LSUC Front DoorCan the Law Society Suspend My License before they have made any Findings of Misconduct?  Motions for Interlocutory Suspension or Restriction?

The short answer is yes. But there are some criteria. Firstly, if you are the subject of a complaint and the Law Society brings an Application for an Interlocutory Suspension or Restriction, you very much need to take this seriously. The Law Society has the authority to bring such an application, and it is in The Law Society Act, section 49.27(1) and (2). They read as follows:

  •  49.27(1) - The Hearing Division may make an interlocutory order authorized by the rules of practice and procedure, subject to subsection (2).
  •  49.27(2) - The Hearing Division may only make an interlocutory order suspending a licensee’s licence or restricting the manner in which a licensee may practise law or provide legal services if there are reasonable grounds for believing that there is a significant risk of harm to members of the public, or to the public interest in the administration of justice, if the order is not made.

Section 49.27(1) is the Law Society Tribunal's authority for making an order, and section 49.27(2) is where the criteria and limits are.

Accordingly, a hearing panel can only suspend a license to practice when there are reasonable grounds for beleiving there is a significant:

      a)      Risk of harm to members of the public

      b)      Public Interest in the administration of justice

Some not so good News - Motions for Interlocutory Suspension or Restriction

There are some things to keep in mind. Firstly, when the Law Society files a Motion for Interlocutory Suspension, it is public. It will be publicly available on the Law Society Tribunal's website. It can come up when people use Google to see you. 

Ordinarily, when you receive a complaint, the Law Society gets instructions to investigate. Suppose the investigation finds evidence of professional misconduct, and it goes to a hearing. In that case, the facts become public at the end of the investigation when there are better odds of a panel finding misconduct. In a Motion for Interlocutory Suspension or Restriction, the facts are made known at the beginning of the investigation. You have not had the benefit of any process, no one has proven you engaged in any misconduct, and the allegations are public. If you're a small local lawyer or paralegal, this could be disastrous for you.

Between any interests, there is tension. In the case of a Motion for Interlocutory Suspension or Restriction, the tension lies between giving a licensee process at a fair and public hearing and protecting the public and the Society's reputation. The Law Society can only be effective in regulating the legal professions when it does so in the public interest. It is, therefore, a drastic step that should only be in the clearest of cases.

The Risk Assessment Interview

Typically, one of two things will happen. One, the Law Society will have enough evidence they do not need to talk to you. Two, they will ask you to attend a "Risk Assessment" interview. My experience is that even if they have evidence, they will likely still ask you for an interview. The evidence they have might not be in context, and you must co-operate in an investigation. There is also a chance you might provide them with more evidence. So chances are, the Law Society will interview you.

What I am about to say is not official legal advice because this is on my website. I am confident that if you spoke to a lawyer or a paralegal, they would tell you not to go to a risk assessment interview alone.

You won't know what evidence they have, you might be emotional, and the Law Society can use this interview against you. That has the potential to make the hearing a lot more complicated.

My pro tip - Do Not Go It Alone. Have someone there with you.

Some Good News - Motions for Interlocutory Suspension or Restriction

Now that we have some gloom and doom out of the way, there is some good news. In a hearing for a Motion for Interlocutory Suspension or Restriction, the law society has to prove on a balance of probabilities that the risks noted above exist. The Law Society Tribunal hearing the case can find there is a significant risk but has to balance that against the fact that the licensee has yet to have any process, that the allegations are being made public. The Law Society Tribunal must impose the least restrictive order.

Visit our Client resources section for some notable caselaw on Motions for Interlocutory Suspension. In one case, a prosecutor accused of ticket-fixing had reasonable restrictions placed. In another case involving a similar subject, the same thing happened. Both cases resulted in no suspension. One of the problems with a Motion for Interlocutory Suspension or Restriction is that it is early in the investigation, and there is typically little evidence.

Some Cases We Argued

Your license to practice is essential. Make sure whoever you retain has argued a motion for interlocutory suspension or restriction. Please take a look at a couple we have done.

If you are the subject of a Motion for Interlocutory Suspension or Restriction before the Law Society Tribunal, Email us at or Call Us TODAY!  (416) 925-2400.

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