Lawyers Must Report Charges
Under a by-law approved this month by convocation, lawyers must report five types of charges: all criminal charges except summary conviction offences; drug charges; Income Tax Act charges that allege dishonesty or relate to the practice of law; offences relating to securities statutes that allege dishonesty or relate to the practice of law; and offences under any other federal or provincial law that allege dishonesty or relate to the practice of law. Members also must report on the disposition of the charge.
The by-law, which also applies to articling students, was adopted to protect the public. On learning of a charge, the Law Society of Upper Canada could take steps such as suspending the member pending disposition of the charge.
Not all benchers supported the by-law. Some argued it violated the presumption of innocence.
Ontario becomes only the second province after British Columbia to require lawyers to report charges. In Nova Scotia, Alberta and Manitoba, lawyers must report convictions only.