The LSBC Tribunal is an independent adjudicative body within the Law Society of British Columbia, which makes decisions based on testimony and documents in a similar way to courts or other administrative tribunals. The LSBC Tribunal is guided by its core values of fairness, quality, transparency and timeliness. Its powers come from the Legal Profession Act. Its rules of practice and procedure and practice directions are made by the Tribunal Chair under the general guidance of the Law Society’s benchers.
LSBC Tribunal cases relate to the conduct or character of a lawyer or lawyer applicant.
Lawyer conduct is the most common subject of a LSBC Tribunal hearing. A conduct hearing determines whether a lawyer has violated the ethical or practice rules that govern the profession. A conduct hearing could determine, for example, whether the lawyer has mismanaged trust funds, failed to properly serve clients, or failed to cooperate with a Law Society investigation or audit, among other forms of misconduct.
The LSBC Tribunal also occasionally hears capacity and competency cases, in which the panel determines whether the lawyer is or was physically or otherwise incapable of practising law or is competent to practice in a specific area of law.
Registration or licensing hearings are scheduled when the Law Society has concerns about an applicant's good character or fitness to practice law. A licensing hearing could determine, for example, whether a former lawyer with a discipline history should be permitted to practise law again and, if so, whether any conditions or restrictions on their practice are needed.
An interim suspension or interim conditions on practice hearing precedes some conduct hearings. The interim suspension or interim conditions are imposed by the Law Society's benchers but may be varied by the LSBC Tribunal. Interim proceedings take place when it has been alleged that there is a significant risk to the public in allowing the lawyer to continue to practice until their full case can be heard that can be reduced by imposing an interim suspension or practice restrictions.
In addition to a Hearing Division, the LSBC Tribunal has a Review Division that hears reviews of decisions that either the lawyer/ lawyer applicant or the Law Society believes were decided incorrectly by the Hearing Division.
For more detailed information about the types of cases the LSBC Tribunal hears and decides, see the LSBC Tribunal's Annual Report.
LSBC Tribunal adjudicators make up the hearing panels and review boards that hear and decide LSBC Tribunal cases, just like judges in the courts. Adjudicators may be “benchers” (lawyers elected regionally by the legal profession and non-lawyer members of the public appointed by the government to govern the Law Society), or appointees (qualified lawyers and non-lawyer members of the public recommended by a selection committee and appointed by the benchers). Adjudicators are lawyers or esteemed members of the public with diverse backgrounds.
Each panel or board is chosen by the Tribunal Chair, with an eye to representation and fairness. Hearing Panels are comprised of three adjudicators (usually a bencher, a lawyer and a member of the public).
Review panels, called Review Boards, are comprised of five adjudicators (usually 2 benchers, 2 lawyers and a member of the public). When there are multiple adjudicators on a panel, one of the adjudicators is assigned to lead the panel as chair.
LSBC Tribunal Offices are located on the 9th Floor at 845 Cambie Street, Vancouver, British Columbia. In-person hearings are held at this location.
A pre-hearing conference (PHC) is conducted by a single motions adjudicator and is used to manage a case so it moves toward a hearing in a fair and timely manner. A PHC can result in a motions adjudicator making pre-hearing orders such as setting timelines for the delivery of an agreed statement of facts, a request to admit, an expert report or disclosure, or about the exchange of witness lists and summaries of their anticipated evidence. A PHC can also result in the scheduling a further PHC or the scheduling or adjourning of a hearing on the merits. PHCs are open to the public.
Additional information about PHCs can be found in the LSBC Tribunal's Directions on Practice and Procedure.
The purpose of a comprehensive pre-hearing conference (CPC) is to facilitate the just and most expeditious disposition of a proceeding. A CPC is held in most complex cases. The CPC is held before a motions adjudicator who may canvass the possibility of agreement on some or all of the issues and whether an agreed statement of facts can be prepared. The motions adjudicator may give the parties feedback on their positions. The motions adjudicator will often set the hearing date or dates.
At a CPC, the parties can:
(a) identify, limit or simplify the issues in the proceeding;
(b) identify and limit evidence and witnesses;
(c) settle any or all of the issues in the proceeding; and
(d) enter into an agreed statement of facts with respect to all or part of the facts at issue in the proceeding.
All discussions at the CPC are confidential and not open to the public. The motions adjudicator who conducts the CPC will not be on the hearing panel unless the parties agree that they will allow it.
Decisions that are made during the CPC will be included in an order or direction that the motions adjudicator will prepare after the CPC. Orders are public documents, so the endorsement will not contain any confidential information.
Before the CPC, each party will prepare a memorandum that sets out their position. This will be sent to the other party and to the motions adjudicator conducting the CPC. These memoranda are not public documents, and will not be kept in the LSBC Tribunal’s file.
All parties to the proceeding, and/or their representatives, are required to participate in scheduled CPCs.
Additional information about CPCs can be found in the Directions on Practice and Procedure.
LSBC Tribunal decisions since 2003 can be found on the Canadian Legal Information Institute’s (CanLII) website. To search LSBC Tribunal decisions on the CanLII website, click here. CanLII is a non-profit organization managed by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada whose goal is to make Canadian law accessible for free to the public.
LSBC Tribunal decisions since January 2022 may also be found in our Hearing Files and Decision section. For regulatory decisions issued prior to 2003, please contact the Tribunal Office.
For information about the complaints process, click here.