The Law Society is implementing a late fee policy and reducing the default period for annual fee payments and annual report filings.
Lawyers and paralegals who fail to pay their annual fee or fail to file their annual report on time will now be subject to a late fee of $100, as well as potential administrative suspension.
In addition, the default period during which lawyers and paralegals may pay their annual fee or file their annual report without penalty has been reduced to 90 days from 120 days. The new policies are effective for 2013 fees and filings. In 2014, the default period will be further reduced to 60 days.
Q&A - New policies re: annual fee payment and annual report filing
What are the new policies?
The Law Society is implementing a $100 late fee to be charged to lawyers and paralegals who fail to pay their annual fee or file their annual report on time, effective for 2013 fees and filings.
The Law Society has also reduced the default period for both annual fee payment and annual report filing to 90 days from 120 days. In 2013, lawyers and paralegals will have 90 days from January 1 to pay their annual fee and 90 days from March 31 to file their annual report.
The default period will be further reduced to 60 days, beginning in 2014.
Why is the Law Society introducing these new policies?
The Law Society adopted the new policies to save administrative costs by reducing the number of late payments and filings. See the Audit and Finance Committee Reports to September Convocation and October Convocation for more information.
When do the new policies come into effect?
The new policies are effective for 2013 fees and filings.
The reduction in the default period will be phased in over two years. The default period will be 90 days for annual fee payment and annual report filing, in 2013. Beginning in 2014, the default period will be 60 days.
When do I have to pay my 2013 annual fee to avoid the late fee?
You must submit full payment by 5:00 pm, April 1, 2013.
When do I have to file my 2012 annual report to avoid the late fee?
You must file by July 2, 2013.
Why did the Law Society decide on a two-year transition for the reduction in the default period?
In September 2012, Convocation reduced the default period from 120 days to 60 days and approved the implementation of late fees, beginning in 2013. Further assessment following that decision identified that a phased implementation of the change from 120 days to 60 days would be less onerous for lawyers and paralegals. In recognition, Convocation approved a two-year transition phase at its October meeting. The default period for the payment of annual fees and filing of annual reports will be 90 days in 2013 and 60 days for subsequent years.
If I'm charged the late fee, am I still subject to administrative suspension?
Yes. All lawyers and paralegals who fail to pay their annual fee or file their annual report by the end of the default period will be charged the $100 late fee and be referred for administrative suspension.
You will be required to pay the late fee as well as fulfill the other requirements during the suspension process, if you are to avoid suspension.
If you are suspended, you will be responsible for fulfilling all requirements including paying the late fee and the reinstatement fee, if applicable, in order to have your licence reinstated.
Will I be subject to administrative suspension if I don't pay a late fee?
Yes. You will be subject to administrative suspension for failure to pay a late fee.
How did the Law Society decide on the amount of $100 for the fee?
To determine the amount of the late fee, the Law Society examined administrative costs associated with late payments and filings as well as comparable fees imposed by other regulators.
Do other Law Societies have similar policies?
Yes. The Law Society of British Columbia charges a fee of $100 for late annual fee payment. The fee is due on November 30. Lawyers who do not pay their annual fee by December 31 are charged the late fee.
Why was the default period reduced from 120 days?
The default period was reduced to better align the Law Society's policies with normal business practices.