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Information Sheet for Subjects of a Good Character Investigation

If you answered yes to one or more of the good character questions

If you answered yes to one or more of the good character questions, your application is initially reviewed in the Complaints & Compliance department of the Law Society’s Client Service Centre. That department reviews the details provided by the applicant, including any supporting documents, on a case-by-case basis, considering factors such as the nature of the issue disclosed, the number of occurrences, and the time period over which the issue occurred. The Complaints & Compliance department determines whether the issues disclosed are sufficiently serious to warrant further review in the Professional Regulation Division.

  • If your application is transferred to the Professional Regulation Division
    If you application is transferred to the Professional Regulation Division, it is reviewed in the Intake & Resolution department where any good character issue is either:
    • “cleared” on the basis that the issues disclosed do not require additional review and are not sufficiently serious so as to require investigation of the applicant’s character;
    • resolved by requesting additional information or clarification that allows the issue to be cleared; or
    • referred to the Investigations department for further review. 
  • If your application is referred to Investigations
    If your application is referred to the Investigations department, you will be notified in writing and provided with an explanation for the investigation. If the good character investigation was initiated based on information from a source other than yourself, you will be provided with details of that information. You may provide additional information or explanation with respect to the issue or allegations, may be asked for additional specified documents, and may be asked to provide character references.
     
  • Documents in Support of Good Character Responses
    Below is a list of documents that will assist the Law Society in the review of your application with respect to any affirmative answers to one or more of the good character questions. This list is intended to act as a reference guide only.
     

    Good Character Questions

    Supporting Documents

     

    • Have you ever been found guilty of, or convicted of, any offence under any statute?
    • Are you currently the subject of criminal proceedings?

     

     

     

    • A certified copy of:
      • The police Information Form, Indictment or any other charging document (typically available from the Court Clerk where your matter was heard)
      • Any judicial interim release, promise to appear, undertaking or recognizance of bail form, if applicable
    • All judgments, orders and reasons for decision made by the Court (available from the Court Clerk where your matter was heard)
    • Disclosure (evidence provided by the prosecution in accordance with its obligations), if available
    • Police report(s), if available
    • Pre-sentencing or Pre-disposition Report, if applicable
    • Pardons, if applicable
    • Criminal Records Check

     

    • Has judgment ever been entered against you in an action involving fraud?
    • Are there any outstanding civil judgments against you?

     

    • Have you ever disobeyed any order of any court requiring you to do any act or to abstain from doing any act?

     

    Pleadings, including:
    • Statement of Claim
    • Statement of Defence
    • Third Party Claim
    • Counterclaim
    • Cross-Claim
    • All judgments, orders and reasons for decision made by the court, including costs orders

     

    • Have you ever been discharged from any employment where the employer alleged there was cause?

     

     

    • Termination letter or discharge documentation from your employer
    • Record of Employment (ROE) issued by Service Canada
    • Any investigation report or other report prepared by or for your employer in relation to your conduct, if applicable

     

    • Have you ever been suspended, disqualified, censured or otherwise disciplined as a member of any professional organization?
    • Have you ever been denied a licence or permit, or had any licence or permit revoked for failure to meet good character requirements?

     

    • Have you ever been refused admission as an applicant or member of any professional body?
    • Certificate of Good Standing from the professional organization
    • Complaint, if any
    • Discipline Decision, if any
    • Notice of suspension, disqualification, censure or other discipline disposition
    • Decision to deny or revoke the licence or permit
    • Decision to refuse admission
    • While attending a post-secondary institution, have allegations of misconduct ever been made against you, or, have you ever been suspended, expelled or penalized by a post-secondary institution for misconduct?

     

     

    • Complaint, if any
    • Decision to suspend, expel or penalize you
    • Notice of decision to suspend, expel or penalize you
    • Certificate of Academic Standing (official document obtained from the Registrar of the educational institution noting misconduct and/or penalty)
    • Are you currently subject to a petition or assignment in bankruptcy or a proposal to creditors under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, or have you ever been bankrupt or insolvent, under any statute?

     

    • Notice of “Trustee in Bankruptcy”
    • Notice of Discharge
    • Conditional Discharge, if applicable

     

    • Have you ever been disciplined by an employer, or been a respondent in proceedings in relation to a violation of any human rights legislation?

     

     

    • Any investigation report or other report prepared by or for your employer in relation to your conduct, if applicable
    • Any warning letter, conduct letter, or memo to file setting out the circumstances of the discipline
    • All pleadings in relation to human rights proceedings (such as Application, Response, and Reply)
    • All judgments, orders, and reasons for decision made by a court or tribunal in relation to your conduct
    • Signed consent to permit the employer / former employer to provide the discipline or proceeding documents to the Law Society directly
    • Have you ever been sanctioned or had a penalty imposed upon you by a court, an administrative tribunal or a regulatory body?

     

     

    • All pleadings (such as Statement of Claim, Statement of Defence, Application, Response, and Reply)
    • All judgments, orders and reasons for decision made by the court, tribunal or regulatory body
  • Why it is important to respond to the investigator
    If you fail to respond to the correspondence from the Law Society about your good character issue, or fail to provide the documents or information requested by the investigator assigned to your file within the specified time period, your licensing application may be deemed to be abandoned. You will not be able to submit another application unless you are able to demonstrate a material change in circumstances and only after a period of one year after the date that your application was deemed abandoned.[1]
     

    [1] Subsection 8(3) of the Law Society’s By-law 4 requires that an applicant provide all documents and information specified in the licensing application relating to the requirement that an applicant be of good character, and all additional documents and information specified by the Law Society within the timeframe specified by the Law Society. whether the good character issue(s) should be cleared and the application returned to the licensing process.
     
  • Legal representation
    Although it is not required, you may retain a legal representative to assist you when you are the subject of a good character investigation.

    If you do hire legal representation, you or your representative must still must respond promptly to the Law Society’s requests for information and must continue to co-operate with the investigation.
     
  • Good character hearings

    Pursuant to section 27(4) of the Law Society Act, an application for a licence may only be refused after a hearing by the Hearing Division of the Law Society Tribunal. Therefore, at the conclusion of the investigation, a determination will be made about whether your licensing application should be referred to a hearing, or

    The decision about how to proceed with your application is made on a case-by-case basis. However, the Investigations department will consider:

    1. The facts revealed by the investigation;
    2. Whether the Law Society can prove the conduct in issue; and
    3. Whether it is in the public interest to hold a hearing to further explore the issue.

     

  • Only a very small percentage of licensing applications proceed to a hearing.

    At the hearing, the Law Society has the initial burden of proving that the disclosed or alleged conduct brings the applicant’s character into question. The burden then shifts to the applicant to prove that the applicant is of good character.

    In considering an applicant’s character, the Hearing Panel will consider factors including:

    1. The nature and the duration of the misconduct;
    2. Whether the applicant is remorseful;
    3. What rehabilitative efforts, if any, have been taken, and the success of such efforts;
    4. The applicant’s conduct since the misconduct; and
    5. The passage of time since the misconduct.
    Ultimately, the Hearing Division will issue a written order determining whether the applicant is of good character and therefore eligible for a licence. Tribunal decisions are subject to typical appeal routes. Past good character hearing are available on CanLII.
     
  • Timelines
    The length of time it takes to investigate an applicant’s character depends on the nature and the complexity of the issue disclosed or alleged. Staff involved in the good character review process are aware of licensing dates and schedules, and every effort is made to ensure that an applicant’s licensing is not delayed or postponed. Responding promptly and completely to any requests from Law Society staff for information or documents will help an applicant’s licensing process to continue on schedule.
  • Assistance
    Many applicants are seriously concerned when they learn that they are the subject of a good character investigation. It may help to discuss the investigation and your response to it with a partner, colleague or other trusted advisor.

    You may also wish to seek formal advice from another lawyer or paralegal.

    Applicants experiencing a professional or personal crisis may access the Member Assistance Program (MAP) for a full range of professional, confidential services. These include 24/7/365 live access to counselling, consultation and resources, work-life balance solutions, as well as an expanded counsellor network in Ontario and nationally. Counsellors are registered professionals with a minimum of a master’s degree and an average of 15 years of clinical experience.

    Counselling is available in person, by telephone or online. For further information, contact Homewood Health.
     
  • Duty Counsel Programs
    If a hearing is required with respect to your character, you are entitled to be present at the hearing with or without a representative. The Advocates’ Society runs a program that provides for pro bono duty counsel for unrepresented applicants at hearings before Hearing Panels.

    Before the Hearing Panel, duty counsel may provide limited services (e.g., with respect to adjournments).