A Victoria man was barred from practising law after a Supreme Court of B.C. justice determined he was a “non-lawyer” and therefore his clients were not protected under the Legal Profession Act.
In a judgment posted online on Thursday, Justice Palbinder Shergill ordered Jeremy Maddock, a self-employed legal consultant, to be permanently prohibited from practicing law until he becomes a member in good standing of the Law Society of British Columbia after they received numerous complaints about his actions.
Prior to the order, Maddock would provide legal research services to lawyers, draft legal documents and arguments, along with attending court on traffic violations offences. Maddock received a law degree from the University of Victoria in 2016 but never completed full articling.
In 2017 and 2018 the Law Society received numerous complaints that Maddock was performing legal services for clients in Victoria and Vancouver.
During the Vancouver case in 2018, Maddock was representing Ali Yusuf, a practicing lawyer who was unsuccessful in representing himself on a traffic violation. Maddock believed that being under the supervision of a practicing lawyer would therefore protect him from violating the Legal Profession Act, despite charging a fee for the services. Justice Shergill determined Yusuf was Maddock’s client.
Following the Yusuf case, the Law Society informed Maddock they believed his actions to be in contravene of the Legal Profession Act. He didn’t respond to the Law Society’s notification, and instead filed the current action, which took place in November of 2018, seeking declaratory relief.
In April of 2019, the Law Society filed its own appeal seeking an injunction to restrain Maddock from practicing the law.
Maddock argued that under the Offence Act, he was entitled to appear as ‘agent’ in non-criminal, provincial traffic matters for a fee. Shergill stated that Maddock was not the first to argue this, citing a company that was subject to a number of lawsuits in the 1980s. Former police officers were found to be in contravention of the Legal Profession Act by the Court of Appeal for charging a fee for legal advice and representation of people facing non-criminal, motor vehicle-related offences.
Shergill stated that she had “reason to believe” Maddock would continue to practice law “unless he is restrained by a court order.”
Maddock also argued that “access to justice” justified his breaches of the Legal Profession Act, but “the solution … is not to permit untrained, unregulated and unaccountable individuals to act as legal counsel,” read the judgment.
“In drafting the provisions of the [Legal Professions Act], they were no doubt aware that a non-lawyer may have the skills and technical knowledge to provide legal services to members of the public for free or at a reduced rate,” wrote Justice Shergill. “Nonetheless, they determined it would be against the public interest to permit that person to freely do so without regulatory oversight.”
Justice Shergill added that Maddock was not required to meet “minimum competency requirements,” engage in continuing professional development or comply with the codes of conduct hence he was not subject to disciplinary actions and his clients did not have solicitor-client privilege.