E-Brief: May 2023

Reminder: Indigenous Intercultural Course

The Law Society Indigenous Intercultural Course will help BC lawyers increase their Indigenous cultural awareness and understanding. The online course must be completed by all practising lawyers by January 1, 2024, or within two years after a lawyer begins or returns to practice. To learn more, read the FAQs.

Benchers review recommendations to improve Indigenous cultural safety in legal regulation

The Law Society is taking steps to ensure legal regulation is an accessible and culturally safe process for all Indigenous individuals. In 2021, we established the Indigenous Engagement in Regulatory Matters Task Force to review our processes and make recommendations to improve our ability to effectively engage, address and accommodate Indigenous complainants and witnesses. The task force has drafted a report that contains recommendations to address systemic barriers to Indigenous cultural safety. To ensure sufficient time for review and discussion of the report by Indigenous organizations and communities, the Benchers received the report at the April meeting and will make decisions on recommendations at the July meeting. For more information and to read the full report, visit our website.

Benchers approve development of new training for principal lawyers

The Benchers have approved the development of an online training course for lawyers serving as principals to articled students. The course will contain a series of modules and will be a mandatory requirement for all principal lawyers, regardless of experience. This training will qualify a lawyer to be a principal for a five-year period, will be offered at no cost and will be eligible for CPD credit in an amount to be determined by the Executive Director. To learn more, read the Lawyer Development Task Force report here.

Save the date: Join us on June 23 for the Mental Health Forum

Improving mental health for legal professionals in BC is a key priority for the Law Society. This year, in partnership with the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC, we will be hosting a two-part Mental Health Forum on June 23 and October 3, 2023 from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. The virtual events will feature impactful speakers, practical strategies and advice for advancing mental health within the legal profession. Stay tuned for registration and program information.

Annual General Meeting: Tuesday, June 27, 2023

The Law Society's 2023 Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held at 12:30 pm (PDT) on Tuesday, June 27 as an entirely virtual meeting. Any member resolutions to be considered at the 2023 AGM must be submitted electronically, signed by two members in good standing, and be received by the Executive Director via email to AGM@lsbc.org no later than 5 pm on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. More information about the AGM is available on our website, and further details about the meeting will be provided in the Second Notice of the AGM in early June.

2023 Law Society Award recipient

The Benchers have selected Eloise Spitzer as the recipient of the 2023 Law Society Award for her more than 40 years of extraordinary impact on the legal profession and the administration of justice. Her extensive contributions to Indigenous reconciliation and women’s equality, as well as her continued involvement in and dedication to the mentorship of young lawyers, makes her a worthy recipient of this award. Ms. Spitzer will be presented with the Law Society Award at this year’s Bench & Bar Dinner, which is taking place on June 15, 2023.

Save the date: Chief Justice Robert Bauman’s retirement celebration

A celebration for the Honourable Chief Justice Robert Bauman will be held on September 8, 2023 at 5:30 pm at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. Tickets for the event will go on sale on June 1, 2023 on the CBABC website.

Additions to the Code of Professional Conduct on ex parte and single-party communication rules

As recommended by the Ethics and Lawyer Independence Advisory Committee, the Benchers have adopted new provisions to the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia, adding rules 5.1-2.2 and 5.1-2.3 on ex parte proceedings and single-party communications with a tribunal. The new rules and commentaries provide better guidance to lawyers on their duties in ex parte proceedings and when communicating with a court or tribunal, and reflect the recent addition to the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s model code. Questions? Contact Practice Advice at practiceadvice@lsbc.org or 604.443.5797, or book an appointment.

New legislation proposed for collecting money owed following a civil court decision

The proposed Money Judgment Enforcement Act aims to simplify the process of collecting money owed to people following a civil court decision. The legislation may reduce the need for people to involve the courts by streamlining the process for collecting money owed through courts or tribunals, such as the Residential Tenancy Branch or Civil Resolution Tribunal. The legislation is expected to be brought into force through regulation in 2025. Learn more here.

New webinar: Land Owner Transparency Registry filing requirements and ongoing obligations

Learn more about the Land Owner Transparency Registry (LOTR) filings by attending a webinar on June 13, 2023 from 11 am–12 pm. The webinar will cover topics including transparency declarations and reports, applications to correct information, applications to omit information and notices to the administrator. Ongoing filing obligations will be reviewed in detail and resources for policy, practice and system functionality will also be highlighted. The objective of this course is to advance customer knowledge, reduce LOTR filing errors and encourage self-help through available online resources. You can register here.

Updates to addressing clerks and sheriffs in court

In an effort to create a more inclusive environment for staff, the BC Court Services Branch is asking that clerks and deputy sheriffs be addressed by “deputy sheriff” or “court clerk,” effective now. This change is consistent with prior practice directions from the BC Provincial CourtBC Supreme Court and BC Court of Appeal on the use of pronouns and addressing court staff and legal professionals. For more information on inclusive language, read our guide for lawyers here. Any questions or concerns about this change can be directed to CSBfeedback@gov.bc.ca.

Translation policy for documents requiring BC authentication

The final policy for the translation program has been released by the BC government. In order to be submitted for authentication, all documents must be translated to English then notarized as a set with the translated and original language copies together. There are two options for translation. First, by an accredited translator under the Society of Translators and Interpreters of BC or the Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council.

The second option is to have documents translated by a BC notary public who is fluent in both languages and registered with the Ministry of Attorney General. Click here for more information, including exceptions to this policy and sample templates for submitting documents for authentication.

Articling offers by downtown Vancouver firms to stay open until August 18

All offers of articling positions made in 2023 by law firms with offices in downtown Vancouver must remain open until 8 am on Friday, August 18, 2023. Downtown Vancouver is defined as the area in the city of Vancouver west of Carrall Street and north of False Creek. Set by the Credentials Committee under Rule 2-58, the deadline applies to offers made to both first- and second-year law students. The deadline does not affect offers made to third-year law students or offers of summer positions (temporary articles). For more information, read the web highlight.

Continuing Legal Education Society of BC appointments

The Law Society is seeking expressions of interest from practising lawyers who wish to be considered as a Law Society appointee to the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC’s Board of Directors for a three-year term. In particular, candidates from Vancouver County are encouraged to submit an application and supporting resume online. Further information about this opportunity can be found here. For more information about the appointments process and requirements for each board position, see our Appointments Guidebook. The deadline for applications is 5 pm on Wednesday, May 10, 2023.

2023 second instalment – annual fee invoice is due May 31, 2023

Lawyers can access and download their invoice for the second instalment of the 2023 annual fee through the Member Portal. For information regarding the invoice, contact the Registration and Licensee Services department at registration@lsbc.org or 604.605.5311.

Latest discipline news

Looking for news on discipline outcomes, conduct review summaries and admitted discipline violations? Head to our Disciplinary Outcomes section to stay updated on the latest information. Tribunal information, including hearing dates and outcomes, can be found on the LSBC Tribunal website.

Latest news from the Lawyer’s Indemnity Fund  

Significant changes to Canada’s foreign buyer ban

On March 27, significant amendments were made to the Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act (the "Act"), including:

  • Threshold of foreign ownership, for an entity formed in Canada to be subject to the Act, increased from 3 per cent to 10 per cent (see “control” under s.1 of the amended Act);
  • Non-Canadians are now allowed to purchase residential property for development (see 4(2)(e));
  • The Act no longer applies to vacant land that is zoned for residential or mixed use (3(2) is repealed); and
  • Flexibility for temporary residents holding a work permit to purchase residential property has been increased (see 5(b)(i) to (iii)).

Review our table for a summary of some of the key sections and amendments, highlighted in red, to the Act and Regulations. This should not be a substitute for reading the legislation. (See our previous Notice to Lawyers for more information on the Act.)

In case you missed it

2022 in review

Take three minutes to watch this video of LIF’s Chief Operating Officer, Su Forbes, KC, as she shares the program changes and highlights in 2022. Review our concise digital annual report or download a pdf of our comprehensive Program Report.

Income tax — it’s risky business

Practising tax law sometimes feels like walking a tightrope without a net. One small misstep can have drastic consequences. And the world of tax law is in perpetual motion; a good tax plan today might be a bad plan tomorrow. Each year, we receive 20 to 25 tax-related claims. While this number may seem relatively small, the potential losses are not. In fact, they often exceed the limits of the policy. In this three-minute video, Claims Counsel Marlon Song reveals the most common tax mistakes and our top tips to help you avoid them. (See our Notice to Lawyers for more information.)

Three more BC law firms fall victim to funds transfer frauds

Review our recent Notice to Lawyers to learn about the details of these funds transfer frauds and additional resources. Any time you are transferring trust funds by any means, you are at risk for cyber crime and must verify emailed instructions through direct phone or in-person contact with the party purporting to provide the instructions. If the instructions appear to come from your client, contact your client in person or by using the original phone number in the file.

Verification will reduce your deductible from 35 per cent of the indemnified loss to 15 per cent. You can download this checklist and use it for every payment.

If you think you have been a victim of a funds transfer fraud, immediately notify your bank and request a claw back of the funds. Next, contact your IT department and cyber insurer (Coalition or other) to ensure the fraudster is not lurking in your system, and then report to us.

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