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Withdrawal of Services

The fiduciary duty between lawyer and client dictates, among other things, that a lawyer must be loyal to his or her clients and keep the client’s information confidential. These duties trigger specific considerations when a lawyer seeks to withdrawal his or her services from a client.

Section 3.7 of the Code of Professional Conduct provides guidance with respect to withdrawing services. It starts with the premise that lawyers may not withdraw their services unless there is good cause and on notice appropriate in the circumstances (section 3.7-1). It also notes that it is inappropriate to withdraw on arbitrary or capricious grounds. Keep in mind that there may be special requirements in criminal matters (section 3.7-4) and when a lawyer leaves a firm (section 3.7-7A).

If the lawyer can withdraw from representing a client, the lawyer must comply with all applicable rules of practice, including court rules and practice. Rule 23 of the Rules of the Supreme Court, 1986 provides guidance on the topic and contains rules on how to be removed as solicitor for a party as well as how to apply for an order declaring that a lawyer for another party has ceased to be the solicitor for that party.


Change of Solicitor: rule 23 (Rules of the Supreme Court, 1986)

Withdrawal from Representation: sections 3.7-1 to 3.7-10 (Code of Professional Conduct)

Related Topics:

Disclosure of Error or Omission: section 5.1-4 commentary [1] (Code of Professional Conduct)

Criminal Activity, Duty to Withdraw at Time of Taking Information: rule 16.09 (Law Society Rules)

Duty to Withdraw: rule 16.11 (Law Society Rules)

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(Posted: June 12, 2020)