Only lawyers and paralegals licensed by the Law Society can provide legal services directly to the public.
Illegal practitioners are people who practise law or provide legal services directly to the public without a licence. If you hire an illegal practitioner, you are not protected.
The Law Society Act gives the Law Society authority to prosecute illegal practitioners. When we are made aware of an individual who may be practising illegally we may do one or more of the following:
- Send a cease and desist letter demanding that the person stop providing legal services they are not licensed to provide. This is often successful.
- Conduct an investigation, especially if the person accused of illegal practice is persistent or is placing the public directly at risk.
- Ask the person to sign an undertaking (agreement) to cease the unauthorized activity. This is a document that may be used later in court if the behaviour persists.
- Initiate court proceedings. The Law Society has the power to seek injunctions in Superior Court. If the injunction is breached, this may result in an application to have the person found in contempt. Contempt can be punishable by fines or imprisonment or both. The Law Society can also prosecute illegal practice in provincial court or provincial offences court. The Law Society Act provides for significant fines as well as probation orders if someone is convicted of unauthorized practice.
Some of the Law Society's past matters are:
Law Society of Upper Canada v. James William Sinclair
Law Society of Upper Canada v. Thinh Bui
Law Society of Upper Canada v. Niki Marques
Law Society of Upper Canada v. Abdul Gabbar Khan a.k.a. Abdul Khan, and Westminster Legal Firm Inc.