Legislating Professional Conduct

In recent weeks there have been three separate initiatives by Ontario’s politicians to address conflicts of interest. Bill 160 would require drug manufacturers and makers of drug devices to disclose for publication all benefits conferred to health providers, such as physicians. Bill 165 would prohibit lawyers from referring a client to another lawyer for a fee (something that many other professions do not permit). Bill 166 would severely limit the ability for a real estate professional to act on both sides of a real estate transaction.

Two of those initiatives are government Bills (Bill 160 and Bill 166) which begs the question as to why the government is addressing these issues through legislation rather than working with the regulator of the respective professions? In all likelihood the regulators of the medical and real estate professions would have cooperated with the change of their professional misconduct / code of ethics provisions if requested by the government. Regardless of whether the reasons relates to a desire for publicity or a lack of confidence in the regulators, this recent trend is not good news for regulators.

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