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Ontario’s recent budget bill includes an amendment to the Law Society Act that, when passed, will provide statutory recognition of paralegals as officers of the court, in every court in which they are authorized to provide legal services.
Tabled in the legislature on March 28, the pending amendment responds to the Law Society’s request for this acknowledgement, as endorsed by Convocation last December.
Previously, the question of whether paralegals are officers of the court had remained unclear since the Law Society began regulating the profession in 2007.
Officers of the court play an important role in the effective administration of justice and are bound by certain duties, which the court can enforce, including duties of candor, fairness, integrity and respect for the administration of justice.
Recognizing paralegals as officers of the court will additionally reinforce that, as participants in the administration of justice, paralegals have duties to the courts and tribunals in which they appear — and these duties override their duties to clients.
When passed, the amendment to the Act, will not impact the courts’ power to control their own processes or change the paralegal scope of practice.
The 2018 budget — A Plan for Care and Opportunity — is available online.