E-Brief: April 2019

Proposal to modernize annual general meetings

The Law Society is looking to take the next step in modernizing annual general meetings and how members of the legal profession may participate in them. The 2018 AGM demonstrated both a strong demand for increased online access and some challenges with participating. The Benchers are considering a proposal that provides for online voting in advance of the AGM combined with continued in-person attendance and voting at the current AGM locations. The Governance Committee’s proposal will be considered by the Benchers at the May meeting. If adopted, members will have the opportunity to vote in a referendum to authorize the Benchers to amend the AGM rules.

Changes coming to no cash and trust account rules

Benchers are considering rule changes in regard to trust accounts and cash transactions. Under the proposed rule changes, trust accounts must only be used in connection with legal services, and funds that are not directly related to legal services must not be paid into or out of a trust account. Amendments to the “no cash rule” include changes to some definitions and revising the limit to $7,500 from “less than $7,500.” The changes are being made as part of the Law Society’s ongoing commitment to help protect against money laundering. Benchers will be presented with proposed rule changes for approval at an upcoming meeting.

LifeWorks resources for lawyer wellness

The Benchers received a presentation from LifeWorks Canada Ltd. on the program of benefits available at no cost to all individual BC lawyers and articled students and their immediate families. LifeWorks is a full-service employee assistance program that provides confidential consultations, information and resources, connections to community agencies, and referrals to counselling. They may provide assistance in the areas of work, life, health, family or money. More information on how to access LifeWorks programs can be found on the Law Society website.

Province to increase transparency of land ownership, share ownership

The provincial government introduced the Land Owner Transparency Act which, when passed, will establish a public registry of beneficial owners of property in BC. The act will require corporations, trusts and partnerships to disclose their beneficial owners in the registry and imposes fines for a failure to disclose. The BC government also introduced amendments to the Business Corporations Act that will require private companies to hold accurate and up-to-date information about the true owners of their shares and eliminate unregistered shares owned by the certificate holder. More information on these changes may be found here.

Amendments to Law Society Rules

The Benchers approved amendments to several Law Society Rules: 1) The Law Society may publish limitations and conditions placed on a lawyer who is subject to an interim order under Rule 3-10; and 2) Quebec lawyers may transfer to BC under the terms of the National Mobility Agreement 2013, notwithstanding that a reciprocal provision for BC lawyers has not been finalized. Click here for highlights of amendments.

Vancouver Airport Authority appointment

The Law Society is seeking expressions of interest for appointment as the Law Society’s nominee to the Vancouver Airport Authority’s Board of Directors. The Law Society is working with Watson Advisors in considering potential nominees. For more information about the Vancouver Airport Authority and the requirements for the position, click here.

Discipline advisory: private lending

Lawyers are encouraged to review the latest discipline advisory on private lending that was recently posted to the Law Society website. While most private loans are legitimate, they do pose an increased risk of illegal activity. Private lending transactions are one means by which proceeds of crime can be laundered, and lawyers should take additional steps to protect themselves.


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