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Should you complain about your spouse's lawyer to the Law Society of Ontario?



Lawyers are in Ontario are bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct of the Law Society of Ontario. These rules are designed to protect the public and ensure that lawyers meet basic standards of professionalism.When a lawyer's service is not satisfactory, a client may complain to the Law Society of Ontario. The Law Society will investigate the complaint and, if necessary, require the lawyer to attend a disciplinary hearing. 


In family law, it is all too common for self-represented parties to complain to the Law Society about their spouse's lawyer. This is often done in order to prevent the spouse's lawyer from advocating forcefully for his or her client. In other words, the complaint is brought for strategic purposes. 


A recent Ontario case, Scipione v. Scipione, addresses the problem of self-represented parties making complaints about the other side's lawyer. In his reasons Justice Pazaratz notes the following: 


"Lawyers practising family law face a particularly difficult, hostile and accusatory environment . . .Malicious or reckless personal attacks against a spouse’s lawyer must be discouraged. . .Such complaints cost virtually nothing to file.  And yet they can create enormous financial and emotional headaches for lawyers who have to spend significant time responding to attacks on their reputation and potentially their livelihood. . ."​


Baseless complaints against the other side's lawyer can result in cost consequences. In Scipione v. Scipione, the judge considered the husband's baseless complaint to the law society in awarding costs against the husband.