Community Certified Lawyer Referral Program

 

Registering a complaint against a lawyer

The Community Certified Lawyer Referral Service maintains a file on complaints about lawyers who have been found to have acted against the best interests of children and their families.  Currently this service is only available in the Province of Ontario, but will be expanded to other provinces as resources become available.

Those who feel that a particular lawyer has acted against the best interest of children or other family members may submit a complaint about the lawyer to the Family Justice Review Committee.  The complaint will not be accepted for review unless it has also been made to the Law Society of the province in which the lawyer carries on practice.

After a complaint has been received by the committee, it will be reviewed and if it meets the criteria of the committee for acceptance, an investigation will be commenced.  The lawyer involved will be contacted in reference to the complaint and asked to provide information relative to the complaint from the lawyer's perspective.  

Some of the complaints that the committee would consider valid:

  • Refusal of a lawyer to grant an adjournment in a matter where reasonable reason was given by the other side.

  • Short serving documents on a party with the main purpose of getting a procedural advantage while denying the other person reasonable opportunity to respond.  Where documents are short served then the lawyer must be able to provide reasons for his or her actions.  For example if short servicing of documents was needed to help ensure protection for a child then this would be considered acceptable.  Short service in response to another lawyer's short service would also be considered acceptable.

  • Failure to return telephone calls from clients and the opposing party or their solicitor

  • Acting in any way that the Justice Committee would consider not to be in the best interests of children involved in a disputed matter.

  • Attempting to impede the release of information considered important in assessing the best interest of a child.  This would include all reports from Child Protection Agencies, police and medical reports.  Assuring the best interests of a child will always take precedent over the interests of any client.

  • Assisting a client to obtain one sided or biased reports from professionals without giving the other parent the opportunity to participate and speak to the professional.

  • Unwarranted use of legal aid other taxpayer-funded organizations.

  • Abuse of the Office of the Children's Lawyer office. For example, arguing in court to have the Office of the Children's lawyer appointed at taxpayer's expense when parties have the financial means to pay for such services, or on the other hand to attempt to have the court order the O.C.L. when one or both of the parties are offering to pay for such services from the private sector.

  • Failure to cooperate in arranging access between children and one of the parents when there would appear no reason for the children to be denied contact with the other parent.

  • Failure of a lawyer to give a client his/her file when requested.  The client's file is considered the property of the client, not the lawyer.  The fact that a client owes a lawyer money for services rendered will not be used to prevent a client from having full access to their file.

When a complaint is made to the committee, a two member team will attempt to resolve the complaint and make recommendations based on the evidence and the circumstances.  The purpose of the investigation will be to correct any injustice that may have occurred, and where it has been found that a lawyer has acted inappropriately, then to help ensure that the lawyer involved takes corrective measures to ensure that this type of problem does not occur again.

If the complaints sub committee is unable to resolve the problem to the satisfaction of both the lawyer and the person who issued the complaint, then the matter will be heard before the full justice review committee for a formal review. The complaint may be heard by up to 12 members of the committee in an open meeting.

A full report of how the subcommittee dealt with the complaint will be submitted to the committee for further discussion and a vote by members. The person making the complaint will be required to be present to answer any questions put forth by members of the committee concerning the complaint.  The lawyer will also be invited to attend to ask questions and to give information in his or her behalf.

Should lawyers have further questions refer to the section "questions and answers for lawyers"  Link here

To submit a complaint contact the Family Justice Review Committee by email or phone us at (416) 410-4115