New Code of Ethics in BC
On January 1, 2013, the Law Society of British Columbia brought into force a new code of ethics to govern the actions of lawyers in the province. The new code, officially known as the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia (“BC Code”) replaces the existing Professional Conduct Handbook that was in effect in British Columbia from 1993 until 2013.
The BC Code is modeled after the Federation of Law Societies Model Code of Professional Conduct (Model Code), however, it does include some elements unique to British Columbia. It is important to note that the BC Code contains over 40 sections that were not in the Professional Conduct Handbook and as such introduces a variety of new concepts to ethical and professional responsibility that BC lawyers should be aware of. Some of these include:
Section 2.2-2 of the BC Code introduces a duty on lawyers to uphold the standards and reputation of the legal profession and to assist in the advancement of its goals, organizations and institutions. While this duty has always existed in some form through the Canons of Ethics, it is included in the BC Code in very straightforward terms, and specifically references legal aid, community legal services and pro bono work.
Sections 3.4-27 and 3.4-27.1 pertain to the provision of independent legal advice to clients. The sections provide detail regarding the need for managing conflicts in the provision of independent legal advice and sets out a few specific duties including that a lawyer must advise the client that the client has the right to independent legal representation; explain the legal aspects of the matter to the clients, who appears to understand the advice given; and inform the client of the availability of qualified advisors in other fields who would be in a position to advise the client on the matter from a business point of view.
Sections 6.2-1 through Section 6.2-3 introduce obligations on lawyers practicing in British Columbia in regards to the recruitment and engagement of students. These include a duty to observe any procedures set down by the Law Society in regards to recruitment and also the duty of a lawyer of a principal to provide the student with meaningful training and exposure to the practical aspects of law as well as the traditions and ethics of the profession. Be sure to review the BC Code of Ethics to ensure you are following the codes of conduct and are not open to potential claims.
For more information, please see New Code of Ethics In British Columbia Introduces New Concepts by Michael Litchfield, SLAW Canada's Online Legal Magazine (January 23, 2013).
David Mills, HUB International PROFESSIONAL
HUB International PROFESSIONAL LAWYERS’ specialists are based in Vancouver and are focused on delivering the best coverage, best value and best service, with winning solutions for small, medium and large firms.