- Parties (representation) (paralegal) (exceptions) (relative, friend or neighbour)
This interim decision addresses a representative's eligibility to represent the worker in an appeal regarding entitlement to LOE benefits. The representative was a paralegal whose status with the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) was listed as "not providing legal services." The representative advised that he had decided to retire and had not renewed his license for the forthcoming year. He requested an exemption from the LSO rules to represent the worker based on the "friend exemption."The Practice Direction: Representatives indicates that only those licensed by the LSO or authorized to provide legal services in accordance with the Law Society Act, its regulations and by-laws may appear before the Tribunal (para 2.1). The Panel found that, when the proceedings were initiated, the representative's status indicated he held a license to practice law; however, was not practicing law. This met the definition of "licensee" under section 1 of the Law Society Act.Rule 30 of By-Law 4 indicates that a person "may, without a licence, provide legal services in Ontario that a licensee who holds a Class P1 Licence is authorized to provide" within the stipulated exemptions, including acting for a friend or neighbor. Section 26.1(5) of the Law Society Act only permits a person "who is not a licensee" the ability to practice law or provide legal services to the extent permitted by the by-laws.The Panel adopted the reasoning set out in Decision No. 624/19I, which found that although a representative was considered a "licensee" not withstanding the suspension of his license, section 26.1 of the Law Society Act clearly and unequivocally restricts the provision of legal services to licensees in good standing. The Panel found that the representative was not eligible to represent the worker in the proceedings while his status was "not practicing law." In addition, since he held a valid license in accordance with the Law Society Act, exemptions under section 26.1 could not apply to him. In considering whether the representative could continue to represent the worker as a retired licensee, the Panel found that the representative was continuing to provide legal services to two other clients, and did not meet the first criteria for the "friends exemption", which requires that the individual not belong to a profession or occupation that includes the provision of legal services or the practice of law (see Decision No. 819/19). Furthermore, Decision 2703/16I held that to be defined as a "friend", the relationship between the representative and the party should extend beyond their involvement in the claim. There was no evidence of this in the subject claim. The representative was not eligible to represent the worker in this claim.