Rule 3: Duty to Clients

Rule 3 Duty to Clients

3.01 COMPETENCE

Required Standard

3.01 (1) A paralegal shall perform any services undertaken on a client's behalf to the standard of a competent paralegal.

(2) A paralegal is required to recognize a task for which the paralegal lacks competence and the disservice that would be done to the client by undertaking that task. A paralegal shall not undertake a matter without being competent to handle it or being able to become competent without undue delay or expense to the client.

(3) If a paralegal discovers that he or she lacks the competence to complete the task for which he or she has been retained, the paralegal shall:

(a) decline to act;

(b) obtain the client's consent to retain, consult or collaborate with another licensee who is competent and licensed to perform that task; or

(c) obtain the client's consent for the paralegal to become competent without undue delay, risk or expense to the client.

Who is Competent

(4) For the purposes of this rule, a competent paralegal is one who has and applies the relevant knowledge, skills, and attributes appropriate to each matter undertaken on behalf of a client including,

(a) knowing general legal principles and procedures and the substantive law and procedures for the legal services that the paralegal provides;

(b) investigating facts, identifying issues, ascertaining client objectives, considering possible options, and developing and advising clients on appropriate courses of action;

(c) implementing, as each matter requires, the chosen course of action through the application of appropriate skills, including,

(i) legal research,

(ii) analysis,

(iii) application of the law to the relevant facts,

(iv) writing and drafting,

(v) negotiation,

(vi) alternative dispute resolution,

(vii) advocacy, and

(viii) problem-solving;

(d) representing the client in a conscientious, diligent, and cost-effective manner;

(e) communicating with the client at all relevant stages of a matter in a timely and effective manner;

(f) answering reasonable client requests in a timely and effective manner;

(g) ensuring that all applicable deadlines are met;

(h) managing one's practice effectively;

(i) applying intellectual capacity, judgment, and deliberation to all functions;

(j) pursuing appropriate training and development to maintain and enhance knowledge and skills;

(k) adapting to changing requirements, standards, techniques and practices; and

(l) complying in letter and in spirit with all requirements pursuant to the Law Society Act.

[Amended - October 2014]

3.02 ADVISING CLIENTS

Quality of Service

3.02 (1) A paralegal has a duty to provide courteous, thorough and prompt service to clients. The quality of service required of a paralegal is service that is competent, timely, conscientious, diligent, efficient and civil.

(2) A paralegal shall be honest and candid when advising clients.

(3) A paralegal shall not undertake or provide advice with respect to a matter that is outside his or her permissible scope of practice.

[Amended - October 2014]

Dishonesty, Fraud, etc. by Client or Others

(4) A paralegal shall not knowingly assist in or encourage any dishonesty, fraud, crime, or illegal conduct or advise a client or any other person on how to violate the law and avoid punishment.

(5) When retained by a client, a paralegal shall make reasonable efforts to ascertain the purpose and objectives of the retainer and to obtain information about the client necessary to fulfill this obligation.

(6) A paralegal shall not use his or her trust account for purposes not related to the provision of legal services.

[Amended - October 2014]

(7) A paralegal shall not act or do anything or omit to do anything in circumstances where he or she ought to know that, by acting, doing the thing or omitting to do the thing, he or she is being used by a client, by a person associated with a client or by any other person to facilitate dishonesty, fraud, crime or illegal conduct.

[New - May 2012]

(8) A paralegal who is employed or retained by an organization to act in a matter in which the paralegal knows that the organization has acted, is acting or intends to act dishonestly, fraudulently, criminally, or illegally shall do the following, in addition to their obligations under subrule (4):

(a) advise the person from whom the paralegal takes instructions and the chief legal officer, or both the chief legal officer and the chief executive officer, that the conduct is, was or would be dishonest, fraudulent, criminal, or illegal and should be stopped;

(b) if necessary because the person from whom the paralegal takes instructions, the chief legal officer, or the chief executive officer refuses to cause the conduct to be stopped, advise progressively the next highest persons or groups, including ultimately, the board of directors, the board of trustees, or the appropriate committee of the board, that the conduct was, is or would be dishonest, fraudulent, criminal, or illegal and should be stopped, and

(c) if the organization, despite the paralegal's advice, continues with or intends to pursue the wrongful conduct, withdraw from acting in the matter in accordance with rule 3.08.

[Amended - October 2014]

Threatening Penal or Regulatory Proceedings

(9) A paralegal shall not, in an attempt to gain a benefit for a client, threaten, or advise a client to threaten without reasonable and lawful justification:

(a) to initiate or proceed with a charge for an offence, including an offence under

(i) the Criminal Code or any other statute of Canada;

(ii) a statute of a province or territory of Canada; or

(iii) a municipal by-law; or         

(b) to make a complaint to a regulatory authority.

[Amended - February 2017]

(10) Revoked

[Amended - February 2017]

Settlement and Dispute Resolution

(11) A paralegal shall advise and encourage a client to compromise or settle a dispute whenever it is possible to do so on a reasonable basis, and shall discourage the client from commencing or continuing useless legal proceedings.

(12) The paralegal shall consider the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) when appropriate, inform the client of ADR options, and, if so instructed, take steps to pursue those options.

Client with Diminished Capacity

(13) If a client's ability to make decisions is impaired because of minority, mental disability or for some other reason, the paralegal shall, as far as reasonably possible, maintain a normal professional relationship with that client.

(14) If the disability of the client is such that the client no longer has the legal capacity to manage his or her legal affairs, the paralegal shall take such steps as are appropriate to have a lawfully authorized representative appointed.

Providing Legal Services Under a Limited Scope Retainer

(15) Before providing legal services under a limited scope retainer, a paralegal shall advise the client honestly and candidly about the nature, extent and scope of the services that the paralegal can provide and, where appropriate, whether the services can be provided within the financial means of the client.

[Amended - October 2014]

(16) When providing legal services under a limited scope retainer, a paralegal shall confirm the services in writing and give the client a copy of the written document when practicable to do so.

[New - September 2011]

(17) Subrule (16) does not apply to a paralegal if the legal services are

(a) legal services provided by a licensed paralegal in the course of his or her employment as an employee of Legal Aid Ontario;

(b) summary advice provided in community legal clinics, student clinics or under the Legal Aid Services Act, 1998;

(c) summary advice provided through a telephone-based service or telephone hotline operated by a community-based or government funded program;

(d) summary advice provided by the paralegal to a client in the context of an introductory consultation, where the intention is that the consultation, if the client so chooses, would develop into a retainer for legal services for all aspects of the legal matter; or

(e) pro bono summary legal services provided in a non-profit or court-annexed program.

[New - September 2011]

Medical-Legal Reports

(18) A paralegal who receives a medical-legal report from a physician or health professional that is accompanied by a proviso that it not be shown to the client, shall return the report immediately to the physician or health professional, without making a copy, unless the paralegal has received specific instructions to accept the report on that basis.

(19) A paralegal who receives a medical-legal report from a physician or health professional containing opinions or findings that, if disclosed, might cause harm or injury to the client, shall attempt to dissuade the client from seeing the report but, if the client insists, the paralegal shall produce the report.

(20) If a client insists on seeing a medical-legal report about which the paralegal has reservations for the reasons noted in subrule (19), the paralegal shall recommend that the client attend at the office of the physician or health professional to see the report, in order that the client will have the benefit of the expertise of the physician or health professional in understanding the significance of the conclusions contained in the medical-legal report.

Errors

(21) If, in connection with a matter for which a paralegal is responsible, the paralegal discovers an error or omission that is or may be damaging to the client and that cannot be rectified readily, the paralegal shall,

(a) promptly inform the client of the error or omission, being careful not to prejudice any rights of indemnity that either of them may have under an insurance, client's protection or indemnity plan, or otherwise;

(b) recommend that the client obtain legal advice elsewhere concerning any rights the client may have arising from the error or omission; and

(c) advise the client that in the circumstances, the paralegal may no longer be able to act for the client.

Official Language Rights

(22) A paralegal shall, when appropriate, advise a client of the client's language rights, including the right to proceed in the official language of the client's choice.

[Amended - June 25, 2015]

(23) When a client wishes to retain a paralegal for representation in the official language of the client's choice, the paralegal shall not undertake the matter unless the paralegal is competent to provide the required services in that language.

[New - June 25, 2015]

3.03 CONFIDENTIALITY

Confidential Information

3.03 (1) A paralegal shall, at all times, hold in strict confidence all information concerning the business and affairs of a client acquired in the course of their professional relationship and shall not disclose any such information unless:

(a) expressly or impliedly authorized by the client;

(b) required by law or by order of a tribunal of competent jurisdiction to do so;

(c) required to provide the information to the Law Society; or

(d) otherwise permitted by this rule.

(2) The duty of confidentiality under subrule (1) continues indefinitely after the paralegal has ceased to act for the client, whether or not differences have arisen between them.

(3) The paralegal shall keep the client's papers and other property out of sight, as well as out of reach, of those not entitled to see them.

Justified or Permitted Disclosure

(4) A paralegal shall disclose confidential information when required by law or by order of a tribunal of competent jurisdiction.

(5) A paralegal may disclose confidential information when the paralegal believes on reasonable grounds that there is an imminent risk of death or serious bodily harm, and disclosure is necessary to prevent the death or harm.

(6) In order to defend against the allegations, a paralegal may disclose confidential information if it is alleged that the paralegal or his or her employees,

(a) have committed a criminal offence involving a client's affairs;

(b) are civilly liable with respect to a matter involving a client's affairs; 

(c) have committed acts of professional negligence; or

(d) have engaged in acts of professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming a paralegal.

(7) A paralegal may disclose confidential information in order to establish or collect his or her fees.

(8) A paralegal may disclose confidential information to a lawyer or another paralegal to secure legal advice about the paralegal's proposed conduct.

(9) A paralegal shall not disclose more information than is necessary when he or she discloses confidential information as required or permitted by subrules (4), (5), (6) and (7).

[Amended - October 2014]

Justified or Permitted Disclosure

(10) A paralegal may disclose confidential information to the extent reasonably necessary to detect and resolve conflicts of interest arising from:

(a) the paralegal's change of employment; or

(b) changes in the composition or ownership of a paralegal firm

but only if the information disclosed does not compromise client confidentiality or otherwise prejudice the client.

[New - September 2015]

3.04 CONFLICTS OF INTEREST - GENERAL

Avoidance of Conflicts of Interest

3.04  (1) A paralegal shall not act or continue to act for a client where there is a conflict of interest, except as permitted under this rule.

(2) A paralegal shall not advise or represent opposing parties in a dispute.

(3) A paralegal shall not represent a client in a matter when there is a conflict of interest unless

(a) there is consent which must be fully informed and voluntary after disclosure from all affected clients; and

(b) the paralegal reasonably believes that he or she is able to represent each client without having a material adverse effect upon the representation of or loyalty to the other client.

[Amended - April 2017]

Acting Against Former Clients

(4) Unless the former client consents, a paralegal shall not act against a former client in,

(a) the same matter;

(b) any related matter; or

(c) except as provided by subrule (5), in any new matter, if the paralegal has relevant confidential information arising from the representation of the former client that may prejudice that client.

(5) If a paralegal has acted for a client and obtained confidential information relevant to a matter, the paralegal's partner or employee may act in a subsequent matter against that client, provided that:

(a) the former client consents to the paralegal's partner or employee acting; or

(b) the paralegal's firm establishes that it has taken adequate measures on a timely basis to ensure that there will be no risk of disclosure of the former client's confidential information to the other licensee having carriage of the new matter.

Joint Retainers

(6) Before agreeing to act for more than one client in a matter or transaction, a paralegal shall advise the clients that,

(a) the paralegal has been asked to act for both or all of them;

(b) no information received in connection with the matter from one client can be treated as confidential so far as any of the others are concerned; and

(c) if a conflict develops that cannot be resolved, the paralegal cannot continue to act for both or all of them and may have to withdraw completely.

(7) If a paralegal has a continuing relationship with a client for whom he or she acts regularly, before agreeing to act for that client and another client in a matter or transaction, the paralegal shall advise the other client of the continuing relationship and recommend that the client obtain independent legal advice about the joint retainer.

(8) If a paralegal has advised the clients, as provided under subrules (6) and (7), and the parties are content that the paralegal act for both or all of them, the paralegal shall obtain their consent.

(9) Consent to a joint retainer must be obtained from each client in writing, or recorded through a separate written communication to each client.

(10) Although all parties concerned may consent, a paralegal shall avoid acting for more than one client if it is likely that an issue contentious between them will arise or their interests, rights, or obligations will diverge as the matter progresses.

(11) Except as provided by subrule (12) if a contentious issue arises between two clients who have consented to a joint retainer, the paralegal must not advise either of them on the contentious issue and the following rules apply:

(a) The paralegal shall

(i) refer the clients to other licensees for that purpose; or

(ii) no legal advice is required and the clients are sophisticated, advise them of their option to settle the contentious issue by direct negotiation in which the paralegal does not participate.

(b) If the contentious issue is not resolved, the paralegal shall withdraw from the joint representation.

(12) If a paralegal's clients consent to a joint retainer and also agree that if a contentious issue arises the paralegal may continue to advise one of them and a contentious issue does arise, the paralegal may advise the one client about the contentious matter and shall refer the other or others to another licensee for that purpose.

Multi-Discipline Practices

(13) A paralegal in a multi-discipline practice shall ensure that non-licensee partners and associates observe this rule for the provision of legal services and for any other business or professional undertaking carried on by them outside the professional business.

Affiliations

(14) Where there is an affiliation, before accepting a retainer to provide legal services to a client jointly with non-legal services of an affiliated entity, a paralegal shall disclose to the client

(a) any possible loss of confidentiality because of the involvement of the affiliated entity, including circumstances where a non-licensee or staff of the affiliated entity provide services, including support services, in the paralegal's office;

(b) the paralegal's role in providing legal services and in providing non-legal services or in providing both legal and non-legal services, as the case may be;

(c) any financial, economic or other arrangements between the paralegal and the affiliated entity that may affect the independence of the paralegal's representation of the client, including whether the paralegal shares in the revenues, profits or cash flows of the affiliated entity; and

(d) agreements between the paralegal and the affiliated entity, such as agreements with respect to referral of clients between the paralegal and the affiliated entity, that may affect the independence of the paralegal's representation of the client.

(15) Where there is an affiliation, after making the disclosure as required by subrule (14), a paralegal shall obtain the client's consent before accepting a retainer under that subrule.

(16) Where there is an affiliation, a paralegal shall establish a system to search for conflicts of interest of the affiliation.

[Amended - October 2014]

(17) In this rule,

"paralegal’s firm" means the paralegal firm at which the pro bono paralegal provides legal services as a partner, associate, employee, or otherwise;

"pro bono provider" means a pro bono or not-for-profit legal service provider that makes pro bono paralegals available to provide advice or representation to clients;

"pro bono paralegal" means (i) a volunteer paralegal who provides short-term pro bono services to clients under the auspices of a pro bono provider; or (ii) a paralegal providing services under the auspices of a Pro Bono Ontario program;

"short-term pro bono services" means pro bono legal services or representation to a client under the auspices of a pro bono provider with the expectation by the pro bono paralegal and the client that the pro bono paralegal will not provide continuing legal services or representation in the matter.

(18) A pro bono paralegal may provide short-term pro bono services without taking steps to determine whether there is a conflict of interest arising from duties owed to current or former clients of the paralegal’s firm or of the pro bono provider;

(19) A pro bono paralegal shall take reasonable measures to ensure that no disclosure of the client’s confidential information is made to another paralegal in the paralegal’s firm;

(20) A pro bono paralegal shall not provide or shall cease providing short-term pro bono services to a client where the pro bono paralegal knows or becomes aware of a conflict of interest;

(21) A pro bono paralegal who is unable to provide short-term pro bono services to a client because there is a conflict of interest shall cease to provide such services as soon as the paralegal becomes aware of the conflict of interest and the paralegal shall not seek the pro bono client’s waiver of the conflict.

[New - September 2016, Amended - April 2017]

3.05 CONFLICTS OF INTEREST - TRANSFERS

Conflicts from Transfer between Firms

Interpretation and Application of Rule

3.05 (0.1) In Rule 3.05

"matter" means a case, a transaction, or other client representation, but within such representation does not include offering general "know-how" and, in the case of government paralegal, providing policy advice unless the advice relates to a particular client representation.

[New - September 2015]

(1) Rules 3.05 (2) to 3.05 (7) apply when a paralegal transfers from one paralegal firm ("former firm") to another ("new firm"), and

(a) the transferring paralegal or the new firm is aware of the time of the transfer or later discovers it is reasonable to believe the transferring paralegal has confidential information relevant to the new firm's matter for its client; or

(b) the transferring paralegal or the new firm is aware at the time of the transfer or later discovers that

(i) the new firm represents a client in a matter that is the same as or related to a matter in which the former firm represents its client ("former client");

(ii) the interests of those clients in that matter conflict; and

(iii) the transferring paralegal actually possesses relevant information respecting that matter.

[Amended - September 2015]

(1.1) Rules 3.05 (2) to 3.05 (7) do not apply to a paralegal employed by the federal, a provincial or territorial government who, after transferring from one department, ministry or agency to another, continues to be employed by that government.

[New - September 2015]

Paralegal Firm Disqualification

(2) If the transferring paralegal actually possesses confidential information relevant to a matter respecting the former client that may prejudice the former client if disclosed to a member of the new firm, the new firm shall cease its representation of its client in that matter unless

a. the former client consents to the new firm's continued representation of its client; or

b. the new firm has

(i) taken reasonable measures to ensure that there will be no disclosure of the former client's confidential information by the transferring paralegal to any member of the new firm; and

(ii) advised the paralegal's former client, if requested by the client, of the measures taken.

Transferring Paralegal Disqualification

(3) Unless the former client consents, a transferring paralegal referred in subrules (2) or (4) shall not,

(a) participate in any manner in the new paralegal firm's representation of its current client in the matter; or

(b) disclose any confidential information respecting the former client except as permitted by Rule 3.03.

(4) Unless the former client consents, members of the new firm shall not discuss the new firm's representation of its current client or the former firm's representation of the former client in that matter with a transferring paralegal described in subrules (2) or (4) except as permitted by Rule 3.03.

(5) Anyone who has an interest in, or who represents a party in, a matter referred to in this rule may apply to a tribunal of competent jurisdiction for a determination of any aspect of this rule.

Paralegal Due Diligence for non-licensee staff

(6) A transferring paralegal and the members of the new firm shall exercise due diligence in ensuring that each member and employee of the paralegal's firm, and all other persons whose services the paralegal or the firm has retained

(a) comply with Rule 3.03; and

(b) do not disclose confidential information of

(i) clients of the firm; or

(ii) any other paralegal firm in which the person has worked.

[Amended - September 2015]

3.06 TRANSACTIONS WITH CLIENTS

3.06 For the purposes of subrules 3.06 (1) to (7),

“regulated lender” means a bank, trust company, insurance company, credit union or  finance company that lends money in the ordinary course of business;

“related person” in relation to a paralegal means

(a) a spouse, child, grandparent, parent, or sibling of the paralegal, 

(b) a corporation that is owned or controlled directly or indirectly by the paralegal or that is owned or controlled directly or indirectly by the paralegal’s spouse, child, grandparent, parent, or sibling,

(c) an associate or partner of the paralegal.

“transaction with a client” means a transaction to which a paralegal and a client of the paralegal are parties, whether or not other persons are also parties, including lending or borrowing money, buying or selling property or services having other than nominal value, giving or acquiring ownership, security or other pecuniary interest in a company or other entity, recommending an investment, or entering into a common business venture.

(1) A paralegal shall not enter into a transaction with a client unless the transaction is fair and reasonable to the client.  

(2) Except for borrowing from a regulated lender or from a related person, a paralegal shall not borrow from a client.

(3) A paralegal shall not do indirectly what the paralegal is prohibited from doing directly under subrules (1) to (7).

(4) In any transaction with a client that is permitted under subrules (1) to (7), the paralegal shall, 

a. disclose the nature of any conflicting interest or how and why it might develop later; 

b. with respect to independent legal advice and independent legal representation:

i. in the case of a loan to a client who is not a related person, the paralegal shall require that the client receive independent legal representation; 

ii. in the case of a loan to a client who is a related person, the paralegal shall require that the client receive independent legal advice;

iii. in the case of a corporation, syndicate or partnership borrowing money from a client of the paralegal where either or both the paralegal and the paralegal’s spouse has a direct or indirect substantial interest in the corporation, syndicate or partnership, the paralegal shall require that the client receive independent legal representation;

iv. in all other cases, the paralegal shall recommend that the client receive independent legal advice and, where the circumstances reasonably require, recommend or require that the client receive independent legal representation; and 

c. obtain the client’s consent to the transaction

(i) after the client receives the disclosure, legal advice or representation required under subrule (4), or  

(ii) where a recommendation required under subrule (4) is made and not accepted, before proceeding with the transaction.

(5) Despite subrule (4), a paralegal need not recommend independent legal advice or independent legal representation if the paralegal is borrowing money from a client who is a regulated lender.

No Advertising

(6) A paralegal shall not promote, by advertising or otherwise, individual or joint investment by clients or other persons who have money to lend, in any mortgage in which a financial interest is held by the paralegal, a related person, or a corporation, syndicate, partnership, trust or other entity in which the paralegal or related person has a financial interest, other than an ownership interest of a corporation or other entity offering its securities to the public of less than five per cent (5%) of any class of securities.

Guarantees by a Paralegal

(7) Except as provided by subrule (8), a paralegal shall not guarantee personally, or otherwise provide security for, any indebtedness in respect of which a client is a borrower or lender.

(8) A paralegal may give a personal guarantee in the following circumstances:

a. the lender is a regulated lender, and the lender is directly or indirectly providing funds solely for the paralegal, the paralegal’s spouse, parent or child;

b. the transaction is for the benefit of a non-profit or charitable institution, and the paralegal provides a guarantee as a member or supporter of such institution, either individually or together with other members or supporters of the institution; or

c. the paralegal has entered into a business venture with a client and a lender requires personal guarantees from all participants in the venture as a matter of course and

i. the paralegal has complied with subrules (1)  to (7) and

ii. the lender and participants in the venture who are clients or former clients of the paralegal have independent legal representation.

Payment for Legal Services  

(9) When a client intends to pay for legal services by transferring to a paralegal a share, participation or other interest in property or in an enterprise, other than a non-material interest in a publicly traded enterprise, the paralegal shall recommend but need not require that the client receive independent legal advice before accepting a retainer.

Judicial Interim Release

(10) Subject to subrule (11), a paralegal shall not in respect of any accused person for whom the paralegal acts, 

a. act as a surety for the accused;

b. deposit with a court the paralegal’s own money or that of any firm in which the paralegal is a partner to secure the accused’s release;

c. deposit with any court other valuable security to secure the accused’s release; or

d. act in a supervisory capacity to the accused.

(11) A paralegal may do any of the things referred to in subrule (10) if the accused is in a family relationship with the paralegal and the accused is represented by the paralegal’s partner or associate. 

[Amended - May 2016]

3.07 CLIENT PROPERTY

Preservation of Client's Property

3.07 (1) A paralegal shall care for a client's property as a careful and prudent owner would when dealing with like property and shall observe all relevant rules and law about the preservation of property entrusted to a fiduciary.

Notification of Receipt of Property

(2) A paralegal shall promptly notify the client of the receipt of any money or other property of the client, unless satisfied that the client is aware they have come into the paralegal's custody.

Identification of Property

(3) A paralegal shall clearly label and identify the client's property and place it in safekeeping, distinguishable from the paralegal's own property.

(4) A paralegal shall maintain such records as necessary to identify a client's property that is in the paralegal's custody.

Accounting and delivery

(5) A paralegal shall account promptly for a client's property that is in the paralegal's custody and upon request, shall deliver it to the order of the client or, if appropriate, at the conclusion of the retainer.

(6) If a paralegal is unsure of the proper person to receive a client's property, the paralegal shall apply to a tribunal of competent jurisdiction for direction.

[Amended - October 2014]

3.08 WITHDRAWAL FROM REPRESENTATION

Withdrawal from Representation

3.08 (1) A paralegal shall not withdraw from representation of a client except for good cause and on reasonable notice to the client.

Optional Withdrawal

(2) Subject to subrules (7), (8) and (9) and the direction of the tribunal, a paralegal may withdraw if there has been a serious loss of confidence between the paralegal and the client.

(3) Without limiting subrule (2), a paralegal may withdraw if the client deceives the paralegal or refuses to accept and act upon the paralegal's advice on a significant point.

(4) A paralegal shall not use the threat of withdrawal as a device to force a hasty decision by the client on a difficult question.

Mandatory Withdrawal

(5) Subject to subrules (7), (8) and (9) and the direction of the tribunal, a paralegal shall withdraw if,

(a) discharged by the client;

(b) the client's instructions require the paralegal to act contrary to the Rules, or by-laws; or

(c) the paralegal is not competent to continue to handle the matter.

Non-payment of Fees

(6) Subject to subrules (7), (8) and (9) and the direction of the tribunal, unless serious prejudice to the client would result, a paralegal may withdraw from a case if, after reasonable notice, the client fails to provide a retainer or funds on account of disbursements or fees.

Withdrawal from Quasi-Criminal and Criminal Cases

(7) A paralegal who has agreed to act in a quasi-criminal or criminal case may withdraw because the client has not paid the agreed fee or for other adequate cause if the interval between the withdrawal and the date set for the trial of the case is sufficient to enable the client to obtain alternate representation and to allow such other licensee adequate time for preparation and if the paralegal,

(a) advises the client, preferably in writing, that the paralegal is withdrawing and the reason for the withdrawal;

(b) accounts to the client for any monies received on account of fees and disbursements;

(c) notifies the prosecution in writing that the paralegal is no longer acting;

(d) in a case where the paralegal's name appears in the records of the court as acting for the accused, notifies the clerk or registrar of the appropriate court in writing that the paralegal is no longer acting; and

(e) complies with the applicable rules of the tribunal or court.

(8) A paralegal who has agreed to act in a quasi-criminal or criminal case may not withdraw because of non-payment of fees if the date set for the trial of the case is not far enough removed to enable the client to obtain the services of another licensee or to enable the other licensee to prepare adequately for trial and if an adjournment of the trial date cannot be obtained without adversely affecting the client's interests.

(9) If,

(a) a paralegal is justified in withdrawing from a quasi-criminal or criminal case for reasons other than non-payment of fees; and

(b) there is not a sufficient interval between a notice to the client of the paralegal's intention to withdraw and the date when the case is to be tried to enable the client to obtain the services of another licensee and to enable the new licensee to prepare adequately for trial,

the paralegal, unless instructed otherwise by the client, shall attempt to have the trial date adjourned and may withdraw from the case only with permission of the court before which the case is to be tried.

Manner of Withdrawal

(10) When a paralegal withdraws, he or she shall try to minimize expense and avoid prejudice to the client and shall do all that can reasonably be done to facilitate the orderly transfer of the matter to the successor licensee.

(11) Upon discharge or withdrawal, a paralegal shall,

(a) deliver to the client or to the order of the client, all papers and property to which the client is entitled, (subject to the paralegal's right to a lien);

(b) subject to any applicable trust conditions, give the client all information that may be required in connection with the case or matter;

(c) account for all funds of the client then held or previously dealt with, including the refunding of any monies not earned during the representation;

(d) promptly render an account for outstanding fees and disbursements; 

(e) cooperate with the successor licensee so as to minimize expense and avoid prejudice to the client; and

(f) comply with the applicable rules of court.

(12) In addition to the obligations set out in subrule (11), upon withdrawal, a paralegal shall notify the client in writing, stating:

(a) the fact that the paralegal has withdrawn;

(b) the reasons, if any, for the withdrawal; and

(c) in the case of litigation, that the client should expect that the hearing or trial will proceed on the date scheduled and that the client should retain a new legal practitioner promptly.

(13) If the paralegal who is discharged or withdraws is a member of a firm, the client shall be notified that the paralegal and the firm are no longer acting for the client.

Leaving a Firm

(13.1)(1) In this subrule

(a) "affected client" means a client for whom the firm has a relevant matter;

(b) "relevant matter" means a current matter for which the paralegal who is leaving the firm has conduct or substantial responsibility;

(c) "remaining paralegals" means the paralegals who have, or are intended by the firm to have, conduct of a relevant matter and the paralegals in the firm who have direct and indirect management responsibility in respect of the paralegal who is leaving the firm.

(2) When a paralegal leaves a firm to provide legal services elsewhere, the paralegal and the remaining paralegals shall:

(a) ensure that affected clients are given reasonable notice that the paralegal is departing and are advised of their options for retaining other representation; and

(b) take reasonable steps to obtain the instructions of each affected client as to whom they will retain to act in relevant matters.

(3) The obligations in Rules (13.1)(2)(a) and (b) also apply to the departure of a lawyer from a firm to practice elsewhere.

(13.2) Rule 3.08(13.1) does not apply to a paralegal leaving (a) a government, a Crown corporation or any other public body or (b) a corporation or other organization for which the paralegal is employed in-house.

[New - June 2017]

Duties of Successor Paralegal

(14) Before agreeing to represent a client of a predecessor licensee, a successor paralegal shall be satisfied that the predecessor has withdrawn or has been discharged by the client.

[Amended - October 2014]