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Call for comment: Title insurance practices

The Law Society’s Advertising and Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group is examining practices involving the payment of fees and offering of benefits by title insurers to real estate lawyers or their staff and is considering whether additional regulatory measures involving these practices are required.

The Working Group would like to hear from real estate lawyers and other stakeholders with respect to a series of questions as outlined in the Consultation Document .  See also the working group’s report to June 2018 Convocation.

To make a submission you may respond to the questions directly on the online form or upload a document. We welcome submissions until October 31, 2018.

Make a Submission

If you are uploading a submission, your document must:

  • be a PDF, DOC or DOCX file
  • be no bigger than 5 MB

Submissions will be provided to the Advertising and Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group, Professional Regulation Committee and to Convocation and may be reproduced, and/or made publicly available by the Law Society, with attribution. The Law Society reserves the right to redact submissions at its discretion, for reasons including the protection of confidentiality, copyright, and brevity.

If you prefer to send your written input by mail, please mail documents to the following address:

Advertising and Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group
The Law Society of Ontario
130 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N6

Contingency Fee Reforms Consultation

Read the April 2018 update on contingency fee reforms

The consultation on potential changes to the regulation of contingency fees closed on March 20, 2018. The Working Group is now reviewing submissions received and will report back to Convocation in the coming months.

For additional information, see the Working Group’s report to February Convocation and the consultation document

The Working Group’s call for comment on contingency fee reforms follows the approval by Convocation, in December 2017, of the seventh report of the Advertising and Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group, which focuses on plans to regulate contingency fees. The regulatory plans are designed to protect access to justice for the public, while ensuring protection from unscrupulous practices and unreasonable fees. On January 25, 2018, Convocation approved additional recommendations that expand on the recommendations approved in December. The Working Group’s recommendations regarding the regulation of contingency fees, follow an initial call for input in 2017

Advertising Rule Amendments

New rules re: advertising residential real estate services – September 28, 2017
ucw88 da ga New rules for the advertising of fixed-price residential real estate services were approved to support transparency and ensure consumers may easily compare prices

Amendments to advertising rules – February 23, 2017
Convocation approved rule amendments to strengthen the rules governing the advertising of legal services , adding new public protection measures.

Referral Fee Resources and Information

On April 27, 2017, the Law Society set a cap on referral fees based on a percentage of the legal fee:15% for the first $50,000 of legal fees and 5% of all legal fees thereafter, to an absolute cap of $25,000.

Lawyers and paralegals are also required to use the following documents: 

  • Mandatory Referral Agreement (Revised June 2017) - Word – Fillable PDF  
  • Law Society Requirements for Referral Fees – What Clients Need to Know (PDF)

New Referral Fee Resources - To support licensees in understanding and complying with the new referral fee requirements, the Law Society has developed:

For more information on all referral fee requirements see the report to Convocation.

About the Advertising and Fee Arrangement Issues Working Group

The nature and volume of advertising for legal services is evolving rapidly, along with the legal services marketplace. The Law Society established the working group, in February 2016, to determine whether by-law and rule amendments may help ensure advertising and fee practices continue to be accurate, transparent and in the public interest.

The Working Group received a great deal of information about these issues, including advertising that may be false or misleading and fees that are not transparent and appear to have an impact on the way in which legal services are being provided, including:

It has received a great deal of information about these issues, including advertising that may be false or misleading and fees that are not transparent and appear to have an impact on the way in which legal services are being provided, such as:

  • Advertising for legal services with a view to obtaining referral fees
  • Use of endorsements and awards that are not objectively verifiable
  • Lack of clarity in “all-in” pricing for legal services
  • Disproportionate referral fees, both upfront and as a percentage of the result in a contingency fee matter
  • Lack of transparency in contingent and referral fee arrangements  





2011 – 2014 – Concerns about advertising are growing. A specialized Investigations team is established to respond. Complaints grow from 115 to 141 complaints, including those initiated by the Law Society.
2015 – Professional Regulation Committee develops proposed amendments to Rules of Professional Conduct and conducts a  Call for Input.





Nov 2015 - Professional Regulation Committee reviews input and determines further study is required before deciding on advertising and marketing rules.

Feb 2016 – Professional Regulation Committee establishes the Advertising and Fee Arrangements Working Group.





March to May 2016 – The Working Group holds focus group meetings with legal organizations and the professions to gain better understanding of current practices and issues.
June 2016 – The Working Group reports overview of input to Professional Regulation Committee and Convocation. ( Working Group Report Tab 2.2.2)





July 2016 – Call for Feedback to licensees about potential regulatory responses. ( Working Group Report Tab 2.2.1
Sept 2016 – Call for Feedback closes. The Working Group will review feedback received.






Feb 2017 – The Working Group reports to the Professional Regulation Committee and Convocation.

April 2017 - Working Group recommends referral fee cap and other regulatory measures.

June 2017 – Working Group launches consultation on contingency fees.

Sept. 2017 – Convocation approves new rules for advertising real estate legal services.

Sept. 29 2017 – Final date to provide submissions on Contingency Fees.
November 10, 2017 – The Working Group publishes recommendations on Contingency Fees. 




December 1, 2017   Convocation approves the seventh report of the Advertising and Fee Arrangements Issues Working Group, which focuses on contingency fees. 
January 25, 2018 – Convocation approves additional recommendations regarding contingency fees. 




February 22, 2018   Consultation on contingency fee reforms launched.. 
June 2018, 2018 – Consultation on title insurance practices launched 



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