Can a paralegal represent a party in an arbitration pursuant to
Ontario's Arbitration Act, 1991 (the
It appears the answer to this question is yes as the by-laws
pursuant to the Law Society Act which determine a
paralegal's scope of practice include the right to appear
before tribunals established by an Act of the Legislature of
Ontario and an arbitral tribunal falls into this category as it is
empowered by the Arbitrations Act.
Furthermore, it appears that paralegals can represents parties
where more than $25,000 is at stake as a monetary limit of $25,000
is specific to Small Claims Court matters.
There are strong policy arguments in favour of paralegal
representation in arbitrations and party autonomy favours paralegal
Analysis of Whether a Paralegal can Represent a Party in an
Subsection 6(2) of by-law 4 under the Law Society Act
outlines the scope of activities in which a paralegal may engage.
This includes representing a party before "a tribunal
established under an Act of the Legislature of Ontario".
According to the Paralegal Rules of Conduct, the definition of
"tribunal" includes "arbitrators".
Subsection 1(1) of the Law Society Act defines an
"adjudicative body" to include at clause (b) "a
tribunal established under an Act of Parliament or under an Act of
the Legislature of Ontario" and at clause (d) "an
arbitrator". Although there appears to be a distinction in
this subsection, one or more arbitrators form an arbitral tribunal.
The question becomes whether or not that arbitral tribunal is
established by an Act of the Legislature of Ontario.
The Arbitration Act is an Act of the Legislature of
Ontario and deals with arbitral tribunals including issues such as
the composition, jurisdiction and conduct of arbitral tribunals as
well as awards, enforcement and appeals of arbitral tribunal
An arbitral tribunal exercises statutory powers in
decision-making. For example, pursuant to subsection 17(1) of the
Arbitration Act, an "arbitral tribunal may rule on
its own jurisdiction". As a further example, section 31 of the
Arbitration Act states that an "arbitral tribunal
shall decide a dispute in accordance with law, including equity,
and may order specific performance, injunctions and other equitable
Since the Arbitration Act is an Act of the Legislature
of Ontario and the Arbitration Act addresses fundamental
issues (composition, jurisdiction, conduct, awards, enforcement and
appeals) and an arbitral tribunal exercises statutory powers in
decision-making, it appears that an arbitral tribunal meets the
definition of by-law 4 of being "a tribunal established under
an Act of the Legislature of Ontario".
In light of the foregoing, it appears that paralegals can
represent clients in arbitrations.
Analysis of Whether a Paralegal can Represent a Client in an
Arbitration where the Claim is for more than $25,000
The $25,000 Small Claims Court limit is specific to the Small
Claims Court pursuant to subsection 1(1) of Ontario Regulation
626/00 of the Courts of Justice Act.
At the Landlord and Tenant Board, there is a $25,000 limit, but
this limit is tied to the Small Claims Court limit pursuant to
various sections of the Residential Tenancies Act.
Paralegals can and do represent clients before tribunals where
there is no monetary limit. For example, the Human Rights Tribunal
of Ontario has no monetary limit.
There is no monetary limit in the Arbitration Act.
As a $25,000 limit is specific to the Small Claims Court and the
Landlord and Tenant Board due to legislation and regulations and
there is no monetary limit in the Arbitration Act, it
appears that paralegals can represent clients in arbitrations where
more than $25,000 is at stake.
There are many strong policy arguments as to why paralegals
ought to be entitled to represent clients before arbitral
tribunals. Paralegals and arbitration are extremely important in
terms of access to justice.
Rule 3.02(12) of the Paralegal Rules of Conduct states that
paralegals "shall consider the use of alternative dispute
resolution (ADR) when appropriate, inform the client of ADR
options, and, if so instructed, take steps to pursue those
options". This seems to reflect the strong policy arguments in
favour of ADR, including arbitration.
Party autonomy suggests that parties should be able to decide
whether to self-represent or have a paralegal or lawyer represent
them, subject to any clauses in the arbitration rules agreed
As the law is now, it appears that paralegals can represent
clients in arbitrations and there is no monetary limit restricting
a paralegal's representation.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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