Delay Tactics: Change of Counsel
During the course of a litigation, a lawyer may, for various reasons, seek to remove themselves from the record. However, at times this may be prejudicial to the other party to the litigation, especially when the request is made close to a hearing date. Can the court force a lawyer to remain on record while they wish to be removed?
According to Ontario law, a lawyer may remove themselves from the record in certain circumstances. This can be done through the process of withdrawing from a case or by seeking the permission of the court to be removed from the record.
One way that a lawyer can remove themselves from the record is by withdrawing from a case. This can occur when a lawyer no longer wishes to represent a client or if there is a conflict of interest that prevents the lawyer from continuing to represent the client. In order to withdraw from a case, the lawyer must follow the rules set out by the Law Society of Ontario and the court. This may involve providing notice to the client, the opposing party, and the court, and obtaining the court's permission to withdraw.
Alternatively, a lawyer may seek the permission of the court to be removed from the record. This can occur if the lawyer is unable to continue representing the client due to unexpected circumstances, such as illness or a change in the lawyer's personal or professional commitments. In order to be removed from the record in this manner, the lawyer must provide the court with a written request and may be required to provide additional information or documents to support their request.
In both cases, a lawyer's removal from the record may have consequences for the case, including the possibility of delays or changes to the litigation process. Therefore, it is important for a lawyer to carefully consider their decision to withdraw from a case or seek removal from the record, and to ensure that they follow the appropriate procedures and comply with any requirements set out by the Law Society of Ontario and the court.
There are several key cases that have addressed the issue of a lawyer removing themselves from the record in Ontario. For example, in the case of R v Kowkabany, the Ontario Court of Appeal held that a lawyer's withdrawal from a case must be granted by the court unless there is a "compelling reason" to deny the request. In the case of R v Jones, the Ontario Court of Justice held that a lawyer's withdrawal from a case must be "clearly justified" and cannot be used as a tactic to delay or disrupt the litigation process. These cases demonstrate the importance of following the proper procedures and demonstrating good cause when seeking to remove oneself from the record.