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Ethics Committee to recommend rescission of changes to “institutional lender” in BC Code pending consultation with profession

[posted December 18, 2014]

At their December 5, 2014 meeting, the Benchers passed changes to Appendix C of the BC Code to restrict the kinds of institutional lenders that lawyers can represent jointly with mortgagors to banks, trust companies or credit unions. Since that time, a number of lawyers have raised concerns about the effect of this change and the Ethics Committee has been persuaded to request the Benchers rescind the changes at the Benchers January 30, 2015 meeting, pending further consultation with the profession.

The objections to these changes centre on a concern that life insurance companies (e.g. Manulife, etc.) and the “monoline” institutional lenders (e.g. First National, Street Capital, MCAP, etc.) ought to be listed with banks, credit unions and trust companies, as they comprise a large part of the residential mortgage market and can generally be distinguished from other private lenders by the fact that they allow the borrower to pick the lawyer who acts for both the borrower and the lender in a transaction. It has also been suggested to the committee that mortgage investment corporations, which are typically full-fledged lending institutions with mortgage portfolios of over a couple hundred million dollars, should also be legitimately considered to be institutional lenders in some circumstances for the purpose of the rules. Other lawyers may have other suggestions.

Lawyers who wish to make comments on this issue are requested to do so by letter or email by March 31, 2015 by contacting:

Jack Olsen
Staff Lawyer – Ethics
Law Society of BC
845 Cambie Street
Vancouver, BC  V6B 4Z9
Tel. direct: 604.443.5711
Toll-free: 1.800.903.5300
Email: jolsen@lsbc.org

Lawyers who wish to obtain advice concerning their current obligations pending the Benchers reconsideration of this issue may contact staff lawyer Jack Olsen or a practice advisor.

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Trinity Western University files petition for judicial review

[posted December 18, 2014]

On December 18, 2014 Trinity Western University commenced proceedings seeking a judicial review of the Law Society's decision not to approve its proposed law school.

The Law Society will be defending its decision and will respond to the petition within the time provided under the rules of court.

The petition can be viewed here.

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Westminster county election results

[posted November 18, 2014]

Edmund P. CaissieEdmund P. Caissie has been elected a Bencher for Westminster county in the November 17, 2014 by-election. Caissie's one-year term begins on January 1, 2015.

Called in 1984, Caissie practises civil litigation with Caissie & Company in Surrey. He is currently a member of the Law Society Discipline Committee. He has been an elected governor of the Trial Lawyers Association since 2007, and was one of the founding members and past President of the Surrey Bar Association. He is an elected representative of the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch.

Caissie has been active in the community, serving a three-year term as trustee and Chair of the Surrey School Board. He also also served a three-year term as Councillor on the Surrey City Council, where he was appointed Chair of the Public Safety Committee supervising police, fire and bylaw personnel, as well as Vice-Chair of the Finance Committee.

In his election statement, Caissie noted, in part: "I applaud the efforts of our currently elected Benchers in Westminster County to reach out to the members with regular, informative email broadcasts explaining their work and inviting input into their difficult decisions."

See the voting results.

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Rule changes: cloud computing

[posted November 7, 2014]

The Benchers have adopted rule changes based on the report and recommendations of the Cloud Computing Working Group.

The amendments address:

  • the requirements for electronic data storage and processing;
  • producing records in a complaint investigation or forensic audit; and
  • third-party storage providers and security.

For more details, see Highlights of amendments to the Rules.

Lawyers are also reminded to refer to the Cloud computing checklist if they are considering storing law practice data in the cloud.

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Webcasting and online voting for general meetings

[posted November 7, 2014]

The Benchers have accepted the Governance Committee's recommendation that the Law Society Rules be updated to allow for greater and easier participation by members in general meetings.

The Benchers have referred the issue of webcasting general meetings and online voting at general meetings to the Act and Rules Committee, with a direction to develop the necessary amendments to provide the Benchers with the discretion to permit members to participate by webcast and to vote online.

The Governance Committee expects to report to the Benchers in early 2015 regarding seeking membership approval for further amendments to the Rules about the physical locations for general meetings and electronic distribution of notices and other meeting materials.

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Bencher meeting decision – Law school not approved for Law Society’s admission program

[posted October 31, 2014]

In a meeting on October 31, BC Law Society Benchers have decided not to approve a proposed law school at Trinity Western University for the purpose of the Law Society’s admission program.

This decision comes after careful consideration of the outcome of a referendum of BC lawyers conducted in October, together with the many other factors related to this issue.

The Benchers decided to hold a referendum after a resolution was passed at a special general meeting in June directing the Benchers to disapprove of the proposed law school. The Legal Profession Act provides that a member resolution can be made binding by referendum within 12 months following the general meeting at which it was adopted. The Benchers decided to accelerate the process to provide certainty now rather than leave the issue open until next June.

More information can be found here.

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Referendum results – BC Lawyers say TWU should not be an approved school of law

[posted October 30, 2014]

In a referendum vote, 5,951 BC lawyers say that the Benchers should not approve a proposed law school at Trinity Western University for the purpose of the Law Society’s admission program. The outcome of the referendum will be discussed at a Bencher meeting on October 31.

The referendum was conducted by mail-in ballot, and required one-third of BC’s lawyers to participate and two-thirds to vote in favour in order to pass. The vote was 5,951 (74%) in favour and 2,088 (26%) against, out of 8,039 valid ballots. Thirteen thousand, five hundred thirty practising, non-practising and retired lawyers were entitled to vote.

More information regarding the accreditation of TWU can be found here.

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Important notice: referendum ballots

[posted October 22, 2014]

[updated October 29, 2014]

The referendum votes will be counted on October 30, with the results being published here later that day.

To be counted, referendum ballots must be received by the Law Society by 5 pm on Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

Referendum ballots were mailed to BC lawyers by October 8, 2014. If you are a member of the Law Society and have not received your ballot in the mail, we encourage you to contact us at referendum@lsbc.org to arrange to pick up a replacement ballot package.

It is the lawyer's own responsibility to return the completed ballot to the Law Society by 5 pm on October 29, by whatever means are necessary and at the lawyer's expense. Ballots can be delivered directly to the Law Society office at 8th floor, 845 Cambie Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 4Z9.

For more information on the referendum, see this notice to the profession.

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Annual General Meeting – Van Ommen is acclaimed as Second Vice-President-elect; member resolution passes

[posted September 30, 2014]

Three hundred twelve lawyers and 11 students attended at the 14 locations established for the Annual General Meeting on September 30.

Herman Van Ommen, QC was acclaimed as the Second Vice-President-elect. In calling for his nomination, Bencher Nancy Merrill referred to Van Ommen as a “gifted leader” and, in seconding the motion, current Second Vice-President David Crossin, QC said Van Ommen “always conducts himself with good faith, civility and the utmost integrity.” Van Ommen will begin his term as Second Vice-President on January 1, 2015.

The member resolution before the meeting passed by a vote of 188 to 48. The resolution directs the Law Society to require all legal education programs recognized by the Law Society for admission to the bar to provide equal opportunity without discrimination. The Benchers will consider the result of the vote at an upcoming meeting.

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Referendum called on Trinity Western University’s proposed law school

[posted September 26, 2014]

[updated September 29 and October 3, 2014]

On September 26, the Benchers passed a motion that directs the Law Society to conduct a referendum of all BC lawyers regarding the proposed law school at Trinity Western University. The motion will allow for all members of the Society to vote on the resolution adopted at the special general meeting this past June, in which the Benchers were directed to declare that the proposed law school at Trinity Western University is not an approved faculty of law for the purpose of the Law Society’s admission program.

The motion further states that the resolution will be binding and will be implemented by the Benchers if at least one third of all members in good standing of the Society vote in the referendum, and two thirds of those participating vote in favour of the resolution.

For more information, read the notice to the profession.


To be counted, ballots must be received at the Law Society office by 5 pm on October 29, 2014. The referendum votes will be counted on October 30; results will be published on the website later that day.

Ballots will be mailed to members by October 8. If you have not received a ballot by October 15, or if you have any questions about the referendum, please email us at referendum@lsbc.org.


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Benchers approve 2015 fees

[posted September 26, 2014]

The Benchers have approved the 2015 practice fee and insurance fee, as recommended by the Finance and Audit Committee. The committee based its recommendation on a thorough review of the Law Society’s financial position, its statutory mandate and strategic plan. 

The total annual mandatory fee for practising, insured lawyers for 2015 will be $3,742, a 1.4% increase over 2014. The practice fee will increase by $52 to $1,992 and the insurance assessment will remain the same at $1,750. More information and a detailed breakdown and explanation of the 2015 fee are available here.

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Resolution adopted at Special General Meeting

[posted June 10, 2014]

On June 10, 2014, the members of the Law Society passed a resolution at a special general meeting directing the Benchers to declare that the proposed law school at Trinity Western University is not an approved faculty of law for the purposes of the Law Society’s admission program.

The resolution was passed in a 3,210 to 968 vote.

While section 13 of the Legal Profession Act sets out that a resolution at a general meeting is not binding on the Benchers except as provided under that section, Benchers will give this resolution serious and thoughtful consideration.

For background and supporting documents, see Special General Meeting June 10, 2014.

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