The new Legal Profession Act, 2017 was assented to November 27, 2017 but not proclaimed pending completion of the new Rules.
A copy of the Legal Profession Act, 2017 and proposed new Rules are available here:
Process for approval of Rules and proclaiming of Act
A final draft of the proposed Rules in both languages will be circulated to the members once it has been translated. The Executive will give at least 30 days notice of a meeting of the Executive to approve Part 1 and Part 2 of the new Rules.
Pursuant to s.27(1) of the new Act, Rules regarding governance of the Society require the approval of its members.
Following approval by the Executive, a Special General Meeting will be held for member approval of Part 1.
Once the Rules have been approved by the Executive and members as required, the Rules will be forwarded to Yukon Government to be proclaimed with the new Act on a day fixed by the Commissioner in Executive Council.
Brief Overview of new Rules
While portions of the new Rules remain unchanged from the existing Rules, there have been significant changes on the Division on Discipline.
Some other changes that may be of particular interest to members include:
Part 1 – Governance Rules
The Executive draws to your attention the following changes from the existing Rules:
- Executive term of office:
- President’s term changes from 1 year to 2 years;
- Terms of other elected members of the Executive change from 1 year to 3 years.
- Office of 1st Vice-President Discipline and 2nd Vice-President CLE are eliminated and replaced with one Vice-President.
- Executive designates from amongst the elected members of the Executive a Vice-President in addition to a Secretary and Treasurer.
- Vacancies of elected Executive members can be filled by special election.
- Eligible voter includes non-practicing and retired members.
Part 2 – Rules for the Regulation of its Members Generally
Much of the Rules in Part 2 are reflective of the existing Rules with some up-dates and modernization.
The most significant changes are contained in Division 13 – Discipline of Members, where a new structure has been established. The new Rules provide for a Complaints Investigation Committee (“CIC”) to receive complaints. The CIC Chair may refer complaints to the Fitness to Practice Committee, if deemed appropriate, or to an Investigator to carry out any investigations and dispose of the complaint as provided for under s.64 of the Act, including referral of a disciplinary charge to the Discipline Committee.
The basic process will be:
- complaints will be given to the CIC Chair who will examine them to determine whether they are dismissible pursuant to s.49(2) of the Act (not within its jurisdiction, vexatious, etc.)
- if the complaint is not dismissed it will be referred to an Investigator, who will administer the complaint from start to finish, or to the Fitness to Practice Committee if appropriate and the member consents
- the Investigator has the power to both investigate and dispose of the complaint as set out in the Act;
- disposition of a complaint can include a number of options including dismissal, referral of the matter to the Fitness to Practice Committee, the member entering into a Consent Order to do certain things, a conduct review, or if it cannot be otherwise resolved, referral to the Discipline Committee for hearing;
- complaints that are dismissed can be appealed in writing to the Complaint Dismissal Review Committee and the Committee may hear and dispose of an appeal based on documents and written submissions without an oral hearing.
Other notable changes in Part 2 of the new Rules include:
Division 6: Articled Students
- Principals must be approved in advance.
- Principals must have provided legal services for at least 7 years as opposed to 5 years.
- Students-at-law can receive credit for time clerking to a maximum of 5 months.
- Students-at-law may do external rotations out of Yukon with prior approval.
- Principals may only have one student-at-law at a time as opposed to two.
Division 7: Members – Lawyers
- Members of the Barreau du Quebec with a Canadian Civil Law Degree can be admitted as full members rather than as Canadian Legal Advisors.
Division 11: Non-practising Members, Retired Members & Resignations
- A member who does not renew their membership before January 31 is automatically suspended until the renewal form is received and applicable fees have been paid including a late fee – discretion is removed.
- A member who is automatically suspended for failing to renew their membership for 12 months or more must make application to have their suspension lifted and the Society may impose additional requirements.
Division 12: Continuing Professional Development
- A member may request a reduction in the required number of CPD hours due to illness or parental leave.
Division 14: Compensation Fund
- Name changed from “Special Fund” to “Compensation Fund”.
- All active members must pay into the Compensation Fund and there are no longer any exemptions.
Division 15: Professional Liability Coverage
- An active member, not exempt from insurance, who intends to remain a member of the Society but not have insurance on the basis that they won’t provide legal services in Yukon must become a non-practicing or retired member no later than the date their professional liability coverage terminates, or if previously exempt, no later than the date their exemption ends.
- An active member requiring professional liability coverage who does not pay their insurance assessment by the date payment is due is automatically suspended until the assessment and any late payment fee is paid – discretion removed.
Division 16: Books, Records and Accounts
- The time to complete trust reconciliations has been changed to 30 days from 15 days.
- The Law Society of Yukon must be notified when a member opens a trust account as soon as practicable.
- Members who fail to complete the required year end fiscal reporting will be automatically suspended until the forms are filed with the Law Society.
The above changes do not capture all the changes but highlight those the Executive feels are a departure from the existing rules or may be of particular interest to members.