The Law Society adopts new Rules to protect the Public from Misleading Advertising and Fee Practices
In response to increasing concerns and complaints about misleading advertising of lawyer services, in February 2016, the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) established the Advertising and Fee Issues Working Group to collect information, investigate complaints and consider potential regulatory responses to inappropriate practices. " A key objective of this initiative is" to make amendments to the rules of professional conduct that will ensure advertising and fee practices, including referral and contingency fee practices, are accurate, transparent, consensual and in the interests of the public. The three most important recommendations that stemmed from the Working Group investigation are:
- Referral fees should be capped;
- Second opinion ads are to be immediately prohibited.
- Lawyers are not permitted to" advertise for work that they do not intend to keep.
- Advertising for legal services with the intent to refer potential clients to other lawyers and obtain referral fees for said referrals.
- Advertising awards and endorsements that are misleading and/or not objectively verifiable.
- Lack of clarity with respect to 'all-in' pricing for legal services.
- Lack of transparency in the charging of contingent and referral fees.
- Referral fees that are disproportionate, both when charged 'upfront' and when a percentage of the result in a contingency fee situation.
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