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While we have been receiving great feedback on the various articles on social media in the latest issue of LawPRO Magazine, the surprise front-runner for most popular article in this issue has had over 300 downloads in the first four days – Yvonne Diedrick’s article on the Apology Act, 2009. Perhaps not a real surprise as many lawyers I have talked to are not familiar with this new legislation.

The Apology Act came into force in Ontario on April 23, 2009. It allows the communication of expressions of sorrow or regret without worrying that the comments can later be used adversely in a civil court.

Many lawyers, and especially litigators, are likely not inclined to think of an apology as a method of dispute resolution. However, experience in other jurisdictions has shown that an apology can go a long way towards resolving a dispute. Ontario was the fourth Canadian jurisdiction to enact apology legislation, following British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. More than 30 states in the U.S. have similar legislation in place.

Read this LAWPRO webzine article to understand the circumstances in which you can make an apology and those in which you should not — there are a number of exceptions under the Act.

Note that LAWPRO’s policy of insurance does not specifically prohibit apologies or expressions of sympathy or regret. It does, however, provide that an insured shall not voluntarily assume any liability. The Act assists lawyers in dealing with this issue and makes it easier for lawyers to apologize to their clients. We encourage you to explore this option in consultation with LAWPRO. Ultimately the legislation should help lawyers achieve the same goal as health care professionals hope to achieve of enhanced accountability and open communication between the lawyer and the client. It may even help you AvoidAClaim.

Cross-posted at Slaw.ca