If you're not a lawyer, you cannot represent someone else in Ontario Courts

Sometimes you just can’t fix stupid. I’ll double down on that statement and say all the time you cannot fix a fraudster.

Recently, our firm was contacted by an individual who was convicted of fraud while he was a Chartered Accountant and expelled from membership as a CA because of that fraud. This individual attempted to represent a company in a litigation. Wow. I guess committing fraud as a CA wasn’t enough, the individual needed to try to practice law without a licence.

Leaving aside the fraud, an accountant cannot represent a party to a lawsuit in Ontario. The only professionals who can represent parties are:

1. licensed paralegals, in Small Claims Court and other specific areas;
2. licensed lawyers, who can represent clients in all areas of Law.

An individual (not a company) can represent themselves in all areas of Law in Ontario. However, if a corporation is sued, it must obtain permission from the Court to represent itself and this is not always granted, particularly if the individual seeking to represent the corporation is unprofessional in dealings with the Court and/or the other side.

I recently read a statement, though cannot remember where, that said “if you think professionals are expensive, wait until you hire an amateur.” This is very true in litigation where paralegals and lawyers know the process and know how to handle speak to issues before the Court and Tribunals. An amateur will not and that can get very expensive in terms of judgments and cost orders that could be awarded against you.

Inga B. Andriessen JD
iandriessen@staging.andriessen.ca

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