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SCC dismisses Kopyto appeal on paralegal regulation

|Written By Heather Gardiner

In a long-standing battle with the Law Society of Upper Canada, former lawyer Harry Kopyto took his case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, and ultimately lost.

Harry Kopyto has been denied the chance to argue his case at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Today the SCC dismissed his application for leave to appeal.

Kopyto sought to be grandfathered as a paralegal in Ontario after he was disbarred as a lawyer in 1989 for overbilling legal aid. The law society initiated a good character hearing, which Kopyto used to challenge the LSUC’s jurisdiction to regulate paralegals, arguing it violates the Constitution and federal competition laws.

The law society began regulating paralegals in May 2007.

“It actually restricted access to justice by giving lawyers a monopoly for legal services and legal advice and eliminating the more affordable competition, the paralegals,” Kopyto told Law Times in February 2011.

“They claim they took over because paralegals were committing criminal acts and were incompetent. I want to see that evidence but I don’t think it exists. It was no worse with paralegals than it was with lawyers. The real reason they did it was to advance their own economic agenda.”

The case has been through three separate hearing panels, beginning in late 2009, after Kopyto made repeated accusations of bias.

Kopyto filed a motion to stay the good character hearing, claiming the regulatory regime was unconstitutional. The law society then sought to have the motion quashed, which was granted by the hearing panel on the basis that the panel wasn’t competent to hear constitutional challenges as they are better suited for the courts.

Kopyto sought judicial review of this decision, but the Divisional Court sided with the hearing panel. So Kopyto took his statement of claim to the Ontario Superior Court seeking five declarations:

  • that bylaw 4 of the Law Society Act constituted an “anti-competitive act” as defined in the Competition Act;
  • that the LSUC had abused its position by restricting access to justice due to its assumption of regulatory jurisdiction over paralegals;
  • that the LSUC acted in bad faith and was in a conflict of interest by dealing with the paralegal profession;
  • that bylaw 4 was not in the public interest because it restricted paralegals’ practice, contrary to the enabling statute; and
  • that bylaw 4 violated the constitutional right of access to affordable justice.

The court ultimately ruled against him. In November, the Ontario Court of Appeal also dismissed Kopyto’s appeal.

“[W]e see no possibility that the appellant’s attack on the constitutionality of the legislation can succeed,” stated the appeal ruling. “It is plain and obvious that this claim, no matter how drafted, is doomed to fail.”

For more on this story, read “Kopyto’s long battle with LSUC."

  • Disbarred

    Hated Won
    I practiced law for a couple decades but was disbarred for non-pecuniary offences. As I look back on those I met in Law School the vast majority were those who couldn't get into Medicine or their other wished for professional. I have an continue to speak my mind and I don't kiss ass. The Law Society is to protect lawyers and their income.
    Rarely are lawyers disbarred for thievery but failure to kiss as and your done for dinner. Harry kicked ass not kissed. The Lawyer representing me called to inform me of what he believed to be a horribly unfair loss. I have surprisingly received four or five letters from lawyers who were shocked by the lack of justice. I told my counsel that I am glad I lost because I would never want to be a member of a group that could be so unjust.
  • Individual

    John
    It is not much of a guess as why it is that a common citizen cannot obtain justice in our present system if this is how the Law Society of Upper Canada mets out justice ... it is a sad day for Canadians if this is how we face lawyers ... just one corrupt panel after another ... Reminds me of an old joke ... Roger goes to see George and asks if he can borrow his axe... George said: no, Roger, I am baking a cake....
    Rogers asks what has that to do with borrowing the axe?
    George's reply ... If I do not want to lend it to you one excuse is as good as another... Good luck in your next court case...
  • RE: SCC dismisses Kopyto appeal on paralegal regulation

    Eric
    It's pretty rich of this guy to make claims about affordable access to justice when he was disbarred for overbilling legal aid! :oops:

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