We publish blogs in response to inquiries we receive from the public and our networks or when we come across novel issues in cases we are working on. This blog is to provide an explanation for why we use the use the concept name of “Investigation Counsel” for our law firm, and how and why we act as advocates for victims of fraud.
Investigation Counsel PC
Investigation Counsel PC is a law firm that operates as a professional corporation. We are sometimes asked if we are a private investigation company. Although that sounds intriguing, we are not. Rather, we are licenced as lawyers and provide litigation services in Canada. One of our unique features is the investigative background of some of the lawyers. As investigative skills are not taught at law school or in bar admission courses, it is a competitive advantage we offer for fraud recovery matters.
There was a time when the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) did not permit lawyers to use concept names for their law firms. Rather, the LSUC required all law firms to use the names of their partners when offering legal services to the public. One of the problems with this policy is that when one the named partners died or ceased practising, the firm name was often was changed or lost its meaning. Another problem is that often partner names were not attractive to the public. Although this is not an issue with large national firms, it is a problem faced by firms operating as boutiques servicing niche areas of the law.
To facilitate the use of professional corporations to operate legal practices, the LSUC changed its policy to permit concept names. To us, the policy change of the LSUC was welcome, as our corporate Mission Statement is advocating for fraud victims through creative investigations and zealous prosecutions through to judgment and recovery. It is also our mission to offer an opportunity for lawyers with an investigative backgrounds to further their careers – especially for those interested in fraud recovery, commercial and investigation defence litigation.
The name “Investigation Counsel” was not something we created. The LSUC has lawyers they designate as “Investigation Counsel” to investigate wayward lawyers. We also learned that the Ontario Securities Commission has lawyers they designate as “Investigation Counsel” to investigate securities fraud. Our idea was to bring the concept of “Investigation Counsel” to the marketplace, so that any corporation, association or individual could retain their own lawyers whose passion is investigating and prosecuting fraud and related matters.
Advocates for Fraud Victims
The reality in Canada and around the world is that most fraud cases are not investigated or prosecuted. There are numerous reasons for this. Most fraud cases are not prosecuted criminally because most police agencies do not have the resources to investigate and lay charges for anything but significant dollar losses (often for not less than $1M) or where the victims are a particularly vulnerable group in society (the elderly). Further, the police are often not inclined to investigate cases where members of the public do not provide them the evidence to support their case in a coherent and comprehensive manner; a task that most fraud victims are not adept at. The consequence is that most fraud reports linger in police files for years and are finally closed for lack of activity.
Most fraud cases are not prosecuted in the civil courts either, usually because fraud victims often lack the resources to support the fees that traditional law firms charge to bring their cases forward. Even where civil fraud claims are commenced, they often are not prosecuted to judgment, or recovery is not realized again because fraud victims can not afford to keep paying the fees traditional law firms charge. We have also seen cases where errors are made by lawyers who are not familiar with the complexity of bringing these cases to a judgment, which results in the cases being stalled and eventually, like police investigations, closed for lack of activity.
While not all cases make it to judgment and recovery for various reasons, in our role as advocate for fraud victims, we provide our clients with assessments detailing the options available to them, coordinating our investigations and civil prosecutions with police investigations and Crown prosecutions, and assisting fraud victims prepare coherent and comprehensive criminal complaints to increase the chances the police will actually lay charges against the primary perpetrators. For information on assessments, we refer you to our blog: Triaging Your Fraud
As advocates for victims of investment frauds, we identify potential secondary defendants, such as professionals whose conduct provided opportunity for the primary fraudster to perpetrate their wrong doing. In all fraud cases (for example employment, corporate, romance, and investment frauds), we make efforts to identify the recipients of the stolen money, and recommend strategies for recovery. We also advise when a recovery becomes a matter of throwing good money after bad and should be stayed – see our blog Throwing Good Money After Bad
Social Media Working Group: “One Stop Resource for Fraud Victims”
It is the issue of throwing good money after bad which rightly is a common concern of fraud victim advocacy groups. At Investigation Counsel, we are involved with advocacy groups such as the Toronto Police and Financial Service Commission of Ontario Social Media Working Group: “One Stop Resource for Fraud Victims”. This advocacy group is comprised of representatives of many fraud associations, police agencies and financial institutions. Some if its members include:
- Bank of Canada: Nishanthan Vairavanathan –
- Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre: Jessica Tough –
- Canadian Association of Mortgage Brokering Professionals: Alison Cousland –
- Canadian Bankers Association: Kate Payne –
- Canadian Health Care Anti-Fraud Association: Joel Alleyne –
- Crime Prevention Association of Toronto: Samantha Peck –
- Financial Consumer Agency of Canada: Julie Hauser –
- Financial Services Commission of Ontario: Kristen Rose –
- First Canadian Title: Tanya Fowler –
- Insurance Bureau of Canada: Garry Robertson –
- Investor Education Fund: Perry Quinton –
- Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada: Sherri Haigh –
- Ontario Securities Commission: Aly Vitunski –
- Ontario Provincial Police, Anti Rackets Branch: Paul Beesley –
- RCMP, GTA Financial Crime & the Toronto lntegrated Market Enforcement Team (IMET): David Bellamy –
- Toronto Police Service, Financial Crimes Unit: Cameron Field –
- Victim Services Toronto: Bonnie Levine –
Further information on these fraud associations, police agencies and financial institutions is available on their respective websites.
At Investigation Counsel, we work with these organizations to provide for fraud victims information to assist them in responding to the social and financial consequences of fraud. In addition, we are active in fraud recovery associations such as the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and the Association of Certified Forensic Investigators.
Investigation Counsel Network
Over the years we have come into contact with lawyers from various police agencies who have been called to the bar in Ontario and across Canada. Some of these lawyers with police experience have furthered their careers in the public sector as Crown attorneys or have been appointed to the bench. Others have entered the private sector, focusing their careers in criminal defence or civil litigation, police management or association administrative law, or as corporate or real estate solicitors.
Networking with these lawyers with police experience has enhanced our fraud recovery practice and our defence of private and police investigators. This network of lawyers has also provided mentorship to law students who have come from a background in policing. It is through ICN that we also advocate for victims of fraud. For lawyers of ICN, we refer you to: https://investigationcounsel.com/investigation-counsel-network/ .
At Investigation Counsel PC, we only act for fraud victims. We are open to more discussing a fraud recovery scenario appropriate for your circumstances. For further information, please contact us.
Norman Groot, LLB, CFE, CFI