PROFESSIONAL REGULATION LAWYERS IN LONDON AND TORONTO
Lerners provides a full range of legal service to regulators and their members, including representation and advice on litigation and corporate matters. Lawyers from our Toronto and London offices work together frequently, providing our clients with a significant breadth and depth of experience and an immense pool of resources to draw from. Simply put, there are very few legal issues that our regulatory clients may be facing that the firm has not confronted.
The combined resources available through our two offices allow us to provide highly effective, practical legal advice and services, in an efficient manner, without compromising the commitment to excellent client service that we are known for. We believe that our scope of experience in varying and broad contexts, and the unique perspective we have gained as a result, distinguishes our lawyers and adds significant value to the legal advice and services we provide.
ADVOCACY AND LITIGATION
Because our lawyers have appeared before numerous regulatory bodies in various capacities, we offer an “all sides” perspective on professional regulation. We excel at anticipating the strategies of opposing counsel at every stage of the proceeding, whether at the investigation phase, during the pre-hearing, in the context of negotiating settlements, or responding effectively to evidentiary issues and objections in contested matters.
Our lawyers have represented numerous health and non-health regulators and their members in various capacities and in all manner of proceedings, including:
- We provide our regulator clients with opinions and advice in relation to investigations and inspections, including prosecutorial viability opinions for matters that may result in a referral to discipline;
- We assist our regulator clients in obtaining independent expert reports;
- We assist our member clients with responding to complaints and investigation/inspection reports;
- For matters that are referred to the Discipline Committee, we attend at pre-hearings and negotiate appropriate settlements, wherever possible;
- We regularly appear as counsel in cases of professional misconduct and incompetence before Discipline Committees, including matters involving allegations of sexual abuse, fraud, privacy breaches, competency, and ungovernability;
- We assist clients with the monitoring process used to confirm compliance with Discipline Committee Orders;
- We represent our clients at appeals before the Health Professions Appeal Board (HPARB) and at judicial reviews and appeals before the Divisional Court.
Fitness to Practice Matters
- We provide our regulator clients with advice and opinions in relation to health inquiries, including matters involving independent medical assessments;
- We have negotiated settlement documents relating to both the surrender of a member’s certificate of registration and the member’s return to practice;
- We have prosecuted cases of incapacity before Fitness to Practise Committees, including matters involving allegations of mental health and substance abuse/dependence issues;
- We assist our member clients responding to health inquiries and through the monitoring of their health condition or disorder.
Registration and Reinstatement Applications
- We advise clients on registration matters, including cases involving foreign and domestic equivalency;
- We provide advice and assistance on reinstatement applications.
Quality Assurance Proceedings
- We provide our clients with advice and opinions on all manner of quality assurance matters including inspections, practice assessments, peer reviews and preceptorships that raise issues of:
- record keeping and charting, including issues relating to Electronic Medical Records;
- treating family members;
- management of test results and making appropriate referrals;
- terminating patient or client relationships;
- client billing and audit issues;
- We assist our member clients with written responses to inspection reports and attend with them at meetings before the Quality Assurance Committee;
- We assist our member clients with fulfilling any remedial requirements.
- We have assisted our regulator clients with drafting “cease and desist” letters in cases of suspected illegal/unauthorized practice and/or “holding out”;
- We have prosecuted cases of illegal/unauthorized practice and/or title violations before the Ontario Court of Justice;
- We have assisted clients to enforce judgments for fines/costs in cases of illegal/unauthorized practice and/or “holding out”.
Other Litigation/Advocacy Matters Relating to Professional Regulation
Lawyers in our Professional Regulation Group have extensive experience appearing before and otherwise representing clients on matters before:
- the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal;
- the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner;
- the Law Society of Upper Canada Hearing and Appeals Panels;
- the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA) Investigation and Hearing panels;
- the Real Estate Council of Ontario Hearing Panel;
- the criminal courts;
- the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board;
- the Employment Standards Tribunal; and
- the Occupational Health and Safety Tribunal.
Lawyers in our specialized Appellate Advocacy Group appear routinely before all levels of appellate court and are renowned for their specialized knowledge and experience with the appeal process. We are often retained to assist counsel at the appeals stage for the express purpose of defending a decision below or raising complex constitutional issues to a higher court. Our significant expertise and success in appellate advocacy makes us exceptionally well placed to represent our regulatory clients at all levels of appeal, including matters before;
- the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board;
- the Divisional Court;
- the Ontario Court of Appeal; and
- the Supreme Court of Canada
INDEPENDENT LEGAL COUNSEL
Our litigation experience – our comfort in a hearing room and our deep knowledge of evidentiary principles – translates into the provision of exceptional service as Independent Legal Counsel. In our work as Independent Legal Counsel we have provided legal advice to committee panels and Chairs on all manner of legal issues including questions relating to jurisdiction, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, various evidentiary issues, and the rules of natural justice. We have provided our advice in pre-hearings, on motions, in contested and uncontested hearings, during reinstatement applications, and on applications to remove information from the register, including numerous matters involving unrepresented members.
We also have significant experience prosecuting and defending health and non-health professionals before the Discipline and Fitness to Practise Committees of their respective regulatory bodies. This “all sides” experience provides us with a balanced perspective on the competing interests at play in discipline and fitness to practise proceedings and reinforces our role as “independent” legal counsel, who are not pre-disposed to favour either party.
During the many years that we have served as Independent Legal Counsel to Discipline and Fitness to Practise Committees, we have provided a full range of services, including:
- attending and providing oral and written advice during hearings and motions;
- providing advice on reinstatement applications;
- providing advice to committee Chairs on both case-specific matters and general issues;
- providing written opinions to the committees on general procedural and policy issues;
- attending and providing advice during pre-hearings;
- assisting with the development of committee training schedules and meeting agendas;
- providing regular training sessions to the committees on issues including:
- principles of administrative law;
- the process leading up to referral;
- issues and steps before the hearing;
- how to preside over a pre-hearing;
- the hearing process, including live demonstrations of a mock hearing;
- key evidentiary issues;
- how to chair a hearing panel;
- motions, including live demonstrations of a mock motions;
- assessing consent agreements for fitness to practice matters; and
- drafting decisions and reasons;
- providing orientation sessions for new committee members;
- Rules of Procedure, including templates and scripts;
- resource manuals explaining key legal principles, processes and issues;
- reviewing and commenting on draft Orders and Decisions and Reasons; and
- attending committee meetings to provide legal advice on agenda items.
Advice on Governance and Related Issues
The Business Law lawyers in our Professional Regulation Group have considerable experience advising not-for-profit corporations in all aspects of corporate governance, including:
- committee implementation, structuring procedures and mandates;
- council/board functionality and accountability, including conflict of interest issues;
- directors’ and officers’ liability;
- indemnity and insurance;
- stakeholder relations;
- policy development;
- risk management;
- disclosure obligations; and
- statutory compliance.
We also attend annual and other council/board meetings as and when needed to address governance and other legal issues that might arise.
We have acted as scrutineers at elections and provided legal advice on election issues and have been invited to speak to boards/councils regarding the distinction between governance and operations.
Labour and Employment
The Employment and Labour lawyers in our Professional Regulation Group have provided employment, labour and human rights related legal advice on all manner of employment matters, both before and after termination. We regularly assist and advise clients with employment contracts, drafting and interpreting harassment and safety policies and on matters involving confidentiality issues. We also provide advice on accommodation issues arising from disability, including return to work programs and agreements. Our lawyers can assist with progressive discipline measures and can provide advice on all matters relating to termination of employment, whether negotiating the terms of termination or litigating wrongful dismissal claims.
Lerners lawyers can provide up-to-date and immediate workplace investigation reports and rebuttal reports. We have experience with investigations relating to employee performance, fiduciary duties and ethical violations, workplace harassment, sexual harassment, violence and/or bullying in the workplace, discrimination and human rights, as well as health and safety issues. Our lawyers have also handled human rights complaints, Canada Labour Code complaints, and proceedings before other employment related tribunals such as the Employment Standards Tribunal, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and the Occupational Health and Safety Tribunal.
Professional Corporations and Practices
Lerners lawyers have:
- assisted professionals with incorporating their practice;
- negotiated and draft joint venture agreements between members;
- provided advice on disputes over ownership of records; and
- assisted with issues related to re-locating clinics and practices.
Drafting/Revising Standards and Policies
We have assisted regulators and their committees with drafting and revising:
- standards and guidelines of practice;
- Rules of Procedure;
- handbooks and manuals; and
Negotiating, Drafting and Interpreting Contracts and Other Legal Instruments
We have also assisted our clients in:
- drafting and amending constating documents and by-laws;
- negotiatinge and drafting joint venture and association agreements between associations and their members;
- negotiatinge and drafting agreements with third parties including supply and service contracts.
Reviews for Statutory Compliance and Best Practice
We have conducted reviews and provided recommendations regarding opportunities for improvement in relation to statutory committees’ compliance with the regulator’s statutory objects and mandate, its regulations and by-laws, and best practices in the regulatory sector, including assessments of the committees’ processes, policies, guidelines and procedures, training, materials, composition and functions.
Lerners LLP has professional regulation lawyers in both of its Ontario offices.