E-Brief: February 2023

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Mental Health Task Force recommendations approved by the Benchers

The Law Society’s Mental Health Task Force presented three recommendations to the Benchers, which were approved at the February 3 meeting. The first recommendation is to create a roster of pro bono support counsel to assist lawyers who, for reasons that may be related to health issues, do not respond to Law Society communications. The second recommendation is to develop or adopt expert systems tools to facilitate access to appropriate support, resources and referrals for mental health and substance use issues. The third recommendation is to host a mental health forum to raise awareness within the legal community about the findings and recommendations of the National Study on the Psychological Health Determinants of Legal Professionals in Canada.

Indigenous Intercultural Course requirement

The Indigenous Intercultural Course provides background and education for British Columbia lawyers to help increase their Indigenous cultural awareness and understanding. It provides information regarding the colonization of BC and Canada and the lasting impacts of discriminatory laws and policies that were imposed on Indigenous peoples. The course is revisited frequently for updating so we welcome your feedback, and are grateful for the feedback we have received so far.

The course must be completed by practising lawyers by January 1, 2024, or two years after a lawyer begins or returns to practice. Lawyers will be able to claim up to six hours of CPD credit for completing the course, which can be accessed easily through the Member Portal on the Law Society website. To learn more about the course or how to certify completion, review the FAQS.

Law Society welcomes new President, Vice Presidents, and Bencher

Oaths of office were taken by four Benchers each starting in a new role at the latest Bencher meeting on February 3. Christopher A. McPherson, KC began his term as president of the Law Society for 2023 with Jeevyn Dhaliwal, KC as first vice-president and Brook Greenberg, KC as second vice-president. Newly elected Bencher Tim Delaney also took his oath of office. The oaths of office were administered by the Honourable Chief Justice Robert J. Bauman and followed by an Indigenous welcome by Chief Janice George.

Consultation: Have your say on trust accounting rules

The Law Society is seeking your input on trust accounting and client identification and verification rules. In this online consultation, have your say on the current rules and share ideas about potential opportunities for improvement. Your responses will inform the work of the Trust Review Task Force as it considers recommendations of the Cullen Commission, and considers the current rules and develops a set of uniform rules in anticipation of a single legal regulator.

The consultation will remain available until 11:59 pm on February 16, 2023 and can be accessed through this link.

Masters Chambers e-filing pilot project now in progress on Vancouver Island

As set out in COVID-19 Notice No. 54, the Supreme Court of BC began a pilot in August 2022 that allows e-filing of binders for Masters Chambers through Court Services Online. The pilot is available at registries in Victoria, Nanaimo, Duncan, Port Alberni, Courtenay and Campbell River for matters 30 minutes or less. If the pilot is successful it may be expanded to other areas of BC. Detailed instructions about working with PDFs can be found here.

Have you been asked to witness nonsense documents? 

The Law Society recommends that lawyers refuse to notarize or witness pseudo-legal or nonsense documents proposed to be filed for court processes or in the land title registry. A lawyer’s signature and seal should not be used to lend credibility to such documents. General tips about witnessing a signature can be found here. If you have questions, contact practiceadvice@lsbc.org.

Personal injury claim reminder: Notice and cooperation obligations

Are you a personal injury lawyer filing a damages claim? If the Healthcare Cost Recovery Act (HCCRA) applies, lawyers are obligated to include a health-care services claim in a legal proceeding, with limited exceptions. Lawyers are required to notify the government of legal proceedings by providing notice in the prescribed form along with a copy of the originating documents within 21 days of commencing the proceeding. There is also a duty to give at least 21 days’ notice before entering into a settlement. Section 11 of the HCCRA requires lawyers to cooperate with the Ministry by responding to their requests for information. For more information, see the Third Party Liability - Health Care Costs Recovery Act and the Law Society’s General Litigation Procedure Checklist. For questions, contact the HCCRA service inbox (aghccraservice@gov.bc.ca).

Updated Cloud Computing Checklist

A new Cloud Computing Checklist for lawyers is available as of January 2023 and can be found here. This practice resource offers many assets to lawyers, including access to an array of new software services and applications, the ability to access data virtually and the reduction of large capital outlays. If you have questions, contact practiceadvice@lsbc.org. Recommendations for improving or updating the policies reflected in the checklist can be sent to Doug Munro at dmunro@lsbc.org.

Rule of Law essay contest for secondary school students

BC secondary school students in grade 12, or who have taken or are currently enrolled in Law 12, Political Studies 12, Social Justice 12 or Social Studies 11, are invited to submit an essay on the following topic: How has the rule of law affected — positively, adversely or otherwise — the advancement of minority rights in Canada? The deadline for submissions is April 21, 2023. For further details on the topic and submission guidelines, visit the website.

Apply now: Law Society scholarships

Applicants are invited to apply for the Indigenous Scholarship and the Law Society Scholarship for Graduate Legal Studies for 2023. The two $20,000 scholarships are offered on an annual basis and applicants have until April 30, 2023 to submit their applications. For further information on how to apply and eligibility requirements, please visit the website.

Tribunal Chairs Roundtable welcomes new members

The LSBC Tribunal is pleased to announce that William G. MacLeod, KC, Mandana Namazi, Michael Shirreff and Angela Westmacott, KC, have joined the Chairs Roundtable. These accomplished lawyers regularly appear before the Tribunal and are uniquely positioned to provide thoughtful input on its policies, processes, practices and procedures. The Tribunal is still seeking members of the public who are interested in joining the Roundtable. If you or someone you know have been involved in any capacity with the Tribunal (perhaps as a witness, court reporter, policy advisor or interpreter), please forward an expression of interest to TribunalChair@lsbc.org. The Tribunal also invites everyone to use its online feedback form to provide suggestions on how it can improve its website or processes.

From Lawyers Indemnity Fund

Foreign buyers now banned from purchasing residential property

Are you aware that an entity formed in Canada – but with direct or indirect ownership of three per cent or more of the value of equity or of the voting rights by a “non-Canadian” – is subject to the Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act (the "Act")? Review our recent Notice to Lawyers to learn more about the Act and the Regulations. Also don’t miss our table that provides a summary of some of the key sections of the Act and Regulations.

Reminder: BC’s mandatory cooling-off period now in force

Purchasers of residential property now have a statutory right to rescind their offer to purchase a residential property within three business days after an offer has been accepted by serving written notice. A purchaser cannot waive their statutory right of rescission. If the offer is rescinded, an amount equal to 0.25 per cent of the purchase price of the property must be paid to the seller. Learn more about the act, including exceptions, here.

Was your action suspended? You have until March 26 to file your Notice of Civil Claim

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many limitation periods for starting a civil or family action in the BC Supreme Court were suspended on March 26, 2020 and lifted on March 25, 2021. For causes of action that arose after the suspension of limitation periods but before March 25, 2021, the limitation period expires on March 26, 2023. Find more information here.

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Send your comments or questions to communications@lsbc.org.