File a complaint for illegal practice
If you suspect someone is practicing law illegally, please report him or her. The protection of the public is at stake.
Illegal practice of the legal profession
When you deal with a lawyer, you receive sound advice about your rights. Before retaining the services of a lawyer, make sure they are a member in good standing of the Barreau du Québec. If you believe that someone is practicing law illegally, please report him or her to the Barreau, completing the form provided.
Non-lawyers who perform acts reserved for lawyers or who give reason to believe that they are authorized to practice as a lawyer are practicing law illegally. In so doing, they may jeopardize your rights. Therefore, those who are not members of the Barreau du Québec or who do not have a special permit issued by the Barreau du Québec do not have the right, for example, to give legal advice, draft legal proceedings or represent individuals before the courts. By performing acts that are reserved for lawyers, these persons are guilty of an offence under the Act respecting the Barreau and liable to the penalties set out in section 188 of the Professional Code.
Acts reserved for the legal profession
In Quebec, acts reserved for the legal profession require specific knowledge, skills and abilities as well as the obligation to be a member of the Barreau du Québec.
The following are some examples of acts reserved for Quebec lawyers:
- give legal advice and consultations on legal matters;
- plead or act for others before any court or tribunal (except under certain conditions and before certain tribunals, as set out in section 128 of the Act respecting the Barreau du Québec);
- make collections or claims with costs or imply that legal proceedings will be instituted on behalf of others (formal notice);
- prepare and draw up documents (motions, proceedings) for use in a case before the courts; and
- incorporate a company, by preparing and drawing up all documents relating to constitution, organization, reorganization or winding-up of the legal person.
For a complete list of the acts reserved for lawyers who are members in good standing of the Barreau du Québec, please see sections 128 and following of the Act respecting the Barreau du Québec.
Legal opinion or advice
Providing legal advice and consultations on legal matters is the exclusive prerogative of practicing lawyers.
A legal opinion or advice is a specific position, point of view or guideline that a lawyer or notary adopts to answer a legal question. The purpose of a legal opinion is to interpret or apply certain aspects of the law to a particular case or find a solution. It requires legal knowledge that goes beyond that of a person with no legal training.
Legal advice should not be confused with legal information, which is limited to a reference or factual information about a law or regulation.
Before retaining the services of a lawyer, make sure he is a member in good standing of the Barreau du Québec. This simple verification is free and can save you a lot of grief.
To verify whether a lawyer is a member in good standing of the Barreau:
514-954-3411 or toll-free 1-844-954-3411
Forms of illegal practice of the legal profession
- performs acts reserved for lawyers without a permit from the Barreau du Québec;
- presents themselves as a lawyer or uses the prefix “Mtre,” which is a reserved title, or claims to have the right to practice law without holding a permit from the Barreau du Québec;
- gives reason to believe that they are authorized to practice as a lawyer without holding a permit from the Barreau du Québec;
- usurps the functions of a lawyer, in particular by acting as an intermediary between a lawyer and their client regarding their fees
is guilty of an offence under the Act respecting the Barreau du Québec for illegal practice.
Illegal practice could be costly
When you place your trust in someone who practices law illegally, you jeopardize your rights and remedies, including
- the confidentiality of the information you entrust;
- a correct interpretation of the laws and regulations in force;
- consultation based on up-to-date legal knowledge that takes into account the most recent legislative changes;
- legal advice tailored to your case;
- protection of the money you pay for legal services into the trust account of a lawyer in good standing;
- an appropriate remedy to assert your rights;
- the protection provided by legal malpractice insurance;
- compensation from the Barreau du Québec compensation fund if funds or property are used for purposes other than those for which you had entrusted them to a lawyer.
Internet and illegal practice—be careful
Whether you surf the internet, use social networks or write blogs, be aware that the internet is the platform of choice for illegal practice owing to the ease of communication and large user base. Exercise caution when searching the internet.
Self-proclaimed “legal experts”
Some people openly portray themselves as non-lawyers but claim to know the law well and be able to give informed legal advice through social networks (Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, VK, Odyssey, etc.) or their personal blogs. It can be very tempting to take advantage of free advice, but such advice could prove useless, wrong or inapplicable to you.
Fake lawyer sites
Other non-lawyers hide behind neat-looking websites. Although the content of these sites may appear credible at first glance, it is misleading for those looking for ways to assert their rights. Some of the individuals behind these sites go as far as impersonating real lawyers on the Roll of the Order, signing credible administrative documents and publishing false positive testimonials on opinion sites and reassuring responses to accounts from victims. Others pretend to be experts in immigration matters and misappropriate the logos of government authorities or other real organizations to appear more compelling.
Exercise caution. Every time you consider retaining the services of a lawyer you do not know, contact the Barreau to make sure this person is a member in good standing of the Barreau du Québec and has the right to practice law.
Role of the Barreau du Québec
The mission of the Barreau du Québec is to protect the public. To fulfill its mission, the Barreau supervises the practice of the profession, makes sure lawyers maintain and update their knowledge through continuing education, and verifies that its members take out professional liability insurance to ensure that the public is protected in case of harm. The mission of the Barreau du Québec also includes taking the necessary measures to ensure that non-lawyers do not perform acts reserved for lawyers.
Reporting illegal practice
The Barreau du Québec takes the necessary measures to ensure compliance with the Act respecting the Barreau du Québec and may initiate penal proceedings against offenders.
To report a person who practices law illegally, please file a complaint with the Barreau.
Illegal practice of the legal profession can be reported without any risk of reprisals. The reporting of illegal practice is treated in confidence, and the identity of the reporting person can remain confidential.
Reporting illegal practice
If you wish to report illegal practice, please fill out the form and provide copies of the supporting documents, depending on the place of residence or practice of the person being reported: