7.6 Client Identification
Application to Lawyers
The Client Identification Rules apply to all lawyers who are retained by a client to provide legal services, except for:
- A lawyer when providing legal services to his or her employer (e.g. in-house counsel).
- A lawyer acting as agent for another lawyer who has already identified (and perhaps verified) the client. Or
- A lawyer acting for a client who has been referred by another lawyer who has already identified (and perhaps verified) the client.
In the course of doing items 2 and 3 above, you must make and keep a record of your efforts to ascertain that the other lawyer identified (and perhaps verified) the client. You are allowed to rely on the lawyer who has retained you as agent or referred a matter to you who indicates that he or she has identified the client, provided that the lawyer is entitled to practice law in another Canadian jurisdiction (or is an advocate or notary in Quebec).
Note that only Canadian lawyers are included in the definition of “lawyer”. If the agent or referring lawyer is outside of Canada, you must independently perform the client identification (and perhaps verification).
The difference between identification and verification is important. If you are conducting identification, you review the identification documents and keep notes of the client’s name, address, telephone number and occupation but do not photocopy and retain the documents. If you are conducting verification, you are required to make and keep copies of the documents.
There are other situations - where lawyers may provide legal advice without being retained - which do not attract the Client Identification Rules.
- duty counsel providing legal services as part of a duty counsel program sponsored by a not-for-profit organization (unless the lawyer is involved in a financial transaction),
- a lawyer at non-profit legal clinics or law lines, which provide summary legal advice (unless the lawyer at the clinic or law line agrees to the ongoing representation of a person),
- a lawyer who provides summary advice over the phone and is not retained in the traditional sense, unless the lawyer charges fees or disbursements in the context of a consultation even if no ongoing retainer subsequently exists and
- a lawyer acting as a friend of the court, assisting unrepresented parties on their own initiatives, unless the services move beyond the provision of summary legal advice or if the lawyer charges a fee or undertakes to represent an individual on an ongoing basis.
See the Interpretation Guide for more information about these exceptions.
Not Providing Legal Advice
There are also situations where a lawyer does not provide legal advice such as:
- a lawyer acting as mediator who is not providing legal advice or legal services and
- a lawyer who is simply acting as a notary or commissioner and does not provide legal advice or other services.
The Client Identification Rules do not apply in these circumstances.