Note: LawLINE services have been discontinued as of March 26, 2010. If you need legal advice services, please see our Links page for links to information about the law and legal services in British Columbia. Links to non-LSS websites are provided for the convenience of users. LSS does not create or maintain these non-LSS websites and is not responsible for their accuracy.
This FAQ page is no longer maintained and was last legally checked March 2009. The FAQs provide information only and are not intended to give you legal advice. Please note that information will become outdated as laws change.
I have been charged with a criminal offence. What should I do?
I have been charged with a criminal offence in a Canadian city that I no longer live in and I cannot travel there to deal with the charge. What can I do?
I have a consumer rights problem. I entered into a cell phone contract but do not want to continue with it any longer. What can I do about this?
Last week, I signed an agreement purchasing a car and want to return it. What are my options?
I am a visitor in Canada separated from my spouse, who is a Canadian citizen. We have one child together. I would like to stay in Canada, but my spouse has withdrawn his sponsorship application. Where can I find information about what I can do?
People wanting pardons must apply to the National Parole Board. You can find a downloadable application form and instructions on their website.
You should be aware that even if a pardon is granted, information about your criminal past can still be disclosed in certain situations. Also, pardons do not oblige foreign governments to let you into their countries. For example, if you want travel to the United States, you may need to apply to the American government for a "waiver."
For more information about pardons, see the BC Bar Association's fact sheet.
LawLINE is primarily intended for serious legal problems, so we seldom give in-depth advice on fighting traffic tickets or other violation tickets, unless there is a significant risk that being convicted will prevent you from earning your livelihood.
Almost all personal injury lawyers give free initial consultations. To find a personal injury lawyer, try calling the BC Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service during business hours at 604-687-3221 or toll-free at 1-800-663-1919. Tell the operator where you're calling from and what you need help with. You will be provided with a name and contact information for a lawyer in your geographic area. You then call the lawyer's office to schedule an appointment. The fee for the meeting is $25 (plus taxes) for the first half an hour. There is no obligation on you or the lawyer after the first half-hour. Further time and services are negotiable. However, the first half hour should give you an idea of whether you have a case that may be worth pursuing.
If after such a consultation, you feel you want to hire the lawyer, you and the lawyer can discuss whether he or she will work on "contingency," which means that the lawyer will collect his or her fees from money you get from a court award or a settlement. This enables you to get legal representation even if you don't have a lot of money.
I believe that my doctor (or dentist, chiropractor, etc.) did something wrong and harmed my health. Who can help me make a case?
Medical malpractice is a very complex and specialized area of the law. We recommend that people who think they may have such a claim should contact the BC Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service to find a lawyer. See the "I was injured in a car accident" above for more about this service.
Like medical malpractice (above), the law of defamation is a complex and specialized area of the law. For one thing, if you decide to sue, you must do so in Supreme Court. Small Claims Court has no jurisdiction for these matters. We recommend that you read the Canadian Bar Association's fact sheet on defamation, then call the Lawyer Referral Service if you want more help. See the "I was injured in a car accident" above for more about this service.
- with a real estate transfer and/or mortgage papers
- dispute a property tax assessment
- dispute a will
- incorporate a company or deal with director or shareholder disputes
Legal aid doesn't handle these kinds of business matters. If you wish, you can meet with a lawyer by using the Lawyer Referral Service. See the "I was injured in a car accident" above for more about this service.
Legal aid doesn't cover Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) matters, but we recommend that you contact the Workers' Advisors Office, which is an independent agency that provides advice and representation to workers who need help in dealing with their WCB issues. You can contact them at 1-800-663-4261, or get general information on the Workers' Advisors website.
Legal aid does not deal with veterans benefits matters, but we recommend that you contact the Bureau of Pensions Advocates, which provides free legal help on such matters. You can contact them at 1-800-663-4261, or get general information on the bureau's website.
Legal aid does not offer this service. However, the UBC Law Students Legal Advice Program (LSLAP) does this for people who qualify financially. You can phone them at 604-822-5791 for more information. If you don't qualify for LSLAP assistance, you can hire a lawyer or notary public to do this for you. Fees can vary a lot. If you don't feel you can afford to pay a professional, you can do it yourself, but you must be very careful to do it properly or your will may be invalid. There are several self-help guides available online, in book stores, and in libraries. However, LSS does not vouch for the quality of any of them.
The Law Society of British Columbia has a detailed guide on its website to help people resolve such disputes fairly. "Resolving disagreements" covers negotiation, mediation, and having the bill reviewed by the Supreme Court.
If you want to have your lawyer's bill reviewed in Supreme Court, you must apply to the court within three months of when you paid the bill, or if you haven’t paid the bill, then within a year of when the lawyer sent you the bill, unless there are special circumstances.
For more information about bill reviews, we recommend that you also read "Legal Profession Act Review Process" on the provincial government's Courts of British Columbia website.