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Analysis of the Ritchie John Noel v. Law Society of Upper Canada Case Brief

Analysis of the Ritchie John Noel v. Law Society of Upper Canada Case Brief

Ritchie John Noel v. Law Society of Upper Canada, 2009 ONLSHP 0036


The case is an application for a Class license P1 that was granted after a hearing, determining the good character of a paralegal convicted for criminal offenses. The determining panel was satisfied that the applicant had demonstrated good character.

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The applicant is 42 of age, a paralegal who has resided in North Western Ontario for the most of his life. The applicant graduated from the Confederation College in 1987. However, he was not satisfied with the career opportunities in the airport management course he got employed at a Pulp Mill in Dryden. At the age of 22, he got an accident that caused serious injuries and the death of another person. He was then charged with manslaughter and later released on bail. Additional charges included failure to comply with the curfew and alcohol rules, he pleaded guilty to both charges and was sentenced to 36 months imprisonment. Four months of the jail term were spent at Kenora and seven months at Stony Mountain in Manitoba. The applicant was granted parole and lived at halfway house Kenora. It was while at Stony Mountain that he attended drug and rehabilitation programs. During the hearing, the applicant stated that he attended the hearing because he wanted to get out of prison and wanted to be seen to be participating and was not were of his addiction issues. After his release from prison, he was employed as a trucker then took a Long Haul course and worked as a hauler. He then had an accident that resulted in his addiction to painkillers. He admitted that he worked in the medical system to obtain prescription painkillers.

In 2000, he got into an argument with the ex-husband of his then girlfriend; he was under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The applicant was charged with uttering threats and was released and asked not to associate directly or indirectly with the ex-husband. Later he was in the same bar as the ex-husband, the ex-husband then reported that the applicant had spoken to him, and the applicant was charged for failure to comply with his recognizance. He pleaded guilty and was given 30-day conditional sentence and probation for four months. It was during his probation that he was charged with uttering threats to his girlfriend who he said had stolen $4,000 from him. An investigation was launched, and the police found a twelve-gauge shotgun and a rifle in the applicant’s possession. He had a certificate license for the firearms. It was, however, discovered that the firearms were improperly stored, and the applicant was charged for careless storage of firearms. He pleaded guilty for failure to comply with his probation order, improper storage of firearms and uttering threats, he was sentenced to six months conditional sentence.

Since 2000, he applicant has had no contact with the law, he met his wife who introduced him to Alcohol Anonymous (AA), and he then became an active applicant of the AA. He has not abused drugs or alcohol since 2003. A letter from the paralegal doctor explained that he has not used codeine or narcotics of substance abuse since 2003. However, the physician acknowledged that he has not tested the applicant for drugs. The applicant had also begun his paralegal practice through volunteer services.


There is only one issue before the court, which is to determine whether the applicant has demonstrated to the panel that he is of good character under the Law Society Act.


The meaning of good character under s.27 (2) of the Law Society Act.


Good character is a combination of qualities that differentiate one person from another; the character must connote ethics and unique attributes. The panel held that the applicant has demonstrated that he was of good character according to s.27 (2) of the Law Society Act.


Despite committing a series of serious crimes the applicant was punished, he lost disclosed the crimes in his application for the license has expressed remorse. According to Gavin Mackenzie, the main purpose of good character analysis is to protect the public, maintenance of high ethical standards and maintenance of public trust in the legal profession. The conduct course that the applicant took helped him overcome his addiction problems. He actively participated in the AA and had shown his commitment to drug-free life.

The applicant has given back to the community to inmates at Kenora, and high school programs. He was also part of the group that worked in the mayor’s office to prevent drug and substance abuse. He has told his story to the community sharing how he has overcome his drug addiction and turned his life around inspiring more people to change their lifestyles.

The applicant’s quest for a license has been supported by the reference letters. The referees recognize Mr. Noels’ character change and community involvement. It is, therefore, clear that the applicant’s character meets the good character requirement as per s.27 (2) of the Law Society Act.

Part II


The Law Society hearing panel is federally governed since it created the law society of Canada. The committee panel members are chosen from the officials of the Law Society.


The Law Society Act establishes the tribunal that listens to all complaints; this means the tribunal is not under a cluster. Another authority that IS By-Law 11. To add on, once the tribunal has made a decision, only the Law Society has the powers to review it.


The duty of the tribunal is to her and determines complaints against paralegals and lawyers. Also besides, it ensures that the lawyers and paralegals have complied with the code of conduct, government legislation, and applicable by-laws. The jurisdiction of the tribunal lies with questions of ethics, service and honesty of lawyers and licensed paralegals.


No application fee is paid for someone to go before the tribunal since the tribunal mostly hears complaints from the public. The purpose of the tribunal is to restore public confidence in the legal profession. The matter is usually investigated as provided under S. 49[3] of the Law Society Act. The person may have to appear before the tribunal in person for an oral interview or make a written submission to the tribunal. When one is subject to an investigation by the tribunal, they have the choice to have legal representation. The person is however required to cooperate with the tribunal promptly despite having a legal representative (Law Society of Upper Canada).


There are several authorities that the tribunal has, for example, it can issue temporary suspensions, another is it can order the payment of fines. For complaints against lawyers and Paralegals, the tribunal has the authority to revoke their practicing licenses or ask one to surrender their license on their on accord.


The final decision is not the end of the road for the complaint. After the tribunal has made the final decision the party that is not satisfied the decision they can apply for review. The tribunal only considers the review. The tribunal may then recommend further action by the Law Society which will then give the complaint permission to respond if satisfied that the review is needed (Law Society of Upper Canada).


Access to justice is the ability to have a fair hearing, and the matter decided in a partial manner without any form of discrimination by considering evidence from both sides. To some extend the tribunal promotes justice because one of its duties is to reimburse victims who have lost their monies to lawyers and paralegals. However, the courts of law allow for appeals but the tribunal denies appeals and only allows for reviews. It is inappropriate to have the same tribunal that gave the previous decision review the decision that does not satisfy the party. I think there should be an option to appeal to the court perhaps the High Court for decisions made by the tribunal.

Additionally, justice should be offered to both sides. The tribunal should come up with alternative penalties for lawyers and paralegals. For instance, revoking one’s practicing license is very serious it means that their career comes to an end. The lawyers should be given at least two chances to redeem themselves. Redeeming chances could be, for instance, asking them to compensate the victims or offer pro-Bono services.


Ritchie John Noel v. Law Society of Upper Canada, 2009 ONLSHP 0036.

The Law Society of Upper Canada. (n.d.). Retrieved November 22, 2015, from http://www.lsuc.on.ca/index.aspx

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