E-Brief: December 2018

2018 Annual General Meeting concludes

The Law Society's annual general meeting concluded on December 4, with over 1,700 members participating online and in person. In addition to approving the 2018 auditor, members voted on three resolutions. A resolution calling for the Benchers to continue advocating for legal aid funding and encouraging pro bono, as well as one directing the Benchers to ask that the provincial government not bring into force changes to the Legal Profession Act, or authorize licensed paralegals to practise in the area of family law, were adopted. A resolution calling for lawyers to perform a minimum of 10 pro bono hours a year as a condition of their licensing was defeated. Detailed voting results are available on the Law Society website.

New legislation enables Law Society to regulate licensed paralegals

On November 27, Bill 57 – the Attorney General Statutes Amendments Act – was given Royal Assent. The bill includes provisions that when brought into force by regulation would enable the Benchers to authorize licensed paralegals to provide independent legal services and enable Benchers to determine what licensed paralegals would be authorized to do. The present consultation regarding possible family law licensed paralegals continues until December 31, 2018, following which the Benchers will take time to consider the opportunities for licensed paralegals. The consultation paper can be found here. Lawyers may submit their views on the draft proposal to consultation2018@lsbc.org.

Second Legal Aid Colloquium

On November 17th, the Law Society held its second Legal Aid Colloquium. The Honourable Bruce Cohen, QC moderated the discussions that brought together a variety of stakeholders, including many people and organizations whose views can inform a broader discussion about the structure of legal aid and its delivery. Participants included service organizations with clients whose needs include legal advice and representation. The colloquium produced a range of views and perspectives that will help inform the Law Society's efforts to improve legal aid funding through engagement with the profession, the public and the provincial government.

Benchers approve recommendations from Mental Health Task Force 

At the December 7 meeting, the Benchers approved the policy recommendations delivered in the Mental Health Task Force interim report. In 2019, Law Society staff will begin implementation of 13 recommendations highlighted in the report, which include designing educational training programs for Law Society employees and establishing a communications strategy to enhance awareness on the issue. The first interim report is available here.

Annual Fee Review final report

The Annual Fee Review Working Group delivered its final report at the December 7 Benchers meeting. The report discusses the results of the member consultation held over the summer and recommends against providing public interest practitioners with reduced rates of practice and insurance fees. However, in light of the information provided in the submissions, the working group did encourage the Benchers to consider variations or alternatives to the fee-setting model that is currently used by the Law Society. The recommendations will be up for decision by the Benchers early next year.

Vancouver County by-election results

Jacqueline McQueen has been elected a Bencher in the November 15, 2018 by-election for Vancouver County. For more information on the newly elected Bencher, read the website highlight.

Attorney General recognizes exceptional lawyers with Queen's Counsel designation

On December 10, Attorney General David Eby, QC announced the names of lawyers who are being honoured with the Queen's Counsel designation for their contributions to the legal profession. The government announcement may be found here.

New strata assignment requirements effective January 1, 2019

Lawyers acting for developers should become familiar with new disclosure, reporting and document retention requirements for assignments of new and pre-existing strata purchase agreements. Developers who do not comply may face marketing restrictions and significant fines or penalties (first offence up to $1.25 million, subsequent offences up to $2.5 million, and significant administrative penalties). See Policy Statement 16, Information Bulletin and creation of a Condo and Strata Assignment Integrity Register for more information.

From the courts

The Supreme Court of BC has amended an Administrative Notice that was originally issued on November 5, 2018. The Notice has been updated to clarify that it pertains to Registry Vetting of Orders in Civil and Family Proceedings, and does not apply to criminal proceedings.

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