British Columbia landlords soon may have the option of hiring certified paralegals to handle evictions and other landlord-tenant legal disputes, a move that may offer significant savings in legal fees.
At their December meeting, the Benchers of the Law Society of British Columbia unanimously approved in principle recommendations that could transform the regulation and delivery of legal services in BC.
These recommendations are the culmination of many years of review capped by a year consulting and studying the question of whether various legal service providers, including lawyers, notaries public and paralegals, should be brought under one regulatory umbrella.
The Legal Service Providers Task Force presented its final report on December 6, 2013. The Benchers approved the task force’s recommendation that a program be created to provide certification program for paralegals who have met specific, prescribed education and training standards.
The Law Society is tasked with developing a regulatory framework by which other providers of legal services could provide credentialed and regulated legal services in the public interest. It is possible that the rules will draw from Ontario’s model, where paralegals already are allowed to represent landlords in eviction proceedings.
While details of the proposals will need to be developed in consultation with the notaries, government and others, task force Chair Bruce LeRose, QC said approving the recommendations in principle was an important first step. “Access to justice is slipping out of reach for many British Columbians,” said LeRose. “It is critical that the Law Society look for ways to reverse that trend, and these ideas could be a big part of that.”
Law Society President Art Vertlieb, QC called the Benchers’ unanimous support for the motion a “watershed moment in the Law Society’s history.”
The Attorney General & Minister of Justice, The Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia, and The BC Paralegal Association joined in supporting the change.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.