In Ontario, the Law Society Act entitles the Law Society of Ontario to make rules, regulations, and by-laws to govern the conduct of lawyers and paralegals. By-Law 4 under the Act sets out what legal proceedings may be dealt with by paralegals. In Ontario, paralegals may only provide legal services in relation to proceedings specified by By-Law 4.
These specified proceedings of By-Law 4 include the following:
- Small Claims Court, which hears complaints for damages or return of property valued at $25,000.00 or less;
- tribunals, such as the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and Landlord Tenant Board;
- minor offences heard in the Ontario Court of Justice under the Criminal Code where the maximum penalty is a $5,000 fine and/or imprisonment up to a maximum of six months, such as causing a disturbance, theft under $5,000, and possession of stolen property under $5,000;
- more serious Criminal Code offences designated as hybrid offences - including assault, possession of a weapon, and fraud - when the Crown has elected to proceed summarily;
- a Statutory Accidents Benefit Schedule matter, except for catastrophic impairment claims; and
- traffic court charges under the Provincial Offences Act, and other provincial offences under the Liquor License Act and Environmental Protection Act, for example.
Licensed paralegals in Ontario have strict educational requirements, such as completion of an accredited paralegal program at a college of Ontario, completion of Law Society licensing examinations, and Continuing Professional Development requirements. Furthermore, paralegals in Ontario are bound by the professional ethics set out by the Law Society’s Paralegal Rules of Conduct.
If you have a question about whether your legal issue is within the scope of practice of a paralegal in Ontario, you can contact a lawyer or a paralegal. You can contact Lambert Paralegal Services at 905-577-3216 to arrange for a free consultation.
Blog Post Update (Dec. 7, 2021): Since January 1, 2020, the maximum claim that can be filed in Small Claims Court in Ontario is $35,000.00.
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