Legal Profession Act (closed)

This engagement is now closed. It ran from 2017-08-18 to 2017-09-07.

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Results at a glance

The Department of Justice developed questions based on discussions held with the Law Society of Yukon and the issues noted in their policy paper and subsequent addendums. We then engaged with targeted stakeholders and the public.

The survey results, along with some of the feedback we received, either in support of or against the policy direction has formed the bulk of the drafting instructions.

Q. Do you believe that an updated Legal Profession Act should provide a framework for the regulation of the legal profession with operational requirements fully articulated with the Rules of the Law Society of Yukon?

Responses: 45 (Agree = 77.8%, Disagree = 6.7%, Not sure = 15.5%)

There was overwhelming agreement that this was the correct tact to take in regards to the updated statute. Those who were not in favour are of the belief that increasing the Law Society’s abilities to make rules instead of enshrining all operational provisions in the statute itself is contrary to the public interest, as government and its elected officials should be the ones to safeguard those interests. 

Q. Should government regulatory approval of the Society’s Rules be removed?

Responses: 44 (Agree = 54.5%, Disagree = 25.0%, Not sure = 20.5%)

There was general agreement that to protect the public interest, the Law Society of Yukon’s rules should not be subject to government oversight. 

Q. Should an updated Legal Profession Act include a broad definition of the provision of legal services and set out which categories of members can engage in the full provision of those services (lawyers, law firms, law corporations) and which may engage in a more limited scope of service (paralegals, Aboriginal Court Workers)?

Responses: 45 (Agree = 71.1%, Disagree = 11.1%, Not sure = 17.8%)

Most respondents tended to agree that there are benefits to allowing for alternative service providers to provide a more limited scope of legal services, so long as those services are clearly outlined and regulated fairly.

Q. Do you think that the Law Society should be able to stop someone who is not authorized from practicing law without also having to charge that person with an offence?

Responses: 45 (Agree = 66.7%, Disagree = 26.7%, Not sure = 6.6%)

Most respondents were in favour of allowing the Society to seek an injunction or interim order to suspend or put conditions on a member’s practice before or in lieu of laying a charge, while an investigation of that member’s practice can take place.

Q. If a person is charged with an offence, should each day that an offence is committed constitute a separate finable offence up to a maximum of $250,000?

Responses: 45 (Yes = 42.2%, No = 22.2%, Not sure = 35.6%)

Responses to this question were quite varied, but in almost all cases noted that fines should be updated to provide a stronger deterrent for unauthorized practice.

Q. Should the Act differentiate between issues of member competence and issues of capacity outside of the formal complaint process, where mental health issues or addictions impact a member’s ability to practice?

Responses: 45 (Yes = 60.0%, No = 17.8%, Not sure = 22.2%)

The majority of responses agreed that matter of incompetence and matters of incapacity should be dealt with differently, though there were some respondents felt that an investigation is always appropriate in these matters, but that remedies should be different for dealing with incapacity.

What was this engagement about?

The Government of Yukon wishes to amend the Legal Profession Act, with the goal of tabling a bill during the fall legislative session.

The current Act has not kept up with changes to the way the legal profession is regulated in other Canadian jurisdictions, and needs flexibility to deal with the way the legal profession has changed over the last 20 years.

The government is seeking the views of lawyers, legal organizations and the business community. Members of the general public are also encouraged to submit their opinions.

How will my input make a difference?

Public input will help the government develop modern legislation that is built on best practices and operates in the public interest. The goal is to update the Legal Professions Act to regulate legal services more effectively.

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