Sep 21, 2020

Restricting the Activities of Suspended Members

Law Society of Alberta v Beaver, 2016 ABCA 290 (CanLII)

There has been a lot of litigation over the years regarding the authority of regulators to restrict the activities of suspended members. One of the reasons is that different statutes take different approaches to whether a suspended member is still a member of the profession. The Alberta Court of Appeal recently addressed this issue in Law Society of Alberta v Beaver, 2016 ABCA 290. Mr. Beaver was suspended by the Law Society. He continued to perform activities within the practice of law, including acting as an agent. The Law Society sought an injunction to prevent him from doing so. Mr. Beaver argued that suspended lawyers could act as agents because there was no explicit prohibition in the Act.

The Court rejected this argument. It held that such an interpretation would defeat the public protection purpose of the Act. An important factor was that suspended members remain members under this Act and the Act prevents members from acting as agents due to the risk of public confusion.

The Court also concluded that the regulator had the implied authority to restrict the activities of suspended members in this case, even if it was not expressly stated in the Act. The Court also stated that a regulator had standing to bring applications for injunctions to protect the public from unregistered practitioners and that Courts had the inherent power to grant such injunctions even if the enabling legislation did not have a restraining order provision. This case should assist regulators who have outdated enabling statutes.