B.C. announces plan to consolidate regulation of lawyers, notaries, and paralegals

Proposal part of drive to modernize regulatory framework for legal professionals

B.C. announces plan to consolidate regulation of lawyers, notaries, and paralegals

The British Columbia government has announced its plan to modernize the regulatory framework for legal professionals across the province.

According to the B.C. Ministry of Attorney General, modernizing the regulatory framework for legal professionals, such as lawyers, notaries, and paralegals, will protect people accessing legal services and improve access to justice.

On Mar. 1, Attorney General David Eby wrote to Law Society of British Columbia and Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia presidents to seek their involvement in modernizing the existing regulatory framework.

The ministry said that the proposed changes would involve consolidating the regulation of all legal professionals by a singular statute and under a single regulator and mandating the regulator to protect the public, particularly their right to access legal services and advice.

“Having all legal professionals under one independent regulator will help ensure an efficient and centralized approach to closing the access to justice gap,” the ministry said.

Meanwhile, Law Society President Lisa Hamilton said that the Law Society’s board had already recognized the value of a single regulator for all legal professionals in 2012.

“Having all legal professionals overseen by one regulator improves consistency in the regulation of legal services which enhances protection of the public, creates efficiencies and aids efforts to improve access to legal services across the province,” Hamilton added.

The proposed changes will also involve establishing a modern regulatory framework consistent with best practices in professional regulatory governance.

The ministry noted that it would continue to refine the specifics of the proposed changes in partnership with the Law Society, Society of Notaries Public, and representatives from the paralegal profession.

“As we engage with the Ministry of Attorney General, the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia and others, we will work to ensure that the framework for a single regulator protects the public, improves access to legal services and continues to recognize the fundamental importance of independent legal professions,” said Don Avison, Law Society CEO and executive director.

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