Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 1145 22 I
A. Wong - G. Burkett - Z. Agnidis
  • Parties (representation) (authority)
  • Parties (representation) (removal of representative)
  • Parties (representation) (paralegal) (exceptions) (relative, friend or neighbour)

The only issue to be resolved in this preliminary decision was whether or not the employer's representative was legally entitled to represent the employer in this proceeding. The Panel adjourned the appeal to permit the employer to obtain a new representative or to prepare to represent itself in this appeal.

The representative (R.M.) in this case was an accountant. She was not licensed under the LSA as a lawyer or a paralegal. She submitted that she fell within the family, friend and neighbour licensing exemption, and specifically, that she was a friend of the employer.
The Panel found that R.M. did not meet the criteria for the exception enumerated in section 30(1) of By-Law 4 concerning an individual who acts for a family member, friend or neighbour. The first two parts of the exemption were met as R.M.'s profession did not include the provision of legal services, and she did not provide and had not provided legal services to anyone in the past. However, it was found that the legal services in this appeal were not being provided for a relative, friend, or neighbour.
Based upon the worker's testimony, the Panel found that the preponderance of evidence suggested that R.M. had a professional business relationship with the employer, and not a friend relationship. It was noted that while R.M. testified that she was not charging for her services, there remained an opportunity for indirect compensation as she continued to provide accounting services on an as-needed basis to the employer.
The Panel acknowledged that there are situations where the friend exemption could apply even though a relationship originally began as a business relationship. For instance, Decision No. 361/12I, which looked at the length and extent of the personal relationship between the party and the representative. However, Decision No. 361/12I was considered distinguishable, as in that case, the representative was representing the worker after the closure of the representative's consulting business. In this case, R.M. had an ongoing business relationship with the employer.
For the reasons noted above, the Panel found that R.M.'s business relationship with the employer did not fall into the category of friend or neighbour, and therefore, the exemption did not apply.