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OFFENCES AND ENFORCEMENT - Contravention of legislation

Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 8:34 AM  

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Trial of Codina, who was charged with four counts of having provided advice or representation, for consideration, in connection with an Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) proceeding or application contrary to s. 91(1). Codina was also charged with one count of breaching s. 126 of the IRPA by inducing, counselling, aiding or abetting a client to misrepresent or withhold material facts that could have induced an error in the administration of the IRPA. Codina brought an application for a directed verdict of acquittal. Codina was the sole officer, director and shareholder of Codina International, with business offices in Toronto and elsewhere in Canada and abroad. Codina International placed advertisements in various ethnic, foreign language newspapers circulated in Toronto and the surrounding area offering immigration services. The advertisements did not name Codina personally, but claimed 30 years' experience in the field. Typically, the advertisements offered a free initial consultation. None of Codina International’s regular office staff were licenced to provide immigration services. Codina International did have some lawyers and licensed immigration consultants on staff from time to time, but none of those lawyers or consultants had anything approaching 30 years' experience in providing Canadian immigration advice. The charges against Codina related to the provision of immigration advice to clients. Codina was not a practicing lawyer or a registered immigration consultant. The Crown alleged that Codina personally gave advice and personally counselled one client to make a material misrepresentation in an immigration application. Codina maintained that Codina International provided legal information and not legal advice. She argued that all payments made by any client were made to Codina International and that no consideration was obtained for anything she did in relation to those clients.

HELD: Codina convicted. Codina was unlicensed and knew she was. There was evidence of payment to Codina International and evidence that Codina knew there was such payment. On the first count, there was some evidence that Codina had provided advice and even spoken on behalf of her client’s daughter to an immigration officer in connection with her refugee application. On the second count, there was clear evidence that Codina had full knowledge the advice was being given to her clients for their relatives in Pakistan, who would be IRPA applicants. On count three, there was evidence that Codina provided personalized advice to a client on the prospect for success of an immigration application and that she agreed to personally represent the client. On count four, there was overwhelming evidence that Codina gave advice to a client on the possibility of relatives immigrating to Canada in the skilled worker class. There was also some evidence from which a jury could conclude that Codina offered to represent the client. Her actions constituted “counselling” under s. 126 of the IRPA. The application by Codina for a directed verdict was dismissed with respect to all counts. Codina called some evidence, but did not testify on her own behalf.

R. v. Codina, [2017] O.J. No. 6814, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, A.M. Molloy J., December 29, 2017. Digest No. TLD-Feb52018010