The Benchers of the Law Society of BC have adopted a new “abeyance policy” for disciplinary proceedings. The policy is set out in Appendix 4 of the Benchers Governance Policies. The Law Society posted the following news item explaining the policy:
The policy covers a situation in which a lawyer who is being investigated may request that the Discipline Committee hold the matter in abeyance because of proceedings in another forum, usually civil or criminal litigation. The lawyer may provide the Law Society with protective undertakings, conditional on the society’s decision to grant the abeyance. The Law Society always retains the discretion to end an abeyance unilaterally at any point and to proceed immediately with its investigation.
Appendix 4 explains further that the policy does not address just any decision to wait but, rather,
describes a very specific kind of arrangement between the lawyer who requests it and the Discipline Committee who grants it. A lawyer subject to an investigation may make written request to the Discipline Committee to have the matter held in abeyance because of relevant proceedings pending or ongoing in another forum. To date, abeyances have been agreements wherein the lawyer subject to investigation provides the Law Society with protective undertakings, conditional upon the Law Society’s decision to grant the abeyance. The Law Society always retains the discretion to end an abeyance unilaterally at any point and to proceed immediately with its investigation.