Yesterday, the Ontario Court of Appeal rejected DioGuardi’s constitutional challenge of the Law Society Act. DioGuardi and his father Paul, who is also his law partner, had argued the act leaves highly sensitive client information vulnerable to public disclosure during law society investigations.
Last year, in the midst of an investigation into their practices, the DioGuardi lawyers went to the Superior Court to get an order protecting confidential information belonging to clients who have lodged complaints against them. The lawyers, who act for clients dealing with the Canada Revenue Agency, were concerned that if client information becomes public (and known to the CRA) through the law society proceedings, some of those clients may face criminal prosecution.
The DioGuardi lawyers also argued that the law society should obtain a written waiver of solicitor-client privilege from complainants, perhaps in the form of a notice on the complaint form that complainants’ information may become public.
But the lower court had declined to intervene, adding it would not get involved in administrative proceedings “absent exceptional circumstances.” And yesterday, the court of appeal agreed. “Our conclusion on this issue is simple: we agree with the application judge’s conclusion and with his reasons in support of the conclusion,” said James MacPherson, who wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel.