AM I MY PARTNER’S KEEPER? THE DUTY TO REPORT A COLLEAGUE

  • John Chapman
Keywords: Professional responsibility, law firms, duty to report

Abstract

The obligation to report to a law society a breach by another lawyer of ethical standards has traditionally been confined to the most serious forms of violations, such as theft. The obligation has been expanded under the recent Federation of Law Societies Model Code, now in force in many provinces. Under Rule 7-1-3(e) of the Model Code there is an obligation to report conduct that raises a “substantial question” with respect to a lawyer’s honesty, integrity or competence. A combination of Rule 7-1-3(e) and the availability of detailed information on the activities of firm members may mean that those in management roles at law firms will increasingly be under an obligation to report matters which up to now have not been frequently reported. Curiously, Ontario has decided not to include the Model Code’s Rule 7-1-3(e) its new Rules. However, it is submitted that even given this absence, the fact that power to discipline is linked to the wide phrase “professional misconduct” means that law firms in Ontario are also obliged to report conduct of their members that raises a “substantial question” with respect to that member’s honesty, integrity or competence. Still, it would be better if Ontario’s Rules were amended to include the Model Code’s 7-1-3(e) and to make the issue more clear.

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Published
2015-04-01
Section
Legal Commentary