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Amendments to the Criminal Code – Bill C-75 and Permitted Appearances by Students

Dear Law Society Members:

As you may be aware, the federal government has recently amended the Criminal Code. The amendments, set out in Bill C-75, will come into force on September 19, 2019, and will prevent law students and articling students from appearing on most summary conviction offence matters under the Criminal Code.

To date, the Criminal Code has permitted agents, including law students and articling students, to appear for accused persons on summary conviction offences carrying a maximum sentence of six (6) months. However, amendments to the Criminal Code under Bill C-75 will increase the default maximum sentence on most summary conviction offences from six (6) months to two (2) years less a day. The consequence is that, with limited exceptions, law students and articling students will no longer be permitted to appear in court as agents on most summary conviction matters.

After the amendments come into force, section 802.1 of the Criminal Code will permit agent representation in only three circumstances:

a) the defendant is an organization;
b) the defendant is appearing to request an adjournment of the proceedings; or
c) the agent is authorized to do so under a program approved — or criteria established — by the lieutenant governor in council of the province.

On July 23, 2019, the Law Society petitioned the provincial government to make an order identifying existing Law Society Rule 7.02, Permitted Appearances by Students, as a program or criteria governing the appearance of law students and articling students as agents within the meaning of s. 802.1(c) of the Criminal Code.

Please note that, absent an order of the provincial government, Law Society Rule 7.02(1)(a) will no longer apply to appearances by students in the context of summary conviction offences.
We will advise of any updates we receive from the provincial government on the matter.