Code of Conduct Amendments
The Benchers approved amendments to the Law Society of Alberta’s Code of Conduct Rule 6.3, which addresses discrimination and harassment issues, and created new Rules 5.1-2A and 5.1-2B addressing ex parte communications and appearances.
The approved amendments and new Rules are the result of several years of extensive consultation across the country by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC), the law societies and the legal profession. The amendments to the FLSC Model Code of Professional Conduct (Model Code) were approved by FLSC Council and adopted in October 2022.
The FLSC developed the Model Code to synchronize, as much as possible, ethical and professional conduct standards for the legal profession across Canada. First implemented by FLSC Council in 2009, the Model Code has been adopted as the basis for ethical rules in 11 of 14 provincial and territorial law societies, including the Law Society of Alberta.
As an FLSC member, the Law Society of Alberta strives to ensure that the Code of Conduct largely follows the Model Code. However, the Benchers will make amendments to the Model Code and Rules as deemed appropriate for the legal profession in Alberta.
Rule 6.3: Discrimination and Harassment
The amendments to Rule 6.3 reflect current discrimination and harassment law. The commentary provides guidance on these obligations but is not intended to be an exhaustive list.
New Rules 5.1-2A and 5.1-2B: Ex Parte Communications and Appearances
The new Rules now address the issue of counsel communicating with courts and tribunals in the opposing party’s absence and without their knowledge.
In Rule 5.1-2A, lawyers must act in good faith and inform the tribunal of all material facts, including adverse facts, known to the lawyer that will enable the tribunal to make an informed decision. Rule 5.1-2B makes clear that, except where authorized by law, and subject to Rule 5.1-2A, a lawyer must not communicate with a tribunal in the absence of the opposing party or their lawyer (when they are represented) concerning any matter of substance, unless the opposing party or their lawyer has been made aware of the content of the communication or has appropriate notice of the communication.