and by-law amendments
The lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct, the Paralegal Rules of Conduct and the Paralegal Professional Conduct Guidelines were amended regarding the following matters:
Advertising residential real estate services
New rules for the advertising of fixed-price residential real estate services were approved to support transparency and ensure consumers may easily compare prices. The rule amendments were recommended by the Advertising and Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group.
Dishonesty, Fraud by client or others
The lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct and the Paralegal Rules of Conduct were amended to reflect minor changes to the Rules in accordance with the Model Code of Professional Conduct of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. The amendments relate to a lawyer’s and paralegal’s obligations regarding dishonesty, fraud, crime or illegal conduct by a client or others.
Competence and the provision of legal opinions
Amendments to the commentary of the lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct and the Paralegal Professional Conduct Guidelines provide additional guidance about the provision of legal opinions. The impetus for the amendments was the recommendation by the Canadian Bar Association Legal Futures Initiative, which emphasized the importance of lawyer independence and raised the possibility of undue influence being exercised by powerful clients over a licensee’s legal opinions.
The Paralegal Rules of Conduct that address a client’s right to receive legal services in the official language of their choice were amended to include explicit reference to aboriginal languages. This reflects similar amendments made to the lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct in September 2015.
Leaving a firm
Amendments to the lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct, the Paralegal Rules of Conduct and Paralegal Professional Conduct Guidelines clarify licensee obligations when leaving a firm, including issues of client choice of legal representative, how a licensee and firm should interact when a licensee departs and how licensees should provide notice of the departure to clients.
Incriminating physical evidence
The following was added to the Commentary to the lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct and Paralegal Professional Conduct Guidelines: “The (lawyer’s or paralegal’s) advice to a client that the client has the right to refuse to divulge the location of physical evidence does not constitute hindering an investigation”.