Practicing law as a lawyer or an Immigration Consultant require a mandatory licensing from a Canadian regulatory/licensing body.
For example, a Canadian Lawyer must have his/her active membership with a Canadian Provincial Law society, such as Law Society of Upper Canada in Ontario and Law Society of BC in British Columbia. Every Canadian province has its own law society to issue licenses to lawyers. A Canadian lawyer regardless of his/her licensing jurisdiction can practice law all over Canada within certain limitations as set by the respective law societies. Every licensed lawyer is issued a license number to identify him/her.
Similarly, there is another federal licensing body in Canada the "ICCRC" which is responsible to regulate the Immigration consultants profession. ICCRC issues license to an Immigration consultant which also has a number to identify him/her. The ICCRC regulations also permit its member to appoint an agent to deal with his/her client outside Canada. All members of the ICCRC and their agents must follow agent regulations.
Few tips for the public to identify serious concerns:
- All lawyers or Immigration consultants must provide their full legal name and license number when dealing with clients, courts, Immigration office and in any client representation situation.
- All lawyers or Immigration consultants must document every communication with the client and protect the privacy and confidentiality of the client. They are required to keep a record of this communication or file record for 5 to 6 years.
- If a lawyers or Immigration consultant has a website they must provide their licensing credentials within for the public to verify their status. If you see a website which has no information about the legal professional such has his/her name license number and details of his/her agent if any and direct contact details, that is against their licensing regulations and must be reported.
- If a lawyers or Immigration consultant is asking you to pay a case fee without a retainer agreement that is against their licensing regulations and must be reported.
- If a lawyers or Immigration consultant has taken a fee from you to represent you in any legal matter, they must provide you a receipt and a statement of account as soon as possible and keep doing so periodically to report the disbursement activity for your record. If you don't see such process being adopted, it is a concern and also against their licensing regulations and must be reported.
- If a lawyers or Immigration consultant has been paid for any legal service, they have a legal obligation to answer your reasonable questions and related inquiries within a reasonable time or as soon as possible and be in contact with you on regular basis to provide an update on your matter. If your legal professional is no longer answering your messages or communication, this should be a serious concern as well as against their licensing regulations and must be reported.
- If a lawyers or Immigration consultant is representing you with or without fee, they must provide you/client copy of all filing record and communication to and from the Immigration office or court or the opposing party. If you have not received any copy for your record from your counsel you may ask them to provide that and if they do not entertain your request or provide a reasonable answer, that is a serious concern. This action of your counsel is against their licensing regulations and must be reported.
- As a client, you have a legal right to fire your current counsel with or without reason and request them to transfer the file to a new counsel or to you. In that case, it is the counsel's as well as client's responsibility to inform the proper court or the authority for such withdrawal or termination. Your lawyer or Immigration consultant cannot refuse you to hand over the file record even if you owe them a fee.
The public is encouraged to keep these common points in mind when dealing with a Canadian legal professional for their own interest.
How can UCICA assist the public in such situations?
In general, it is the responsibility of respective licensing body to provide a system for the public to report such activity and then the member will be investigated and disciplined if funds guilty. All Canadian law societies and the ICCRC have related information on their website. Members of the public are encouraged to adopt the given process.
You don't need a lawyer or legal representative to file a report or complaint against your counsel. This is a free service.
However, if you need assistance in understanding the process and know your legal rights and options before engaging is such reporting, UCICA can provide this service to you at no cost. Simply use following link and submit your service inquiry.
Public Service Request Form