So-called ‘Agents’ on the Spot; Man Says Argos Discriminate Against Men

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Tribunals are a significant practice area for Ontario’s paralegals. Here are highlights from a few recent tribunal cases of interest to the profession.

    A Hamilton Landlord & Tenant Board member has suggested the Law Society of Upper Canada should look into the exemption status of an “agent” who has represented landlords at hearings.
    “It is in the public interest for anyone providing advocacy services to the public, including potentially vulnerable clients, to be licensed by the Law Society, insured, and required to observe the Rules of Conduct” ~ LSUC

    In a Dec. 29 Order (SOL-53590-14 (Re), 2014 CanLII 77457) regarding an eviction application, Jonelle Van Delft summarized her reasons for allowing “A.P.” to continue to represent the landlord, MAI. When the application came before the Board Nov. 18, 2014, Van Delft noted that the agent had an outstanding fine from an unrelated matter. This led to an interim order, to which the agent responded, providing documents suggesting that he is exempt from licensing, under Law Society’s By-Law 4.

    The Law Society deals with licensing and prescribes the persons or class of persons that are deemed to not be practicing law, providing legal services or are exempt from By-law 4, Van Delft notes. “In the application before the Board, in the absence of a coherent submission from Mr. P, I am presuming that the Landlord’s Agent believes himself to be exempt from By-law 4 because he is an officer of MAI.”

    Van Delft quotes the relevant section of the By-law:

    An in-house legal services provider is exempt from the bylaw provided “they are an individual who is employed by a single employer that is not a licensee or a licensee firm, provides the legal services only on behalf of the employer and does not provide any legal services to any person other than the employer.”

    The member found that the agent does not meet the single employer exemption because “he routinely appears before the Board for other corporations.” However, because she did not have detailed information respecting the relationship between the various corporate landlords the agent routinely represents at the Board, Van Delt wrote that she could not determine whether the agent is entitled to rely upon the licensing exemption.

    “It would not be unfair to permit Mr. P to represent the Landlord in this matter on ground that he has claimed an exemption from the law society licensing requirements,” she found. “However, given my concerns about Mr. P’s claimed exemption, this is a matter that the Law Society may wish to consider further.”

No Licence, No Exemption? No Representation

    An Ontario Human Rights Tribunal interim decision directs a representative to provide her LSUC licence number, or identify an exemption, before she can appear on behalf of a complainant. Adjudicator Alison Renton found: “As the representative has not provided a LSUC registration number, she will not be permitted to represent the respondent unless she provides a LSUC registration number or falls within one of the LSUC’s exemptions.”

    The Law Society recently eliminated two categories of exemptions. This follows recommendations to reduce the exceptions permitted under By-Law 4, and the end of a licensing stream for exempted representatives.

Argos Sex Discrimination Claim Dismissed

    During an Argos game last summer, a ticket-holder saw a promotional announcement about the White Ribbon Campaign against domestic violence. Deciding that the Argos “support sexual discrimination against men,” the Argos fan filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. At a summary hearing, the discrimination portion of Robert Heath’s claim was dismissed. A complaint of “reprisal” – Heath says Argos staff threatened to cancel his ticket subscription – will proceed.

    Point of interest: the Argos CEO sits on the board of the White Ribbon Campaign.

Religious Freedom & Condo Boards

    Is it discriminatory to schedule a special condo board meeting on a religious holiday? That issue is headed to an HRTO hearing, in a complaint filed by a Mississauga paralegal and two others who self-identify as Muslims. This interim decision discusses recusal requests, procedures and practices at mediation, and when an application may be amended.

The Bathtub Dispute

    A “Go back to Africa” comment cost a respondent $500, and an order to take an e-learning course for landlords. Police notes, 911 transcripts, and a surreptitious audio recording are among the evidence in this roommate-gone-bad case that came before the HRTO.
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