E-Brief: April 2021

“How are you doing?” – a virtual chat about the pandemic’s impact on mental health

The Law Society of BC is hosting two virtual sessions for BC lawyers to come together and check in with each other and to talk about what to do to improve mental health and well-being within the legal profession. Law Society President Dean Lawton, QC, will say a few opening remarks before opening the floor to you for an engaging dialogue facilitated by Brook Greenberg, QC, Cheryl D’Sa (for the afternoon session) and Kendra Milne (for the evening session). To register, email mentalhealth@lsbc.org with your name and indicate whether you wish to attend the lunch session (12:45 – 1:45 pm) or evening session (5:30 – 6:30 pm). See the event web page for details.

Family law mediators, family law arbitrators and parenting coordinators’ use of trust accounts for retainers

In light of information from lawyers who act as legal counsel and also as family law mediators, arbitrators or parenting coordinators about their difficulties in segregating the retainer between the services provided, the Benchers agreed in principle that Rule 3-58.1 be amended to allow retainers for family law mediation, arbitration and parenting coordination services to be deposited to lawyer trust accounts.

Clarifications on the use of bank drafts

The Benchers approved in principle amending the Law Society Rules to set out how lawyers may use bank drafts to withdraw trust funds and to strengthen the audit trail in relation to the use of bank drafts. The matter has been referred to the Act and Rules Committee for drafting amendments to be approved at a future meeting.

A new logo for the Law Society

The Benchers accepted the Governance Committee’s recommendation for the Law Society’s logo to be updated with a design that reflects and is representative of a modern public interest regulator. The Governance Committee will consider the next steps in the preparation of a design presentation.

Bencher by-election in District of Kamloops: Call for nominations

Nominations of candidates in the upcoming Bencher by-election in the District of Kamloops close at 5:00 pm on Monday, May 17, 2021. Please send nomination forms by email to BencherRelations@lsbc.org. Nomination forms may be downloaded from the Bencher election page on the Law Society website. For more information, see the Notice to the Profession.

Continuing Legal Education Society and BC Law Institute board vacancies

The Law Society is currently seeking expressions of interest for appointments as the Law Society’s nominees to the British Columbia Law Institute Board of Directors and to the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC Board of Directors. Further information about these opportunities is available here. For more information about the appointments process and requirements for each board position, see our Appointments Guidebook. The deadline for applications is 5:00 pm, Wednesday, May 5, 2021. You may submit an application online.

Articling offers by downtown Vancouver firms to stay open until August 20

Offers of articling positions made in 2021 by law firms whose offices are in downtown Vancouver must remain open until 8:00 am on Friday, August 20, 2021. Downtown Vancouver is defined as the area in the city of Vancouver west of Carrall Street and north of False Creek. The deadline applies to offers made to both first- and second-year law students, but it does not affect offers made to third-year law students or offers of summer positions (temporary articles). For more information, read the web highlight.

Gladue report program now administered BC First Nations Justice Council

As of April 1, 2021, the Gladue Report program in BC is being administered by the BC First Nations Justice Council (BCFNJC). Defence counsel may request a Gladue Report by going to the BCFNJC website. Defence counsel will need to sign up for an account with the Gladue Information Management System (GIMS). There is information on the website on how to do so, along with a video on how to use GIMS.

BC Budget 2021: Updates to appeal process and changes to definition of beneficial owner in Speculation and Vacancy Tax Act

In Budget 2021, the provincial government made changes to the appeal process for the following: the Carbon Tax Act, Employer Health Tax Act, Forest Act, Income Tax Act, Insurance Premium Tax Act, International Business Activity Act, Logging Tax Act, Mineral Tax Act, Motor Fuel Tax Act, Property Transfer Tax Act, Provincial Sales Tax Act, Speculation and Vacancy Tax Act and Tobacco Tax Act. The changes will allow parties to appeal a Supreme Court of British Columbia decision without having to first obtain leave of a justice of the Court of Appeal. The Property Transfer Act was also amended to limit a taxpayer’s choice of arbitration to disputes about fair market value. For more information, including a copy of the new Notice of Arbitration (FIN 292), see Bulletin GEN 002 – Appeals or visit the web page.

Changes were also made to the Speculation and Vacancy Tax Act to clarify the scope of "beneficial interest" as it applies to the definition of "beneficial owner." A beneficial interest contingent on the death of another individual no longer qualifies an individual as a beneficial owner. The amendment will be retroactive to November 27, 2018 and will be available to people for the 2018 and 2019 speculation and vacancy tax years and going forward. For more information, see the web page on BC provincial budget tax changes.

Land owner transparency requirements in BC

As of November 30, 2020, on an application to register an interest in land, each transferee must file a transparency declaration and, if necessary, a transparency report with the administrator of the Land Owner Transparency Registry (LOTR). By November 30, 2021, clients of legal practitioners that are holding an interest in land as a reporting body – a relevant corporation, relevant trust or relevant partnership, as defined by LOTA – are required to file a transparency report in LOTR or be at risk of enforcement action. Visit the LOTR’s web page on policy help, the government’s web page for enforcement information and resources regarding interpretation, and subscribe here to receive emails with the most recent updates. Also, beginning April 30, 2021 the public will be able to pay a fee to search LOTR by using my LTSA Explorer.

From LIF

Risk Management Video Series – Suspension of limitation periods

Attention civil litigators: All you need to know about the lifting of the suspension on March 25
So far during COVID, we have already received many reports from lawyers because of confusion about which limitations and deadlines are suspended and which are not. In this video, Maryanne Prohl, our Director of Risk Management, will explain the impact of the suspension and how to calculate your new limitation periods. And in case you missed it, she’ll also provide two reminders about limitations in other areas. We urge civil litigators to take just a couple minutes to watch this video to avoid future claims and review the detailed guidelines for calculating your new limitation periods. For the latest updates from LIF, follow us on Twitter @Lifbc.

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