There have been significant amendments to The Legal Professions Act which will be proclaimed into force January 1, 2020. The overall effect of these amendments is to assist the Law Society in shifting towards more modern approach to regulation. The new “Act” allows greater flexibility for the Law Society in controlling its own processes. This allows the Society to respond more effectively and in a more timely way to the shifting landscape of the provision of legal services.
For example, with the Amendments, the Law Society Benchers may establish any committees they feel are necessary to meet the needs of the profession and of the public. This can be achieved through the implementation of new Rules rather than the cumbersome process of amending the Act.
Another substantial change is removal of the Regulatory processes from the Act and placing them in the Rules. This liberalizes the Law Society’s ability to manage professional responsibility process in a way that best meet the public, and our members needs.
Finally, the Amendments to the “Act” enable the Society to develop rules with respect to the board/Bencher composition, and amend electoral processes, as appropriate. This allows the Law Society to adopt and create various good governance measures that the Benchers may determine will create efficiencies for the board, enhance fairness and transparency, and allow for considerations of whether specific skills or perspectives are needed on the board. More information about this initiative will be available in the future.
In order to accommodate the changes to the Act, significant changes were needed in some areas of the Rules. This also gave us the opportunity to take a long hard look at our Rules. Over the years, the Rules have developed in a bit of a patch work way, slotting in new Parts when necessary and making various amendments to existing parts, this has left some room for improvements.
So, effective January 1, 2020 there is going to be a bit of a different look to the Rules. The Rules have been reordered and renumbered as needed. We have also modernized the language and completed some significant house keeping changes as well. The end result is a cleaner, more intuitive structure and numbering of the Rules.
The more substantive changes have already been touched on as they relate to the professional responsibility processes and the new Firm Regulation Rules, which is in Part 9 of the Rules. There are some other amendments coming down the pipe that relate to anti-money laundering and terrorist financing. These particular Rules have been vetted by our Benchers are being implemented nationally in a joint effort to combat money laundering and terrorist financing efforts. The amendments will primarily affect the client id and verification parts of the rules that we have relied on since 2007. We will have supporting materials available in the future for the membership to ensure that they know and understand all the requirements of these new rules.