Professional Negligence Claims Against Immigration Consultants & Lawyers in Vancouver

Immigration matters significantly impact an individual’s life, family, and ability to earn income. As a result, many potential new Canadians hire immigration consultants or lawyers for assistance with a variety of immigration issues, including work or study permits, permanent resident or citizenship status and refugee claims. When those professionals fail to uphold the duties and obligations owed to their client, the client can suffer significant personal and professional hardship and loss.

Meridian Law Group has extensive experience representing clients in professional negligence claims against immigration consultants and immigration lawyers. The firm advocates vigorously for those who have suffered loss due to an immigration professional’s negligence and takes swift, skilled action to obtain the maximum compensation possible for each client.

Immigration Consultants & Immigration Lawyers in Vancouver

Immigration consultants and lawyers are members of regulated professions, each with their own codes of conduct, continuing education requirements, and professional liability insurance provided by their regulating bodies. As a result, when someone hires a consultant or lawyer to assist with their immigration process, they are hiring someone who represents themselves as an individual with qualifications and expertise over and above that of the ordinary person.

The Duty of Care Owed by Canadian Immigration Consultants & Lawyers

To establish a professional negligence claim against an immigration lawyer or consultant, the client/claimant must prove the professional in question owed the client a duty of care. In many cases, this is established by the contract between the client and the lawyer or consultant. Additionally, an immigration consultant or lawyer’s regulating body often has standards outlining when a client-professional relationship (and thus, a duty of care) exists.

Standard of Care Applicable to Immigration Professionals

In addition to establishing the existence of a duty of care, professional negligence claims also require proof that the immigration consultant or lawyer breached that duty of care. This is demonstrated by showing the lawyer or consultant fell below the standard of care for a professional of their skills and qualifications.

This legal standard can be complicated to establish and will vary by each case’s circumstances, such as the jurisdiction in which the professional provides their services. In general terms, the immigration lawyer or consultant must give the client reasonable, competent, and accurate advice.

Varying Standards of Care Applicable to Immigration Consultants & Lawyers

Generally, a higher standard of care applies to persons who represent themselves as having special skills or knowledge that allows them to provide services or perform tasks beyond an ordinary person’s capacity.

For example, a client may hire an immigration consultant to complete and submit their permanent resident application. In such circumstances, the client has a reasonable expectation that the consultant has specialized knowledge on acquiring and including the correct information for the form. If the consultant completes the application with inappropriate or incorrect information, they may be found to have failed to meet their standard of care.

In some cases, an immigration consultant or lawyer may simply review an application completed by the client before submitting it on the client’s behalf. In those circumstances, a different standard of care may be imposed on the immigration professional than in a case where the consultant or lawyer managed the entire application process.

Codes of Conduct & Legal Standards for Immigration Professionals

Expert evidence and reference to relevant legal or regulatory benchmarks (such as codes of conduct or legislation) are usually required to determine the reasonable standard of care applicable to an immigration lawyer or consultant.

In Canada, immigration lawyers are subject to the code of conduct and practice standards set out by their provincial or territorial Law Society.

The College of Immigration & Citizenship Consultants (CICC)

An immigration consultant should be registered with the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC), a federal regulatory authority. Paragraph 4 of the CICC’s Code of Professional Conduct states:

4(1) A licensee must uphold the standards of the profession and perform their professional obligations honourably and with integrity.

(2) A licensee must not engage in conduct that is likely to discredit the profession or jeopardize the public’s confidence and trust in the profession.

Canadian courts have held that the standard of care applicable to immigration consultants is that of a reasonably prudent and competent member of their profession. For example, an Alberta case against an immigration consultant determined the consultant failed to advise the plaintiff clients about their ability to bring a “flagpole application” (where a foreign national with a temporary immigration status leaves and immediately re-enters Canada to access same-day immigration services). The court determined the immigration consultant’s failure to advise the client of the flagpole application option fell below the standard expected of a reasonable immigration consultant with similar knowledge.

Compensation for Losses Caused by an Immigration Professional’s Negligence

Even if a client establishes a breach of an immigration professional’s standard of care, a professional negligence claim is unlikely to succeed without proving a loss caused by that breach.

The most common damage caused by an immigration consultant or lawyer’s negligence is the client’s loss of immigration status and the resulting loss of income. For example, a client hires a professional to assist with their immigration process but loses their potential immigration status due to the professional’s errors or oversights. As a result, the client’s legal authority to work in Canada is revoked, impacting their income until they can restore their status and legally work in Canada again.

In addition to the loss caused by the immigration professional’s negligence, the client will likely incur further expenses by hiring a new lawyer or consultant to remedy the previous errors. It is critical for plaintiffs to keep detailed records of all costs related to the original professional’s negligence, as the court can award damages based on all losses incurred.

Contact Meridian Law Group in Vancouver for Trusted Advice on Negligence Claims Against Immigration Consultants & Lawyers

Claims against immigration consultants and lawyers require an understanding of complex evidentiary, regulatory, and legal requirements. As a result, it’s crucial to consult with a lawyer experienced in immigration-related professional negligence cases.

The skilled litigators of Meridian Law Group provide cutting-edge, tailored legal solutions to clients seeking compensation from immigration consultants or lawyers. Clients benefit from the firm’s collective decades of knowledge and receive attentive, vigorous advocacy from the professional negligence team both in and outside the courtroom. The firm proudly serves clients across British Columbia, Canada, and worldwide. To speak with an experienced professional negligence lawyer or arrange a consultation, please contact us online or at 604-687-2277.