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Exemption from the Annual Fee and Annual Report Submission Based on Incapacity

Applications to be emailed
Until further notice, please EMAIL completed applications for By-Law Administration Services to bylawadmin@lso.ca. For the latest updates and additional information about the Law Society’s response to COVID-19 visit its Corporate Statement about COVID-19.

Purpose

Lawyers and paralegals of the Law Society can apply to be exempt from the requirement to pay the Law Society annual fee and submit the Law Society annual report if the definition of incapacity within the meaning of s. 37 of the Law Society Act and standards set out in By-Law 5 and By-Law 8 are satisfied. It is necessary to complete an exemption application and provide all required documentation. These requirements exist to ensure that the lawyer or paralegal's practice is wound up in an orderly fashion by confirming that their files have been transferred to another lawyer or paralegal and that any trust accounts, are properly disbursed and closed (where applicable).

Who can apply

Lawyers and paralegals of any age who are not suspended and are incapacitated and unable to meet any of their obligations as a licensee.

Application requirements

  • A completed Application for Exemption from the Requirement to Pay the Annual Fee and to File the Annual Report on the Basis of Incapacity
  • Evidence that all open trust/mixed trust (and estate accounts if applicable) have been closed and have a zero balance (for applicants who were Sole Practitioners in Ontario at any time within the last 3 years from the date of their application)
  • Evidence that the applicant no longer has any signing authority over any trust/mixed trust (and estate accounts if applicable) (for applicants who were Partners/Employees/Associates of a law firm or paralegal firm in Ontario at anytime within the last 3 years from the date of their application)
  • Payment of all applicable Law Society fees and submission of all required annual filings. Licensees must pay all Law Society annual fees up to the end of the month in which the Law Society considers the application to be complete and approved for exemption.
  • An original letter from a qualified medical practitioner confirming that the applicant lawyer or paralegal is incapable of meeting any of their obligations as a licensee because of their condition is required. To assist the medical practitioner to provide sufficient information for the Law Society to determine whether the requirements of subsection 37(1) of the Law Society Act have been met, applicants may wish to provide the following sample letter to their medical practitioner.

[DATE]

To: LAW SOCIETY OF ONTARIO

Re: [PATIENT NAME] – Application to the Law Society of Ontario for an exemption from paying annual fees and filing annual reports on the basis of incapacity.

I am the treating [physician/psychologist/social worker/etc.] for [PATIENT NAME]

I have read section 37 of the Law Society Act, which states: 

37 (1) A licensee is incapacitated for the purposes of this Act if, by reason of physical or mental illness, other infirmity or addiction to or excessive use of alcohol or drugs, he or she is incapable of meeting any of his or her obligations as a licensee. 

On [date], [PATIENT NAME] was diagnosed with a(n) [choose one or more, as applicable: physical or mental illness, other infirmity, or addiction] that causes the following restrictions: [fill in relevant restrictions that relate to the practice of law or provision of legal services]. As a result of these restrictions, [PATIENT NAME] is unable to meet any of their obligations as a [lawyer/paralegal].

[PATIENT NAME] has been incapacitated on an on-going basis since [date]

[Name of Medical Practitioner]
[Professional Number]

Applicants may wish to provide this sheet to their medical practitioner to assist with the completion of their medical letter.

NOTE: Lawyers who are estate trustees or powers of attorney may apply for exemption from annual fees, but will be required to submit the Annual Report as long as they remain estate trustees or powers of attorney.

Ongoing Requirements

Lawyers and paralegals who wish to return to the practice of law or provision of legal services after being granted a formal exemption must inform the Law Society prior to their return. For exemptions based on incapacity, an original letter from a qualified medical practitioner stating that the applicant is fit to return to the practice of law or provision of legal services and capable of meeting their obligations as a licensee is required.

Limits on Practising Law and Providing Legal Services 

Lawyers who are granted an exemption from payment of the annual fee on the basis of incapacity are prohibited from practising law in Ontario as a barrister and solicitor. 

Paralegals who are granted an exemption from payment of the annual fee on any basis are prohibited from providing legal services in Ontario.

Application Process

All applications and relevant attachments are reviewed by By-Law Administration Services. If the review reveals that the application and/or attachments are not complete, a By-Law Administration Services representative will contact the applicant to request additional information or clarification or to advise of changes necessary for compliance so that the definition of incapacity within the meaning of s. 37 of the Law Society Act and standards set out in By-Law 5 and By-Law 8 are satisfied.

By-Law Administration Services requires up to 45 business days to process exemption applications. The applicant will receive a letter confirming formally that they are exempt from the requirement to pay annual fees and the requirement to submit the Law Society Annual Report.

Administrative Fees

There is no fee for the exemption application, however; all Law Society annual fees owing up to the end of the month in which the Law Society considers the application to be complete and approved for exemption must be paid in full.

Links to Application and additional information for closing your practice

Links to Applicable By-Laws

Questions

Application and Law Society Annual Report filing related questions should be directed to By-Law Administration Services by contacting the Law Society at (416) 947-3315 (toll-free 1-800-668-7380 x3315) and asking to be transferred, or emailing By-Law Administration Services using the Contact Page.

To pay annual fees contact the Membership Services department by calling the Law Society  at (416) 947-3315 (toll-free 1-800-668-7380 x3315) and asking to be transferred, or emailing Membership Services using the Contact Page.

Accessibility

The Law Society of Ontario is committed to ensuring that our websites and web applications are accessible for people with disabilities. We have also made efforts to make Law Society documents accessible to everyone. If you need any of our documents or forms in an alternate format that is accessible to you, please contact us.

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