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Criminal Law Malpractice Claims Fact Sheet

hands on jail bars

LAWPRO sees a lower number of malpractice claims flowing from criminal cases as compared to other areas of law, but criminal claims have been trending up in recent years. Lawyer/client communication errors cause 54% of the criminal claims – no other area of law comes close to this figure. No doubt this reflects the nature of criminal matters.

The resolution of a criminal matter can have a significant impact on a client, and clients that are unhappy with an outcome frequently complain that they weren’t properly informed of the implications of entering a plea. Criminal convictions are often appealed on the basis of “ineffective assistance of counsel” – whether the allegation has any merit or not. The allegations made on appeal may include failing to properly review Crown disclosure, failing to mount the defence requested by the client, not calling a particular witness, etc.

Many types of criminal claims are preventable. Lawyers should take steps to ensure the client understands the strengths and weaknesses of his case and the implications of entering a plea. Because they will need to be referenced in the event of a claim, document these conversations and the instructions that were received.

Download the full Fact Sheet (PDF) for detailed information.


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