LSUC Injunction Shuts Down Website

Photo: Jaybear

Photo: Jaybear

An internet site has been shut down, its owner prohibited from providing legal services, after a Superior Court judge granted a request by the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC).

The Law Society had sought a permanent injunction prohibiting John Dzelme from practising law, from providing legal services, and from holding himself out as a person who may practice law or provide legal services in Ontario. It also asked a prohibition against Mr. Dzelme, from practising law and providing legal services through his website, winningcourtstrategies.com.

Superior Court Justice Frederick Myers issued the injunction Aug. 11, finding that Dzelme had contravened section 26.1 of the Law Society Act R.S.O. 1990, c.L.8. Court relied on Subsections 1(5), (6) and (7) of the Act for guidance on the meaning of the terms “legal services,” “provision of legal services” and “representation in a proceeding.”

“… by providing draft documents to clients for use in their legal proceedings and providing clients with advice and applicable law concerning steps in the proceedings, Mr. Dzelme is “representing” his clients in those proceeding.”
Justice Myers found that Dzelme prepared documents for use in clients’ family law proceedings, gave his views as to strategies to adopt, researched and explained case law. Dzelme’s clients signed contracts that acknowledged he was not a lawyer and could not provide legal advice.

‘Intellectual Property’ or Legal Advice?

Dzelme argued that he was providing his own intellectual property to the clients for them to use “at their own risk if they choose to do so” and offered an alternative to hiring a lawyer.

Justice Myers found, however:

… just looking at Mr. Dzelme’s own documents – the emails sent by Mr. Dzelme to his clients, the services described and promised in his contracts and on his website, and the services provided as described in his invoices – it is apparent that for a fee Mr. Dzelme provides services to assist his clients in their legal proceedings… by providing draft documents to clients for use in their legal proceedings and providing clients with advice and applicable law concerning steps in the proceedings, Mr. Dzelme is “representing” his clients in those proceeding.

Further, Justice Myers noted that Dzelme had sued a client in Small Claims Court. In his Claim, he sought payment for “my consulting and legal services of her family lawsuit between her and her former husband.” In 2013, Deputy Judge Collinson held that Mr. Dzelme was claiming fees for legal services. He struck out the lawsuit because it violated the Act.

In a previous claim to recover payment for “consulting and legal services” provided to a client, the Divisional Court rejected Dzelme’s argument that he offered educational activities and support services. Divisional Court later agreed with the trial judge’s finding that Dzelme “was incapable of recovering any fee, reward and disbursement” because he was neither a lawyer nor a paralegal licensee.

Educational Videos for Family Court, Small Claims

Dzelme offered videos on topics such as how to create a compelling factum, how to appeal a judge’s final order or judgment, and how to appeal a Small Claims Court judgment in Ontario. He argued at trial that clients who provided evidence were in fee disputes with him, and had suspect motives.

From Justice Myers’ decision:

… just looking at Mr. Dzelme’s own documents – the emails sent by Mr. Dzelme to his clients, the services described and promised in his contracts and on his website, and the services provided as described in his invoices – it is apparent that for a fee Mr. Dzelme provides services to assist his clients in their legal proceedings… by providing draft documents to clients for use in their legal proceedings and providing clients with advice and applicable law concerning steps in the proceedings, Mr. Dzelme is “representing” his clients in those proceeding.

In granting the injunction, Justice Myers found that: “In my view, the public needs and is entitled to protection from Mr. Dzelme offering unlicensed legal services.”

The Law Society was granted costs of $18,000.

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