Glossary of Terms
The following words, acronyms and expressions are commonly used at the Law Society Tribunal
An adjournment is the postponement of a hearing to another date. The Tribunal has a strict adjournment policy and adjournments are not guaranteed, even if both parties have consented. Adjournments are to be requested only in case of exceptional circumstances such as the illness of a party, witness or representative. Late retention of counsel, the unavailability of counsel or the parties’ wishes to engage in last-minute settlement discussions are generally not be considered exceptional circumstances. There is a practice direction on adjournments at (link).
Adjudicator, Panelist, or Tribunal Member
Panels at the Law Society Tribunal are comprised of adjudicators . They hear and decide cases, and can be benchers, elected or appointed legal professionals or lay people. Each panel is chosen by the Tribunal Chair, with an eye to representation, areas of expertise, and fairness. When there are multiple adjudicators on a panel, one of the adjudicators is assigned to lead the panel as chair.
An affidavit is a written statement or declaration of evidence that is sworn or affirmed to be true.
Agreed Statement of Facts (ASF)
Parties can agree on the facts of the case before the hearing, which saves time and money for the panel and the parties. ASFs must be accepted by the panel.
An appeal is a request made to the Tribunal or a higher court, for a review of a decision. Tribunal Hearing Division decisions are appealed to the Tribunal’s Appeal Division. Some Appeal Division decisions can be appealed to the Divisional Court.
A general term used for any conference of parties and adjudicators. Proceeding Management Conferences, Pre-Hearing Conferences and hearing days are all considered appearances.
This is the party who files the notice. In conduct, capacity, non-compliance or interlocutory suspension proceedings (among others), the Law Society is the applicant. In licensing proceedings, the licence applicant is the applicant. There are other proceedings where the licensee is the applicant but they are uncommon: reinstatement or terms dispute proceedings. In an appeal, the applicant is called the appellant.
Law Society of Ontario benchers are elected by Ontario lawyers and paralegals to govern the regulation of Ontario legal professionals. They can decide policy at Convocation and sit on Law Society Tribunal panels.
The By-Laws detail the Law Society’s requirements regarding licensee conduct. By-Laws dealing with conduct are mostly related to licensees’ responsibilities in dealing with the Law Society and their books and records.
Costs are a financial award made by the Tribunal for expenses in bringing or defending a proceeding or a step in a proceeding. Costs submissions are usually made at the end of the hearing, once a finding has been made, though costs can be ordered as a result of either party failing to follow the panel’s directives or instructions at other points in the hearing.
Counsel or Representative
The counsel or representative is the person who represents or advises a party regarding that party’s Tribunal proceeding. If they choose, licensees/licence applicants may be represented by a paralegal, a lawyer, a student-at-law, may be assisted by duty counsel, or may choose to self-represent.
Court Of Appeal for Ontario
The Court of Appeal for Ontario is highest court in the province. It hears appeals from lower Ontario courts. Decisions of the Court of Appeal may be further appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, if the Supreme Court agrees.
The Divisional Court is a branch of the Superior Court of Justice. The court hears appeals and reviews of decisions by government agencies, tribunals and boards, as well as some appeals.
Duty counsel are independent lawyers or paralegals who provide limited free legal assistance to licensees/licence applicants who need advice in preparation for a Tribunal hearing.
A disposition is a decision that concludes, or ‘disposes’ of, a proceeding.
An endorsement is a short written record of each significant event during a proceeding. Endorsements are made after every appearance, as well as whenever an appearance is scheduled or reasons are sent out. Endorsements are part of the public record of a proceeding.
An exhibit is a document or object admitted as evidence.
A factum is a document in which a party sets out a concise argument, stating the facts and laws that will be relied on.
File Management Coordinator (FMC)
The File Management Coordinator helps to guide a proceeding by corresponding with both parties, receiving exhibits, assisting in the hearing, and much more. FMCs are the Tribunal counterpart to court clerks.
Hearings are the part of a proceeding during which the parties present their cases before a panel. Unless otherwise ordered, all hearings are public. The word ‘hearing’ can also be used a generic label to describe the whole of a proceeding.
Interlocutory Suspension or Restriction or Interloc
An interlocutory suspension or restriction order is an interim measure that can be taken before the start of proceedings leading to a hearing on the merits of the case. The effect of the order is to either suspend a licensee’s licence or to place restrictions on their practice. Usually interlocutory orders are made when significant risk of harm to the public, or to the public interest in the administration of justice, is proven. These suspensions last only until the decision of the panel who hears the merits of the case, at which point the suspension can be either overturned or extended.
Invitation To Attend (ITA)
A conduct hearing can sometimes be converted to an invitation to attend, or ITA, if the panel finds that the misconduct is minor enough that it doesn’t warrant a formal penalty. The invitation to attend allows the panel to discuss the conduct in question with the licensee and dismiss the application instead of making a penalty order. The Proceedings Authorization Committee (PAC) can issue an invitation to attend instead of referring a proceeding to the Tribunal, and so in most cases, for the Tribunal to convert a proceeding to an invitation to attend, the alleged misconduct must have lessened between the date that PAC referred the case and the date of the hearing, for example if part of the allegations were withdrawn.
Parties may agree on a finding of misconduct and a proposed penalty, which saves time and money for the panel and the parties. This is called a joint submission. The panel may reject the joint penalty submission if it finds the proposed penalty contrary to public policy.
Law Society Act or the Act
The Law Society Act, or “the Act”, is legislation passed by the Ontario Legislature which explains the Law Society’s regulation of the legal professions. Part II of the Act is especially relevant, in that it includes rules about how the Tribunal functions.
Law Society of Ontario or LSO
The Law Society of Ontario is the provincial body charged with governing the legal profession and regulating the conduct of lawyers and paralegals in Ontario. Prior to 2018, the Law Society of Ontario was referred to as the Law Society of Upper Canada.
A licensee is a person who is licensed by the Law Society of Ontario to practise law (a lawyer) or provide legal services (a paralegal) in Ontario
A motion is a process used before, during or after a proceeding to make a request to an adjudicator for an order. Two common examples are a motion to stay, which requests a stay order, and a motion to adjourn, which requests an order to adjourn.
Notice or Regulatory Notice
This is the initial document that begins the Tribunal’s process. This could be a notice of application (in conduct proceedings, for instance), a notice of motion for interlocutory suspension, a notice of appeal, or a notice of referral for hearing (in licensing proceedings). Notices are posted on the Tribunal website, and then removed when the final order in the proceeding is made.
On Consent or By Consent
When something is done on consent, it is done by, with or based on the agreement of all the parties involved in a proceeding.
Ontario Court of Justice
The Ontario Court of Justice hears criminal and Provincial Offences Act prosecutions, Provincial Offences Act appeals, and, in areas where the Family Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice does not exist, the court also hears family cases other than cases that contain claims for divorce or division of property.
Order or Decision
An order is a Tribunal direction requiring a party to do something or refrain from doing something. An order may, for example, direct that a licensee surrender their licence or provide that a licence applicant is of good character and therefore eligible for a licence, that the Law Society pay costs, or that a licensee or licence applicant attend additional professional development courses. Orders can be made as a result of motions during a hearing as well as at the end of a hearing. They can be reserved, along with reasons, to give the panel a chance to deliberate amongst themselves. They may also be made at the end of a hearing, with reasons to follow. Unless ordered otherwise, all Tribunal orders are public, and those that affect the status of a licensee or licence applicant are published on our website.
One of the people or organizations participating in the proceedings as either the applicant/appellant or the respondent.
Panels are made up of adjudicators who hear and decide cases at the Law Society Tribunal. Hearing panels are made up of one, three, or five adjudicators; appeal panels are made up of three or five adjudicators.
A penalty may be ordered if the panel finds that a licensee has engaged in misconduct, including by contravening the Rules of Professional Conduct or the Paralegal Rules of Conduct or the By-Laws. Possible penalties include, for example, reprimands, practice restrictions, suspensions, fines, permission to surrender one’s licence, revocation, or some combination of those.
Practice Directions and Guides
The Tribunal publishes practice directions and guides on its website that provide practical assistance and guidance in various areas of Tribunal practice.
Proceeding Management Conference (PMC)
Proceeding Management Conferences, or PMCs, are held by a single adjudicator (usually the Chair of the Tribunal) and are used to manage cases as they move toward a hearing. All parties and their representative (if they are represented) must participate in any scheduled PMC. PMCs can result in scheduling a further PMC, scheduling a Pre-Hearing Conference (PHC), scheduling or adjourning a hearing, or directions being given by the panelist. PMCs are ordinarily held by videoconference. At the end of the PMC, the panelist will note the results of the conference in an endorsement.
Pre-Hearing Conference (PHC)
Pre-Hearing Conferences, or PHCs, are held by a single adjudicator, and are used to identify, limit, simplify, or attempt to settle some or all of the issues of the proceeding. PHCs are useful in identifying and limiting evidence and witnesses, exploring the possibility of an agreed statement of facts and as an opportunity for the adjudicator to provide general directions to the parties regarding the content of their cases. At the PHC, dates can be set for another PHC, the hearing or a PMC. PHCs are usually held by videoconference. At the end of the PHC, the panelist will note the results of the conference in an endorsement.
Proceeding, Case, Matter or Application
These are generic labels used to describe a particular Tribunal file as it proceeds from its initial stage after the filing of a notice through proceeding management conferences and pre-hearing conferences to the hearing, and finally to the findings and decision stage.
Proceedings Authorization Committee (PAC)
Before a notice is issued, most matters go through the Proceedings Authorization Committee, which is a committee of Law Society benchers who decide whether further action in the matter is warranted. If PAC authorizes disciplinary proceedings, a notice is issued and the Tribunal proceeding begins. PAC’s meetings are not public, and a matter only becomes public if and when the committee decides to authorize disciplinary proceedings.
Reasons or Reasons for Decision
Reasons are the explanation, written or spoken by a panel member and approved by all other panel members, for the panel’s order. Reasons may be delivered orally, at the end of a hearing or the hearing of a motion, or they may be reserved, giving the panel a chance to deliberate. The Law Society Tribunal issues written or oral reasons in most, but not all cases. Published reasons are available on the Canadian Legal Information Institute website (www.canlii.org).
A reprimand is the least severe form of penalty given by the Law Society Tribunal. The reprimand is given by the hearing panel, and details what was inappropriate about the licensee’s conduct.
Reprimands are public. Written reprimands become part of the record of proceeding for the file.
Request to Admit (RTA)
A request to admit is a set of written facts that one party intends to use to make their case. The RTA is sent to the other party at least 30 days before the hearing. If the recipient of the RTA doesn’t respond within the time set out in Rule 11.3(2), they are deemed to have accepted the truth of those facts, for the purposes of the proceeding, allowing a panel to rely on them in making its decision, without the need for those facts to be proven. An RTA can be used to expedite a hearing when a licensee is not participating or when a licensee prefers not to admit, but also not contest, the facts.
This is the party who is the subject of the notice, and who will respond to the notice by defending their position before the Tribunal. In conduct, capacity, non-compliance or interlocutory suspension proceedings (among others), the licensee is the respondent. In licensing proceedings, the Law Society is the respondent. In appeals, the Law Society, the licensee or the licence applicant can be the respondent.
Rules of Practice and Procedure or the Rules
The Rules of Practice and Procedure, which are approved by Convocation, outline the Law Society Tribunal’s processes. They include forms for filing with the Tribunal.
Rules of Professional Conduct and Paralegal Rules of Conduct
These two sets of rules detail the Law Society’s expectations regarding lawyer and paralegal conduct. These are rules that, if violated, constitute professional misconduct.
A stay is an order suspending an order or a proceeding. Stay motions are often filed when a party is appealing an order in a proceeding, so that the order does not need to be followed until the decision can be reviewed by an appeal panel.
A summary hearing is a short conduct hearing before a single panel member. Summary hearings deal with various types of less serious allegations, most frequently failure to respond promptly and completely to the Law Society, practising while suspended and failure to properly maintain books and records. Summary matters reach the hearing stage more quickly than other proceedings, as the hearing date (instead of a PMC) is scheduled when the notice of application is served.
A summons to witness is a document requiring a person to attend a hearing. Delivery of a summons to a witness is the responsibility of the party who wants the person to be there. Once a summons has been delivered, the witness is legally obliged to attend the hearing.
Superior Court of Justice
The Superior Court of Justice hears criminal prosecutions of indictable offences, summary conviction appeals, bail reviews, estates, civil suits (over $25,000), and, where the Family Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice does not exist, the court also hears family cases other than child protection, secure treatment, adoption cases and appeals of child protection cases.
Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada is Canada’s final court of appeal. It hears appeals from provincial and territorial courts of appeal and from the Federal Court of Appeal.
Withdrawal means to discontinue or abandon a case or part of a case. Withdrawals are obtained by filing a notice of withdrawal.
Some hearings, or motions within hearings, can be held by written submission, meaning that parties write out their arguments and send them to the panel. Written submissions are only used when the facts of the case are not contested.