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Established in 1985, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) is the final level of appeal to which workers and employers may bring disputes concerning workplace safety and insurance matters in Ontario. WSIAT has always been separate from and independent of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

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  Decision 819 19 I
7/9/2019
R. Horne - M. Falcone - M. Ferrari

  • Parties (representation) (paralegal) (exceptions) (relative, friend or neighbour)

In a preliminary matter in the worker's appeal, the Panel considered whether the worker's representative should be allowed to represent the worker.
A person who provides legal services, including appearing before the Tribunal, must be registered with the Law Society of Ontario, unless exempted pursuant to s. 1(8) of the Law Society Act. One of the exemptions is for a class of persons prescribed by the by-laws. Section 30(4) of By-law 4 authorizes representation without a licence by an individual who meets four criteria: the individual's profession does not included provision of legal services or the practice of law; the individual provides the legal services only for a friend or neighbour; the individual provides for services in respect of not more than three matters per year; the individual does not expect and does not receive any compensation.
The representative submitted that he came within the exemption for a friend in s. 30(4) of the By-law.
In Decision No. 2437/08ER, this representative has been found not to come within the exemption for a friend. However, the Panel noted that a finding an individual does not meet the friendship threshold in one case does not mean that the individual would not meet the threshold in a different case with a different worker, as the nature of the relationship may be entirely different.
The Panel reviewed each criterion in s. 30(4) of the By-law as it applied to this particular case.
The representative stated that he is retired but that he assists persons in compensation-related issues. He stated that he has helped hundreds of persona over the years, both in his capacity as a union representative and outside work as a self-declared WCB advocate. The Panel found that the representative was providing legal services.
Tribunal decisions have found that a friend within the By-law involves a relationship of more than a mere acquaintance and that the relationship must extend beyond the involvement with a compensation issue. In this case, there was no relationship beyond the circumstances of the worker's appeal. The Panel found that the relationship was not that of a friend.
It appeared that the representative was likely providing legal services in more than three matters in the last year. In making this finding, the Panel noted that legal services includes drafting documents, completing forms and providing legal advice, and that the limit of three matters is not specific to any one tribunal.
It appeared likely that the representative, if successful, would receive some remuneration for his involvement in this appeal.
The friend exemption applies only if all four criteria are met. In this case, the representative did not meet any of the criteria. The Panel concluded that the representative is not allowed to represent the worker.