You have hired a lawyer and you have good reason to believe that he has committed a breach of ethics? Before anything else, contact your lawyer to ask for an explanation. If the explanations he gives are unsatisfactory, or if you can not reach your lawyer, the Syndic of the Barreau du Québec may help you.
The Barreau du Québec's primary mandate is to protect the public. Thus, it must ensure the discipline of the legal profession, respect of ethics and the proficiency of its members and of the people who want to join its ranks.
Although the vast majority of lawyers provide professional services of quality, it is possible that a lawyer has been incompetent to you, that he has violated a law or a professional regulation. You then have an appeal: you can contact the Syndic's Office of the Barreau du Québec, which, depending on the case, will investigate and act before the Disciplinary Board.
To file a request for investigation regarding the professional practice of a lawyer, you must
write to the Syndic's Office of the Barreau du Québec stating:
It is recommended to attach to your letter a copy of relevant documents in your possession.
You must send your correspondence to the following address, by mail, fax or email:
Bureau du syndic
445, boul. Saint-Laurent
If the Syndic's Office estimate that the facts in the investigation are such that public safety could be compromised if the lawyer continues to practice his profession, he then submits a complaint to the Disciplinary Board of the Barreau du Québec.
The Disciplinary Board is composed of three persons: the president - a lawyer appointed by the Québec government after consulting the Barreau - and two other lawyers appointed by the Barreau. It is a tribunal, independent of the Barreau du Québec in performing its functions. A charge so made by the Syndic's Office incur no cost to the applicant for investigation.
The decision of the Syndic's Office to complain or not will be communicated to you in writing within a period that can vary depending on the complexity and number of ongoing investigations. In the case the Syndic's Office decides not to lodge a complaint, he must explain in writing the reasons for its decision.
When someone asks the Syndic's Office to investigate the conduct of a lawyer but that the syndic arrives at the conclusion that there is no need to file a disciplinary complaint, the person who requested the inquiry may request a review of the syndic's decision to the Comité de révision.
A person who wants to ask for a review of the syndic's decision may do so within thirty days of receipt of the syndic's decision.
Any request for review received more than thirty days after the applicant has received investigative syndic's decision will be declared inadmissible. The date of postmark will confirm the date of filing the application for review.
The Comité de révision's function is to ensure the quality of the investigation and the merits of the syndic's decision.
Le Comité de révision has 90 days to render its opinion. This period, however, is not one of discipline and it is possible that a review takes more time.
After its review, the Committee may:
The Disciplinary Board hears any complaints filed before it under the Professional Code, regardless that it is given by a syndic or a person of the public (private complaint). The Disciplinary Board is composed of three persons: the president - appointed by the Government of Québec - and two members appointed by the Barreau.
The Disciplinary Board is an administrative tribunal that provides full guarantees of independence and impartiality necessary to a quality justice. No employee or officer of the Barreau du Québec can interfere in the decision process.
In this context, the Registry of discipline is the interface between the Disciplinary Board and the parties (the syndic or the private complainant, on the one hand and, on the other hand, the respondent lawyer). The Registry, through the Secretary of the Disciplinary Board, receives complaints, conducts all the necessary significations throughout the process (complaints, notices of hearings, subpœnas, decisions, etc..) and give all information required on the state of the record.
Anyone wishing to bring itself a complaint with the Disciplinary Board of the Barreau du Québec must write to the Secretary of the Disciplinary Board. A document entitled "Comment porter soi-même une plainte contre un avocat" is available on request at the Registry of discipline.
The complaint must be supported by an affidavit sworn and indicate where, when and how the fault occurred. It is important to note that in the case of a private complaint, as is the case of a complaint filed by the syndic, it is the person who complains that it is to demonstrate that the lawyer committed offense.
The Disciplinary Board may dismiss the complaint or report the lawyer guilty of the offense. If found guilty, after a rehearing, the lawyer is imposed sanctions such as reprimand, temporary or permanent radiation, limitation, suspension or revocation of licensure or a fine.
It is possible to appeal a decision of the Disciplinary Board to the Professions Tribunal. However, if the complaint was brought by the Syndic's Office, only he and the respondent lawyer may appeal. The Professions Tribunal follows its own rules.
© Barreau du Québec 2007-