A judge has found Brian Carlisle of Abbotsford in contempt of a court order after he advertised legal services online for money.
On June 5, 2002, the B.C. Supreme Court ordered Carlisle and his business All Business Paralegals of Hope be prohibited from practicing law, preparing court documents and giving legal advice. Carlisle has never been a member of the Law Society of British Columbia, nor is he a licenced paralegal. It was alleged at the time that he offered to prepare and file court documents in Small Claims Court for a civil proceeding and offered to appear in court in both a civil and criminal matter.
Between 2002 and 2010, the Law Society received several complaints alleging that Carlisle had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, but it took no steps to bring contempt proceedings during this period. One of those complaints was that in 2004, Carlisle provided legal advice and drafted documents for a civil proceeding.
In 2013 and 2014, the Law Society conducted an investigation into Carlisle’s activities. They discovered that his services were advertised on public Facebook pages and on a website, carlisleconsulting.ca. These services involved the preparation of documents for individuals seeking exemptions under the Medical Marijuana Access Regulations (MMAR) and the Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR). Under the MMAR, individuals could be granted permits to grow and possess medical marihuana. The MMAR was repealed in March 2014 and replaced with the MMPR. Under the MMPR, individuals can no longer grow their own medical marijuana but are required instead to purchase it from a licenced producer. MMAR permit holders sought exemptions from the new MMPR so that they could continue to grow their own supply of medical marijuana.
According to court documents, Carlisle offered his services for a fee to clients wishing to make court applications for exemptions to the MMPR and presented himself qualified to do so. In addition to these advertised services, the Law Society contacted four individuals in Ontario in respect to services provided by Carlisle for a fee and also conducted an undercover investigation in B.C. The Law Society’s undercover investigation involved a private investigator who posed as a potential client seeking Carlisle’s services to apply for a MMPR exemption for a relative.
During his trial last month, Carlisle said he didn’t deliberately disobey the terms of the order. He didn’t think it applied to court proceedings outside B.C. and pointed out that he did not offer document services for a fee to B.C. residents. Carlisle said that any advice he provided was based on the expertise he has gained from his own personal experience applying for and obtaining exemptions under the MMAR and MMPR, and most of this was directed to applications to Health Canada, not to court. He also noted that the main area in which he provides advice for a fee relates to applications under MMPR for production licences, which are not court applications.
However, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Barbara Fisher pointed out that Carlisle’s Internet postings between Sept. 17, 2013 and Jan. 18, 2014 establish that he offered services that are clearly prohibited in his previous order, and that many of the other postings, when considered in context, establish that he also held himself as being qualified to do so, which is also prohibited. She also stated that the postings clearly show Carlisle did this, at least for some applications, in the expectation of receiving a fee.
With respect to the Law Society investigation, Fisher found that Carlisle was prepared to provide document services that included those required for a court exemption for a $2,000 fee, he gave legal advice about the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the medical marijuana regulations and how to obtain exemptions under the MMPR from the courts, and he accepted a fee of $150 for giving this advice. Both of these activities were clearly prohibited by the June 5, 2002 order.
The court fined Carlisle $500 and awarded the Law Society its special costs. Fisher reminded Carlisle that he is not qualified to give legal advice or prepare documents and he should not be doing this in the expectation of a fee, gain, or reward whether for individuals in or outside British Columbia.