A Lawyer v. The Law Society of British Columbia, 2021 BCCA 437
Ken McEwan, K.C., Emily Kirkpatrick, and Saheli Sodhi, on behalf of the respondent Law Society of British Columbia, successfully argued that the Law Society’s authority to investigate a lawyer’s books, records and accounts on reasonable belief extends to a lawyer’s entire practice and does not violate section 8 of the Charter.
This case arose from the issuance of an order for the investigation of a lawyer’s practice under Rule 4-55 of the Law Society Rules. The lawyer brought a petition in the Supreme Court of British Columbia for judicial review of the order, raising both administrative and constitutional arguments. The petition judge, in reasons for judgment characterized by the Court of Appeal as “thorough, thoughtful, and comprehensive,” dismissed all arguments of the petitioner and emphasized the public interest mandate of the Law Society and the nature of its investigatory functions.
On appeal, the lawyer advanced the same arguments that were before the petition judge. The lawyer’s appeal centered on his assertion that Rule 4-55 inadequately protected solicitor-client privilege and violated the client’s section 8 Charter rights. The Court of Appeal concluded that the Law Society’s legislative scheme adequately protects and maintains solicitor-client privilege. The Court of Appeal found no error in the petition judge’s decision and upheld it in full. The reasons of the Court of Appeal can be found here, and the reasons of the petition judge can be found here.