E-Brief: March 2019

Law Society to lead legal aid coalition

The Law Society will continue its efforts to encourage increased funding for legal aid by developing a coalition of organizations and individuals to raise public awareness of the current difficulties vulnerable British Columbians face in finding legal assistance to help resolve their legal issues. The efforts of the coalition will reflect the Law Society's Vision for Publicly Funded Legal Aid and the experiences shared by front line agencies and workers at the Law Society's second legal aid colloquium to emphasize the need for greater funding.

Licensed Paralegal Task Force

The Benchers have established a Licensed Paralegal Task Force to consult broadly with the profession and others to identify opportunities for the delivery of legal services by licensed paralegals that would benefit the public in areas where there is a substantial unmet legal need. The task force will consider the scope of services that would be appropriate for licensed paralegals to provide, and the education, qualifications, credentials and experience necessary for licensed paralegals to deliver legal services in a competent and ethical manner. The task force further develops the work of the Alternate Legal Service Provider Working Group and will take into consideration consultations by the working group along with comments at the annual general meeting last year.

Enhancing login security of the Member Portal

In order to improve the security of members' personal information, the Law Society is taking steps to enhance the login to the online Member Portal by requiring every member to have a unique username. Members who already have unique usernames (surnames) will not be affected. However, as of today, you will be able to create a username other than your surname by logging into the Member Portal. Members who do not have a unique username will be prompted to create a new one when they attempt to login. The process of creating a unique username is easy and quick. However, if you encounter issues in updating your username, you are encouraged to contact Member Services at 604-605-5311.

Updates to CPD requirements

A number of modifications to the CPD requirements commenced January 1, 2019. A new carry-over model has been introduced, where lawyers are permitted to carry-over up to six CPD credits from one year to the next. Additionally, lawyers may now receive credit for writing for law firm or other websites if the content is substantially related to law or legal education, and may receive credit for viewing a previously recorded course without the presence of another lawyer or articled student. Further changes on eligible activities related to mentoring, writing and teaching are available on the Law Society website.

Amendments to the Law Society Rules

The Benchers amended the rules governing discipline pre-hearing conferences to facilitate more effective and efficient case management. Click here for highlights of amendments.

Benchers' Bulletin, Insurance Issues and Member's Manual amendments moving to electronic form

All Law Society publications are now transitioning entirely to electronic distribution. Currently, 97% of members receive our publications in electronic form and at no cost. Members who have indicated that they want to receive our publications on paper will still be able to obtain paper copies by printing them directly from the Law Society website. Issues of the Benchers' Bulletin, Insurance Issues and Member's Manual amendment packages are published in PDF on the Law Society website (see News and Publications, Insurance Issues and Member's Manual). Anyone who encounters issues with accessing the electronic versions may contact communications@lsbc.org for assistance.

Civil Resolution Tribunal exclusive jurisdiction over entitlement to "benefits"

Effective April 1, 2019, actions for "benefits" (Part 7 benefits - now expanded) must be commenced in the CRT. A notice issued in compliance with the new section 103 may suspend the limitation period indefinitely for claims for "benefits" where ICBC has not issued a written response. Lawyers should also be aware of changes that reduce monetary awards in the tort claim (see section 67.1 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation and section 83 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act). The January E-Brief provides more information about the CRT's exclusive jurisdiction over "minor injury." The Lawyers Insurance Fund strongly recommends that lawyers who practise in this area learn about the fundamental changes to motor vehicle claims and the new CRT regime. In April, Continuing Legal Education is providing a course on the matter.

SCC finds lawyer liable for over $7 million for making a referral

In Salomon v. Matte-Thompson the Supreme Court of Canada found a lawyer and his firm liable for over $7 million for investment losses for referring their clients to a financial advisor who later turned out to be involved in a Ponzi scheme. Gascon J., writing for the majority, stated:

[96] This is not a case about a mere referral. It concerns a referring lawyer who, over the course of several years, recommended and endorsed a financial advisor and financial products, and encouraged his clients to retain their investments with that advisor. Further, in doing this, he failed to perform adequate due diligence, misrepresented investment information, committed breaches of confidentiality and acted despite being in a conflict of interest. In such a context, a lawyer cannot avoid liability by hiding behind the high threshold for establishing liability that applies in a case in which a lawyer has merely referred a client.

When referring a client, act "competently, prudently and diligently" and satisfy yourself that the professional or advisor is sufficiently competent for the mandate. Stick to your knitting - know what you do well and more importantly do not step into areas outside of your expertise.

Tuition tax receipts

PLTC students now have access on the main page of the Member Portal to download the 2018 T2202A PLTC Certificate, if applicable. T2202A is an official tax receipt that is issued to all students who paid tuition for qualifying PLTC courses in the previous calendar year. It shows the amount of tuition that can be deducted for income tax purposes as well as the number of months eligible for the education deduction. For more information on filling out income tax returns, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website.

From the LTSA

Although the Juricert service fee will not increase, many other Land Title and Survey Authority customer service fees will increase as of April 1, 2019. The LTSA will use revenue from the fee increase to address the impact of inflation on operations. Read more on the LTSA website.

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