The Law Society of Yukon (Society) is responsible for regulating the legal profession in the Yukon. Lawyers in the Yukon are responsible for maintaining standards of ethical and professional conduct. If the Society receives a complaint about a lawyer’s conduct, it will review that conduct and assess whether it meets the standard.
A breach of the Code or the Rules, or any other failure to act ethically and competently, might be a basis for a complaint.
For example, lawyers are required to:
- be honest;
- keep clients informed by responding promptly to telephone calls or letters and completing work in a timely fashion;
- respect client confidentiality;
- not act in a conflict of interest (such as acting against a former client or improperly sharing a business interest with a client);
- safeguard client funds and property; and
- practise in a competent manner.
The Society’s role
The Society receives complaints about lawyers from members of the public, clients, other lawyers and judges. Once a complaint is received, the Society must follow a specific process required by the Legal Profession Act, 2017. The Society has a duty to respond to all complaints.
In dealing with a complaint about a lawyer, the Society must in general:
- protect the public;
- hold its members accountable for their own actions; and
- decide if there is a basis for investigation or disciplinary action.
THE COMPLAINT PROCESS
How you can make a complaint:
- Complete the appropriate complaint form found below.
- Include copies of documents related to your complaint.
- Make sure that your current address, phone number and email are on the form so that the Society can contact you if more information is needed and when a decision is made.
What the Society does:
- The Society will contact you to confirm receipt of your complaint in writing.
- Your complaint will be sent to the Chair of the Society’s Complaints Investigation Committee (the “CIC Chair”). The CIC Chair examines every complaint. The CIC Chair must determine whether the complaint requires investigation or is “dismissible”:
- If the CIC Chair determines that the complaint is “dismissible” as set out under section 56 of the Legal Profession Act, the complaint will be closed with no further action.
- If the CIC Chair determines that the complaint is not dismissible and an investigation is required, an investigator will be assigned to administer your complaint.
- In most cases where an investigation is directed, your complaint will be sent to the lawyer and they are required to respond. You may be provided with a copy of that response.
- You will receive periodic updates on the status of your complaint.
- When the investigation of the complaint is complete, you will be informed of the investigator’s decision. The possible outcomes for a complaint after an investigation are set out in section 64 of the Legal Profession Act.
- If your complaint is dismissed following an investigation, you may appeal that decision to the Complaint Dismissal Review Committee.
How long does the process take?
Examining a complaint can be a time-intensive process and complaints are generally examined in the order in which they are received. Every matter is carefully assessed according to a process that is fair and consistent for both the complainant and the lawyer involved. The process can take anywhere from 3 months to 1 year or longer to complete, depending upon the size and complexity of the investigation.
What the Society cannot do.
The Law Society does not have the authority to:
- give legal advice;
- pay compensation;
- change the decision of a court;
- insist that a lawyer take a case, remain on or withdraw from a case or take specific action in a case;
- find that a lawyer was ‘negligent’ as that term is used by civil courts;
- address complaints about a Judge; or
- Change a lawyer’s fees or billings or order a lawyer to make a refund.
If you have a complaint about your lawyer’s bill, contact the Clerk of the Yukon Supreme Court. The Clerk is located at the Court Registry, Law Courts Building at 2130 – 2nd Avenue, Whitehorse or call 867- 667-5441.
Lawyer Negligence (saying that your lawyer made a mistake)
Your complaint to the Society regarding a lawyer’s conduct does not amount to your making a claim against that lawyer with respect to potential negligence on their part.
The Society cannot pay you money or make a lawyer pay you money because of the lawyer’s mistake.
If you believe that your lawyer was negligent, we recommend that you seek legal advice about your options, bearing in mind that time limits exist under the Limitation of Actions Act after which you may not be able to pursue a claim.
If you have questions, contact the Executive Director at 867-668-4231 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.