On September 11, Convocation approved a motion to preserve and clarify the scope of criminal law representation by paralegals, lawyer licensing candidates and law students (agents regulated by the Law Society), in preparation for Bill C-75.
The legislation, which comes into force on September 19, increases the default maximum penalty for summary conviction offences under the Criminal Code from six months imprisonment to two years less a day.
The first step of the Law Society’s two-stage process amends By-law 4 (which sets out the paralegal scope of practice) and the Rights of Appearance documents for lawyer licensing candidates and law students (regulated agents) representing individuals on summary conviction matters.
The amendments, effective September 19, preserve the approximate “status quo” scope of activities, limited to the list of summary conviction offences currently punishable by a maximum of six months imprisonment.
The second stage involves the continuing review and development of the scope of activities for paralegals in criminal law matters. The Law Society intends to proactively address any risk associated with increased maximum penalties through measures to maintain and enhance competence, such as targeted CPD programming.
Approved “status quo” scope of practice for agents
The scope for regulated agents as of September 19, 2019, includes offences such as:
- Criminal harassment
- Theft under five thousand dollars
- Breaches of court orders
- Four summary conviction driving offences under the Criminal Code previously subject to maximum penalties of six months’ imprisonment until amended by federal Bill C-46 in 2018. (Dangerous operation, failure to stop after accident, flight from a peace officer, operation while prohibited).
Offenses not included in the “status quo” scope of practice
The following are examples of offenses that are not included in the permitted scope, due to having maximum penalties lengthier than six months imprisonment when prosecuted summarily prior to Bill C-75:
- Sexual assault
- Forcible confinement
- Assault causing bodily harm
(Republished from the Law Society Gazette – http://www.lawsocietygazette.ca/news/bill-c-75/)