E-Brief: December 2016 

Benchers approve support for Access to Justice BC

The Law Society and the Law Foundation have announced a joint three-year funding and support arrangement for Access to Justice BC (A2JBC). Under the terms of the arrangement, the Law Society and the Law Foundation will each contribute $150,000 over three years to enable A2JBC to continue its innovative work in bringing together stakeholders from across the justice sector to better collaborate and coordinate in enhancing access to justice for British Columbians. The Benchers approved the arrangement, noting that supporting and enhancing access to justice is a foundational goal of the Law Society’s strategic plan.

Law Society participates in federal government’s consultation on national security

The Law Society has sent a submission to the federal government regarding its consultation on national security. Read the submission.

Length of call requirement for Bencher election candidates

The Benchers have approved a recommendation to remove the requirement for Bencher election candidates to be members in good standing for at least seven years, with the goal of improving engagement with recently called lawyers. Members will be asked to consider a proposed amendment to the Law Society Rules at the 2017 AGM. In addition, age will be added to the list of diversity markers considered.

Amendments to the Code of Professional Conduct for BC

The Benchers have approved amendments to the BC Code, which include inserting an introduction, incorporating language rights provisions drawn from the Federation of Law Societies’ Model Code, and adopting a new rule and commentary regarding incriminating physical evidence.

Call for applications: Legal Services Society board member

The Law Society makes appointments of qualified individuals to boards, councils and committees whose objects are related to the Society’s public interest mandate. The Law Society is accepting applications for the appointment of one board member to the Legal Services Society, to take effect in May 2017. The deadline to submit applications for this position is January 31, 2017. For more information on eligibility, responsibilities and directions on how to apply, visit our website.

Clarification on Juricert and filing of property transfer tax returns

Lawyers must personally affix their digital signatures on documents to be filed with the Land Title Branch Electronic Filing System (“EFS”) and keep their Juricert passwords confidential. If a lawyer discloses their Juricert password to anyone else, including their assistant, the lawyer will be in breach of their Juricert agreement, Part 10.1 of the Land Title Act and rule 6.1-5 of the BC Code. In those circumstances, if an assistant uses a lawyer’s Juricert password to affix the lawyer’s digital signature to a property transfer tax (PTT) return, the lawyer will also be in breach of Law Society Rule 3-64(8). Once a lawyer has personally affixed their digital signature to a PTT return, the lawyer may then permit their assistant to file the PTT return (uploading and submitting the return). We apologize for any confusion caused by conduct review summary #CR 2016-25 in the Winter 2016 Benchers’ Bulletin.

Fake Law Society complaints a cyber risk to lawyers

The Law Society has become aware that fake complaints are being sent to lawyers by email in parts of the United States. The emails contain a hyperlink that, if clicked on, may result in installation of malware or ransomware. Be on the lookout for this scam. The Law Society’s practice is to initially inform lawyers of a complaint by mail or courier, not by email. Consult with your IT professional to ensure you have appropriate security measures and training in place to prevent a cyber attack. Contact your commercial liability insurance broker about insurance for claims not covered by the compulsory policy.

Practice advice: holiday coverage and scammers

Plan how your practice will be covered if you will be away on holidays. Arrange for a competent lawyer to supervise your practice and provide information to the lawyer and your staff about how you can be contacted, if required. Your support staff should not be left without proper supervision (see BC Code, Chapter 6). Also, keep in mind that scammers may try to take advantage of fewer staff working during the holidays. Maintain an awareness of the myriad of scams that target lawyers, including the bad cheque scam and fraudulent changes in payment instructions, and be vigilant about the client identification and verification and no-cash rules.

Ministry of Justice: Changes to issuing Family Law Act protection orders

Effective December 5, 2016, the Ministry of Justice assumed responsibility for coordinating service of FLA protection orders issued when the respondent is not present in court. For more information, visit the ministry’s website.

From the courts

The Provincial Court has issued a Notice to the Profession regarding the recording of proceedings before judicial case managers. For more information, visit the court website.

Send your comments or questions to communications@lsbc.org.