February 08, 2024

News you need

Law Society welcomes new President, Vice-Presidents and Benchers

Oaths of office were taken by Benchers starting their terms at the latest meeting on February 2. Jeevyn Dhaliwal, KC began her term as president for 2024 with Brook Greenberg, KC as first vice-president and Lindsay R. LeBlanc, KC as second vice-president. Ten new Benchers joined 21 returning Benchers in taking their oaths, which were administered by the Honourable Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson, following an Indigenous welcome by Carleen Thomas.

Happening now: Access to Justice Week

Access to Justice Week, happening February 5-9, is an opportunity to engage with the access to justice movement that is taking place in BC and beyond. This week is devoted to considering how to improve the justice system by putting its users at the centre of decisions and processes. This year, the events are centred on exploring the question, “What does people-centered justice look like?” Full event listings can be found on the Access to Justice BC website. You can also share your access to justice story on social media with the hashtag #A2JWeekBC.

Law Society hires Indigenous Navigator to increase cultural safety

The Law Society has hired an Indigenous Navigator to guide Indigenous complainants and witnesses through internal processes. A key component of the Indigenous Navigator’s role includes supporting staff and others involved in the process in understanding and identifying complainant and witnesses needs by promoting and supporting culturally competent and trauma-informed processes. This initiative is part of our commitment to remove systemic barriers; it is also Recommendation 3.2 in the Indigenous Engagement in Regulatory Matters Task Force report. To learn more, read the full report.

LawCast BC: New episode on Indigenous reconciliation

 

Listen to our new episode of LawCast BC on one of the most critical areas the Law Society is addressing: meaningful Indigenous reconciliation and cultural safety. Hear from Vicki George, Senior Advisor, Indigenous Engagement, who shares one component of her role that includes guiding the implementation of the Indigenous Engagement in Regulatory Matters Task Force’s recommendations. She also provides an introduction to the new role of the Law Society’s Indigenous Navigator, the importance of relationship building and the context that has informed the Law Society’s ongoing efforts and path toward reconciliation. Listen here, on SpotifyApple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

Indigenous Intercultural Course helps increase lawyer awareness

More than 99 per cent of lawyers who were required to complete the Indigenous Intercultural Course by January 1 have done so, with only 48 lawyers outstanding. If you were called since January 1, 2022 or have taken time away from practice since January 1, 2022, you can find the date by which you must certify completion by logging into the Member Portal and clicking on the certify completion link.

2024 Mental Health Forum shares strategies for individuals and firms

On February 6, 2024, more than 500 participants gathered virtually for part two of the Mental Health Forum, hosted by the Law Society and the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC (CLEBC). The event provided legal professionals with strategies for advancing their own mental health and practical guidelines for employers who want to improve mental health within their organization. If you missed the forum or are looking for additional mental health resources, check out the summary on our website.

Advocacy efforts decrease mortgage discharge delays

In 2022 the Law Society, along with the Notaries Public of BC and the Land Title Survey Authority, informed Consumer Protection BC of the failure of a number of banks to provide timely mortgage discharges following payout of the mortgages. Since then, Consumer Protection BC has obtained undertakings from 11 of the major banks and credit unions to correct their non-compliance with mortgage discharge requirements and made combined payments to the Consumer Advancement Fund of almost $12 million. In addition, 2023 saw a dramatic decrease from previous years in late filing of mortgage discharges.

Information for lawyers assisting purchasers of private managed forest land

BC Assessment would like to ensure that purchasers of private managed forest land are aware the land may be assessed at a higher value to account for the economic benefit of timber previously harvested, and that exit fees will be charged if the property is removed from managed forest land class. Prospective purchasers of property classed as private managed forest land are advised to inquire about previous timber harvesting on the property and its potential property tax implications. For more information contact the Managed Forest Council and BC Assessment.

Practice support and resources

Supreme Court practice directions and administrative notices

The Supreme Court of BC has issued a number of practice directions and administrative notices. The changes affect several areas, including bankruptcy proceedings, forms of address, consent adjournments and administrative matters. Visit the court’s website for details.

Guidance on the use of generative artificial intelligence tools

The use of generative artificial intelligence (AI) is raising questions about how lawyers can use these new tools in an ethical and responsible manner. The Law Society recently released a practice resource — Guidance on Professional Responsibility and Generative AI — to help lawyers consider the use of AI in their legal practice. The guidance provides information on professional responsibilities, including competency, confidentiality, honesty and candour, and duty to supervise. If you have further questions about AI, contact a practice advisor.

Federal Court’s interim principles on artificial intelligence

The Federal Court has released interim principles and guidelines on the use of AI in the courtroom. The guidelines emphasize that the court will not use AI and automated decision-making tools to make judgments and orders without first engaging in public consultation. These judgments and orders include the court’s determination of an issue raised by the parties or any decision made by the court in a proceeding as reflected by the court’s reasons for judgment and its reasons for order. More information can be found on the Federal Court’s website.

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal practice direction

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) has posted a practice direction on recording hearings, the use of court reporters and transcripts. This practice direction is part of the Tribunal’s ongoing efforts to create clarity and consistency in its approach and to provide guidance to the parties and the public in preparing for Tribunal proceedings. Visit the CHRT’s website for more information.

Updates to the Practice Checklists Manual

The Law Society’s Practice Checklists Manual is a professional reference for BC lawyers that includes checklists for client file opening and closing, client identification and verification, and the following practice areas: corporate and commercial, criminal, family, litigation, real estate, human rights and immigration. See the highlights and what’s new and notable. If you have a question or comment about the Practice Checklists Manual, contact a practice advisor at practiceadvice@lsbc.org or 604.443.5797.

New resources available through the Advice Decision-Making Assistant

Resources available through the Law Society’s Advice Decision-Making Assistant (ADMA) have been expanded. Each resource page has been updated to include a high-level summary to provide context at a glance, and new content provides legal professionals with more mental health support in the form of problem-solving tools. The new category, “Tackling Challenges in Your Practice,” suggests steps for proactively solving common challenges in legal practice and offers options for connecting with mentorship within the legal community. Check out “Tackling Challenges in Your Practice” and “Lawyer Well-Being” to see the new resources and recent improvements to ADMA’s interface.

Have your say: Help improve the Family Law Act

Do you have expertise or lived experience with family law topics such as caregiving and time spent with children, parenting assessments and reports, or protection from family violence? Your input could help improve the Family Law Act. See the discussion paper and surveys on govTogetherBC and provide your input before March 31, 2024.

Latest discipline news

Looking for news on discipline outcomes, conduct review summaries and admitted discipline violations? Head to our Disciplinary Outcomes section to stay updated on the latest information. Tribunal information, including hearing dates and outcomes, can be found on the LSBC Tribunal website.

News from Lawyers Indemnity Fund

Transparency obligations for federal corporations

As of January 22, 2024, corporations formed under the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA) are required to file certain information with respect to individuals with significant control with Corporations Canada. All CBCA corporations are subject to these obligations unless they fall within an exclusion. A CBCA corporation failing to comply may be subject to significant fines, administrative and criminal sanctions including the risk of dissolution. Find out more here.

New T3 filings required by March 2024 for trusts

Are you holding funds in a separate trust account for a client, perhaps as security for a builder’s lien, from an estate or trust distribution, or from the sale of real estate? Did you know that you will now need to file a T3 income tax return, unless exempt, for that trust account by the end of March 2024? New rules in the federal Income Tax Act will require T3 returns to be filed for many types of trusts for taxation years ending on or after December 31, 2023. Multiple T3 returns may need to be filed by a single law firm, and each can take considerable time to prepare. Read our previous Notice to Lawyers to learn more about the changes and exemptions.

Attention family law lawyers: New pet custody provisions now in force

Effective January 15, 2024, pursuant to Orders in Council 544/2023 and 545/2023, significant amendments to the Family Law Act on how to address ownership and possession of companion animals are now in force. (See s.97(4.1) to (4.3) (Clause 7(d) of B17) and our previous E-Brief item with respect to these and other significant amendments.

How to avoid funds transfer fraud

Recently, a BC lawyer unwittingly paid out funds from a trust account to cybercriminals. He thought his assistant completed the secondary verification, but the supposed verification actually came from the fraudster. Read our recent Notice to Lawyers to find out what happened.

What’s new in your 2024 indemnity policy

We get it: you don’t want to read your indemnity policy and would prefer to read that great book you just bought. But it’s important to your practice to understand what is covered and what is not, as well as any changes to your coverage.

In less than five minutes, you can learn about all the changes and enhancements to your indemnity coverage in the below video featuring LIF’s Chief Operating Officer, Su Forbes, KC.

Read an overview of the policy and answers to frequently asked questions about the program.

For the latest updates from LIF, follow us on X @Lifbc.