E-Brief: December 2020

2021-2025 Law Society Strategic Plan

The Benchers have adopted a new strategic plan that will guide the Law Society over the next five years. The plan has five main objectives: innovation in the regulation and education of the legal profession; working toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in the justice system; taking action to improve the availability of affordable legal services and access to justice; promoting diversity in an inclusive legal profession; and increasing public confidence in the Law Society and administration of justice. Read the full strategic plan here.

Access to Justice Vision for the Law Society

The Benchers adopted an Access to Justice Vision that addresses barriers to meaningful access to justice for the public and how the Law Society will enhance and reduce those barriers. The vision is available here.

Current status of member resolution regarding the Employment Standards Act and articling

Under the Legal Profession Act, the Benchers have 12 months to consider implementation of a resolution of a general meeting. Before any action is taken to implement the member resolution regarding the incorporation of certain parts of the Employment Standards Act into the articling agreement, the Benchers have been seeking the views of law firms and current and recent articled students through two online surveys. The surveys ask firms and students about compensation and hours of work. The results are expected to assist the Benchers in considering the resolution. No decision has been made yet by the Benchers on amending the Rules to provide for the suggested amendment to the articling agreement. At the current time, no changes have been made to the articling agreement.

Changes to qualifications for acting as a principal to articled students

The Benchers have approved in principle changing the rules for the minimum experience required to act as a principal from five out of the previous six years to five out of the previous eight years. The previous requirements had the unintended consequence of creating a barrier for lawyers who take time away from practice for family matters. The Benchers are expected to approve the necessary amendments to the Rules early in 2021.

Amendments to the Law Society Rules to permit use of consent agreements to resolve complaints

The Benchers approved amendments to the Law Society Rules to allow for pre-citation consent agreements to be used in circumstances where a hearing may not be necessary to protect the public interest. See the highlights of amendments here.

Video tribute to recipients of 50, 60 and 70-year certificates

Each year the Law Society honours longstanding members of the profession through the presentation of 50, 60 and 70-year certificates, in tribute to their cumulative years in the profession. For 2020, the Law Society created a special video presentation to celebrate the recipients, as the usual celebration event had to be postponed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Rule of Law Matters episode on the rise of authoritarianism, featuring Hon. Irwin Cotler

For part two of an examination of global authoritarianism and the rule of law, we welcome back renowned international human rights lawyer, professor and former Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable Irwin Cotler. Cotler takes listeners through what is happening in countries like China, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and he discusses with host Jon Festinger, QC how democracies like Canada have a responsibility to speak out, or else their silence emboldens authoritarian states. To listen to the Rule of Law Matters podcast, visit the Law Society’s website, or find the episode on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Secondary school essay contest on the rule of law

The Law Society invites BC grade 12 students and any secondary school students who have taken, or are currently enrolled in law 12, political studies 12, social justice 12 or social studies 11, to submit an essay on one of two topics: “How does civil disobedience impact the rule of law?” or “What role does the rule of law have in advancing reconciliation with Indigenous people?” The Law Society will select one winning essay and one runner up from the entries it receives overall. The winning entry will be awarded a $1,000 prize, and the runner up will receive $500. For further details, download the information sheet and submission guidelines.

Reminder: Use of Property Transfer Tax return PDF forms ends on December 14, 2020

Effective December 14, 2020, Property Transfer Tax returns must be submitted using the new web form as the following PDF forms will no longer be available: Property Transfer Tax Return (FIN 530) (PDF), Additional Property Transfer Tax Return (FIN 532) (PDF) and Property Transfer Tax Calculator for Residential (FIN536) (PDF). Calculating the additional property transfer tax and further two per cent tax on residential property over $3 million can be done in the new web form. The Property Tax Branch of the BC Ministry of Finance launched a new PTT return in July 2020 that aligns with LTSA’s new Web Filing. For more information, visit the ministry’s Information for Legal Professionals on Filing Property Transfer Tax web page. If you have questions, call 1.888.355.2700 or email pttenq@gov.bc.ca.


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