Door-to-door sales, debt settlement services, real estate transactions, and real estate fees and commissions have been updated, with the Nov. 27 passage of Bill 55 — the “Stronger Protection for Ontario Consumers Act 2013.”
Despite a campaign to have paralegals exempted from Collection Agencies Act restrictions, the regulations remain the same.
Kitchener paralegal Lee-Anne Gadd (OMGadd Legal Services) had urged paralegals to contact committee members about exempting paralegals, while they reviewed the former Bill 55. An exemption would have eliminated the need to register before taking on collections work.
“The committee needs to be aware how this will affect our clients in small claims, too,” Gadd said in September.
Register or Risk Licence
Paralegals are not authorized to make collections on behalf of their clients unless they register under the Collection Agencies Act. Paralegals who send demand letters or make telephone calls to debtors, are at risk of being prosecuted for acting as a collection agency without a licence.
Lawyers are exempted under the Act; they can provide those services without separate registration.
Ken Mitchell, Paralegal Standing Committee (PSC) member, noted that two circumstances in particular require a paralegal to be licensed under the Collection Agencies Act: when it would be advantageous to include additional creditors in a global resolution initiated by only one creditor, and when a debtor wants to proactively settle an anticipated action.
Debt Settlement Services Regulated
Schedule 1 to the new Act amends the Collection Agencies Act. It regulates debt settlement services, including undertaking to act for the debtor with the debtor’s creditors, or receiving money from a debtor, for distribution among creditors.
The legislation amends the Collection Agencies Act R.S.O. 1990, Consumer Protection Act, 2002, and the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002, and make consequential amendments to other Acts.
Read the Act and learn more, at the Legislative Assembly page.