Law Times

June 27, 2016

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S ome participants in a new Law So- ciety of Upper Canada report say public confidence in the legal pro- fession is being hurt by advertising for personal injury law — a finding those in the field say is abundantly obvious. The Advertising and Fee Arrange- ments Issues Working Group Report un- veiled at June Convocation says: "in per- sonal injury law, some firms are under- stood to heavily advertise both to attract work that they can take on themselves and to attract clients who could be referred to other personal injury lawyers in exchange for referral fees. "Most participants accepted that ad- vertising is here to stay, although some would seek to ban it outright on the claim it has led to the commoditization of per- sonal injury and other practice areas, eroded the public perception of lawyers, and threatens the administration of jus- tice," the report continues. The report says in many cases when clients are referred to a personal injury lawyer by a firm that is advertising, they are not "sufficiently aware" of the circum- stances of the referral. While the Law Society of Upper Cana- da's Rules of Professional conduct require disclosure and client consent, a working group found that clients do not always know about the existence of referral fees or that they are even being referred to an- other lawyer. "It should be clear when licensees are advertising that they are soliciting work that they propose to do," Malcolm Mer- cer, the chairman of the working group, told Convocation in its June meeting. "That may sound like a silly, straight- forward proposition, but it has become clear there is much solicitation for work that is not intended to be done but in- tended to be referred to others in the fee." The interim report was issued by the advertising and referral fee arrangement issues working group, which has been tasked with looking at how the law soci- ety should further regulate advertising and referral fees. The report was based on concerns and issues that came out of meetings the working group held with various stake- holders, since a call to input was made last year. The report outlines a number of op- tions to deal with the problem. One option would be to require firms to disclose the fact that they intend to re- fer the services they are advertising. An- other would be to simply ban advertising for work that they intend to be referred. Mercer said that all of these ideas are Delivery modernized but more progress needed BY ALEX ROBINSON Law Times N ew legislative amend- ments will bring the de- livery of franchise dis- closure documents into the 21st century, lawyers say. Changes to the Arthur Wishart Act, set to come into effect on July 1, will allow for the documents to be sent electronically or by courier. Currently, disclosure documents can be delivered to franchisees only by registered mail or in person. Franchise lawyers say the changes will make things easier for them when asked to create, pro- cess, and send the documents on behalf of franchisors. "Ontario was in the woods. It wasn't in the modern world when it came to the delivery of disclo- sure documents, and now it will be," says Edward Levitt, a fran- chise lawyer at Dickinson Wright LLP, who represents both franchi- sors and franchisees. Franchise disclosure documents, which are sent from franchisors to franchisees and contain all required documentation for a new business franchise, are often hefty docu- ments with hundreds of pages. The amendments will offer a digitized method of delivery in a system in need of modernization, lawyers say. "In a sense, it will allow for it to be delivered more efficiently and cheaply," says Debi Sutin of Gowl- ing WLG (Canada) LLP. "We don't have to print out the document if it's going to be deliv- ered electronically and it allows a prospective franchisee to view the disclosure document on the com- puter without having to print it out." The Arthur Wishart Act was passed in 2000 and regulates fran- chise disclosure. The amendments seek to har- monize Ontario's legislation on franchise disclosure documents with that of other provinces such as Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Manitoba, where the documents can already be sent electronically. FORFEITURE DENIED Judge slams application to seize money P3 INDIGENOUS SPECIALTY Law society debuts new certification P4 FOCUS ON Municipal & Planning Law P8 See Need, page 2 See Advertising, page 2 PM #40762529 $5.00 • Vol. 27, No.22 June 27, 2016 L AW TIMES C O V E R I N G O N T A R I O ' S L E G A L S C E N E • W W W . L A W T I M E S N E W S . C O M Deanna Gilbert supports a ban on advertising personal injury legal services. Photo: Robin Kuniski & $#&!&jmmm$cYa[bbWh$Yec ntitled-4 1 12-03-20 10:44 AM When you're working, we're working. End-To-End Legal Marketing Solutions. Visit Untitled-6 1 2016-06-21 10:03 AM Debi Sutin says new rules around the delivery of franchise disclosure documents will lead to increased efficiency. Follow LAW TIMES on LSUC zeroes in on personal injury advertising BY ALEX ROBINSON Law Times

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