A very important part of our job as lawyers is to verify the identity of our clients. The source of our duty to confirm the identity of our clients is found in the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia (the “Code”) which is prepared by the Law Society of British Columbia as well as the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and the. The steps and documents necessary to verify a client’s identity will vary depending on the unique circumstances.
In the most simple and straightforward of cases, we are required to take reasonable steps to obtain and record information such as our client’s full name, address, phone number and occupation.
In the event that we are retained to provide legal services with respect to a “financial transaction”, as defined in the Code, we are required to review at least two pieces of valid identification from each client, at least one of which being government issued photo identification. Please note that it may be necessary for a client to provide an additional piece of identification or to sign a statutory declaration (a sworn statement of facts) if the client’s name does not match exactly on the forms of identification provided.
There are circumstances in which we cannot confirm the identity of our clients in person. Examples include:
- If our client is having their identification verified by a third party either elsewhere in BC, elsewhere in Canada or internationally. In this case we must obtain an attestation or agency agreement, as applicable, from the individual verifying the identity of the client.
- If our client is having their identification verified by us via video conferencing (Ex. Zoom). In this case we must obtain digital copies of two pieces of valid and unexpired identification, front and back. One of the pieces of identification must be a drivers license or passport. The other piece of identification must be from the prescribed list approved by the Law Society of BC. We must then view the same two pieces of identification during the video call. In certain circumstances, we must also obtain digital and original copies of two documents which confirm our client’s name and address or name and birth date (Ex. bank statement, utility statement, property tax assessment, etc.) or obtain a credit check.
It is also important to note that if a client is borrowing money from a lender, the lender may have unique requirements for the form of identification as well as where and how a client’s identity is verified.
It is prudent to consider the applicable method of client identification and forms of acceptable identification early on when retaining a lawyer to ensure that there are no last-minute complications. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the client identification process, acceptable forms of identification or any other matter, please do not hesitate to ask.
Please do not hesitate to contact us at (778) 940-3768 if we can be of assistance with your current or future legal needs in the areas of corporate, commercial, real estate or wills and estates. We would be happy to help!
Author: Danielle (Dani) Brito
This information is general in nature only. You should consult a lawyer before acting on any of this information. This information should not be considered as legal advice. To learn more about your legal needs, please contact our office at (778) 940-3768 or any of our lawyers practicing in the area of business law at the following:
Danielle (Dani) Brito: [email protected]
Jennette Vopicka: [email protected]