The Law Society of Upper Canada took longer to complete regulatory investigations in 2012 than the year before.
According to a report released by the professional regulation committee for yesterday’s Convocation, it took the department 245 days to wrap up the majority of investigations after a complaint was filed. That’s an 8.6 per cent increase from the previous year.
The committee says the spike is a result of increase in real estate and mortgage complaints, which take longer to process.
“When real estate and mortgage fraud complaints are removed from the investigations inventory, the median age of all other complaints in investigation at the end of 2012 decreased to 239 days,” says the report.
“This is below the department’s median age target of 240 days.”
At the end of the year, the department’s inventory was 937 cases involving 778 subjects, according to the report. This number does not include reactivated and mortgage fraud cases.
About half of the 937 cases were less than 10 months old when the year wrapped up, the committee said, adding some 142 were more than 18 months old.
The committee says cases more than 18 months old are a result of investigators having to wait for evidence from a third party, such as psychiatric evaluations.
Multiple cases involving one lawyer and a complainant about multiple lawyers in related matters are also listed as the reason for the tardiness.
But in the same year, the law society also saw a slight decrease in the number of complaints against lawyers.
The professional regulation division reported receiving 1.7 per cent fewer grievances the last year than 2011.
Complaints related to service issues amounted to 75 per cent of all complaints received by the law society, a trend that hasn’t changed from 2011.
Issues related to integrity and conflict showed a slight increase in 2012 while governance-type complaints decreased by two per cent.
The law society closed 1053 dispositions in 2012, slightly lower than 1201 cases in 2011.