This section expands on complaints, to discuss concerns particular to members. If you are a lawyer who has a complaint filed against you or who is considering filing a complaint against another lawyer, please also read our Complaints page for instructions and a description of our complaints procedures from start to finish.
Obligation to File a ComplaintOpen
Lawyers are reminded they have a DUTY to file a complaint and report cases where it is reasonable to expect that a person has suffered or may suffer damage or loss due to another lawyer’s breach of conduct. In other cases, lawyers may file a complaint but are not required to do so. All members of the Law Society of New Brunswick are encouraged to carefully review Chapter 15 Colleagues of the Code of Professional Conduct.
When a lawyer files a complaint against another lawyer, either on his or her own behalf or on behalf of a client, the process we follow is the same as when a complaint is filed by a member of the public.Close
From time to time, members self-report breaches and/or other errors to the Society even though a complaint has not been filed by another person. These reports are processed along with complaints. The Registrar of Complaints will acknowledge receipt of the report and advise if an investigation will be required or not.Close
Duty to RespondOpen
The office of the Registrar of Complaints is governed by Part 10 Discipline and Competence of the Law Society Act, 1996. When deciding if an investigation is required or if a complaint may have merit, the Registrar of Complaints will apply the Code of Professional Conduct. Inquiries, investigations and/or audits can be conducted even in cases where a complaint has not been received.
If the Registrar determines to conduct an investigation, the member will be informed and given a deadline to reply.
Lawyers have a duty to respond to their law society. In New Brunswick, this duty is set out in Chapter 19 The Profession of the Code of Professional Conduct, in Part 10 Discipline and Competence of the Law Society Act, 1996, and in Rule 79(2) of the General Rules.Close
Not All Complaints Are InvestigatedOpen
If the matter does not merit investigation, the matter is not a formal complaint and the member will not be contacted by the Society. However, the Registrar may require the member to file a Professional Liability Claim Report if the matter discloses a potential negligence claim.Close
The Response ItselfOpen
Once a member’s reply to a complaint is received by the Law Society, it is usually copied and provided to the complainant unless the member provides an adequate reason why it should not be disclosed, such as solicitor-client privilege. The Registrar must be put on notice if the member does not want the reply to be forwarded and an adequate reason for the request must be provided. Without a valid reason to justify a variance from our normal procedure, the reply will be provided to the complainant.Close
Failure to RespondOpen
Failure to respond is professional misconduct.
Members who have been asked to reply to the Law Society but who cannot reply on or before the deadline must communicate with the Registrar’s office. Failure to reply on time may result in a complaint being filed by the Registrar. Additionally, if a member fails to reply to a specific complaint, the Registrar’s complaint would be considered a second, separate complaint. There have been cases in New Brunswick where an initial complaint was eventually rejected, but the lawyer was disciplined for the second complaint of failure to reply.Close
Not All Complaints Are PublicOpen
Inquiries by the Law Society are not made public, nor are complaints investigations while being conducted by the Registrar, by the Complaints Committees or by the Competence Committee. Complaints only become public if they are referred to the Discipline Committee. Sanctions imposed by the Complaints Committee are not made public unless they involve a practice restriction—the public must be notified of any current practice restriction or condition.
Complaints that are public (i.e. that have been referred to the Discipline Committee) are listed for the public on our Discipline Cases page.Close
Pursuant to Canada’s National Mobility Agreement, members with an ongoing discipline case or a discipline history are not eligible to practise in another Canadian jurisdiction without requesting permission from or giving notice to the law society of the host jurisdiction. Every member’s mobility status is public and we are required to disclose it when requested. This is true in every case: in cases where a member is not eligible for mobility, we must disclose that the member is not eligible even if the reason why is not public.Close
If You Still Have QuestionsOpen
Members with questions or concerns are invited to communicate with us. We cannot give advice with respect to specific situations, nor can we answer hypothetical questions of ethics, but we will attempt to help locate the relevant legislation that may provide an answer or give whatever assistance we are able to provide.Close