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Clients who have money stolen by dishonest lawyers in Ontario can now be compensated by the Law Society of Upper Canada for up to $500,000 – a dramatic increase over the previous limit of $150,000. It is the first increase the regulatory body has made in the compensation limit since 2008. It was approved by members of convocation, the law society’s board of directors, at their sept. 22 meeting. The new policy is not retroactive.
Majority stays under previous limit
Carol Hartman, chair of the Law Society’s five-member compensation fund committee predicted that the vast majority of claims will continue to be under the previous limit of $150,000. According to LSUC statistics, the average claim related to the lawyers’ fund over the past five years has been $101,000, and an average of $5,800 for paralegal claims.
Honest lawyers paying for fraudsters
Not all lawyers are delighted by the increase. “We are all for victims of fraud perpetrated by lawyers obtaining a recovery, but we have concerns about using LUSC membership dues of honest lawyers to pay for this,” said lawyer Norman Groot (Investigation Counsel PC). “We would hope that all assets of the fraudster lawyer are seized, frozen or otherwise forfeited by one means or another before honest lawyers are paying for the sins of those being disbarred.”
Read the more about the increased compensation in The Lawyers Weekly, Oct. 21, 2016 issue.