Paralegals Appearing As Agents On Indictable Offences When a Paralegal May Appear in Court for Serious Criminal Case ProceedingsUnderstanding When Paralegals Are Permitted to Appear At Indictable Process Criminal Court Matters

Generally, paralegals are limited to providing representation on Criminal Code of Canada, R.S.C.  1985, c.  C-46 matters known as summary procedure charges where the maximum penalty is five thousand ($5,000.00) dollars and/or up to six months incarceration.  Other matters, such as summary procedure charges with greater penalties, commonly referred to within the legal community as 'super' summary charges as well as the most serious of criminal matters, known as indictable charges, are out of scope of service for a paralegal; however, at various procedural hearings of an indictable offence matter within the Ontario Court of Justice, such as a remand hearing, a paralegal may appear as agent acting under the direction of the representing lawyer per R.  v. G.Y.L.2009 CanLII 38516 where it was said:

[9]  In R.  v. Golyanik, (2003) CanLII 64228 (Ont.  S.C.), Trafford J.  held that articling students could attend in the Ontario Court of Justice pursuant to a designation for the purpose of routine remands for indictable offences.  In his carefully reasoned decision, he held that in the context of s.  650.01, the definition of “counsel” includes articled students-at-law and embraces a counsel’s law firm.  He held that articling students could appear pursuant to a designation on remands for indictable matters in the Ontario Court of Justice.  He did not rule on the issue of the status of paralegals in the same circumstances, because the issue was not before him.

[10]  Trafford J.  rooted his reasoning in the modern approach to statutory construction, with its emphasis on contextual and purposive interpretation.  In my view, the same reasoning applies to this case.

[11]  Paralegals are now governed by the Law Society.  They are trained professionals subject to similar if not identical standards of ethics and civility as are lawyers and students-at-law.  Properly regulated, they make a significant contribution to the administration of justice.  Interpreting s.  650.01 in a way that prevents them from attending court in cases like this one would impede rather than enhance the proper and efficient administration of justice.  If the purpose of s.  650.01 is to be respected, the definition of counsel demands a broad interpretation that encompasses paralegals and lets them appear in the Ontario Court of Justice on indictable matters pursuant to a proper designation.

Summary Comment

Accordingly, it appears clear that for criminal matters proceeding as indictable offences within the Ontario Court of Justice, paralegals may appear as agents acting on behalf of the representing lawyer.

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