E-Brief: January 2019

Licensed paralegal update

The consultation on a draft proposal of possible services that could be provided by licensed paralegals closed on December 31. The Benchers will consider the feedback gathered from the consultation, as well as the resolutions adopted during the 2018 AGM, in considering the future of the licensed paralegal initiative.

Working group will continue to look at annual fees

In December 2018, the Annual Fee Review Working Group delivered its final report. The working group was established to look at reduced Law Society fees for public interest practitioners. The working group concluded that delineating which lawyers were public interest practitioners would be difficult, but did suggest the Benchers look more generally at the longstanding practice of charging the same practice and insurance fees to all lawyers. The Benchers asked the working group to look at possible alternatives to the fee-setting model that is currently used by the Law Society.

Benchers establish Futures Task Force

The Benchers have approved the creation of a Futures Task Force to look at the future of the legal profession and legal regulation in British Columbia. The task force is expected to identify anticipated changes that may improve or disrupt the future market for legal services, consider and evaluate the factors and forces driving those changes, as well as make recommendations to the Benchers regarding the implications and how the Law Society and the legal profession might respond to the anticipated changes.

National Mobility Agreement with Barreau du Quebec

At their most recent meeting, the Benchers voted in favour of allowing members of the Barreau du Quebec, who apply to transfer to BC and who satisfy the terms of the National Mobility Agreement 2013, to be registered to practise law in British Columbia. The decision does not affect the inability of BC lawyers to transfer to Quebec at this time. The Act and Rules Committee will now develop rule changes for approval by the Benchers at their March meeting.

Crossing borders with electronic devices – Canada, the United States and beyond

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada, with the assistance of Law Society policy and practice advice counsel, has developed a new resource: "Crossing the Border with Electronic Devices: What Canadian Legal Professionals Should Know." The resource describes the risks of travelling with electronic devices when returning to Canada, when going through pre-clearance with US border officials in Canada, and when travelling to the US and beyond and includes recommendations to minimize the risks of compromising professional responsibilities. For questions or comments, please contact Barbara Buchanan, QC at bbuchanan@lsbc.org or 604.697.5816.

Fake law firms and lawyers

A fake BC law firm, HildeBrandt LLP, has a sophisticated website (currently www.hildebrandtllp.com) advertising legal services and purporting to have a number of lawyers working out of a downtown Vancouver office. If you are contacted by a lawyer you do not know, independently verify the lawyer's name and contact information from their website information to ensure that you are dealing with a legitimate lawyer. For more information, see "Recent scam attempts against BC lawyers," pp. 12-13 in the Winter 2018 Bencher's Bulletin. Report scams to Barbara Buchanan, QC at bbuchanan@lsbc.org.

Civil Resolution Tribunal exclusive jurisdiction over "minor injury"

Effective April 1, 2019, the Civil Resolution Tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction to determine if an injury is a "minor injury" and entitlement to certain accident benefits. A "minor injury limit" of $5,500 applies to claims arising from BC accidents on or after April 1, 2019. If the motor vehicle claim filed is not a "minor injury," the CRT can still decide liability and damages for claims up to $50,000. Note, where a claim is determined to be improperly brought before either the CRT or BC Supreme Court, there is a 28-day limitation period for filing the claim in the correct forum with certain limits on recoverable fees and expenses. See Insurance (Vehicle) Act, Minor Injury Regulation, Bill 22: Civil Resolution Tribunal Amendment Act, 2018 and Accident Claims Regulations for more information.

Tax law for purchasers of private managed forest land

BC Assessment would like to alert lawyers who represent purchasers of private managed forest land to two consequences of the purchase: purchasers may be responsible for paying taxes on timber previously harvested by the vendor; and purchasers may be responsible for paying exit fees to the Managed Forest Council if the property is removed from managed forest class. More information on managed forest land classification and assessment is available on BC Assessment's website.

From the courts

The BC Supreme Court has amended the Access to Court Records policy to reflect access related to judicial records with respect to cannabis ticketable offences. The amended policy may be found here.

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