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Our latest news highlights:

Supreme Court civil hearing day fees resume

[posted July 19, 2016]

Effective August 1, 2016, the Court Services Branch will resume invoicing and collecting hearing day fees, as outlined in the Supreme Court Civil Rules Appendix C, Schedule 1, Item 9 and Item 10. Any Supreme Court civil trial or hearing set after August 1, 2016 will be invoiced, and unless ordered otherwise, payment will be due forthwith from the party who filed the notice of trial or filed the documents to set the hearings.

Court Services Branch is considering the impact of the Supreme Court of Canada decision on the payment of hearing day fees for Supreme Court family matters and in the interim will not be charging hearing day fees for those cases. Court Services is also initiating a comprehensive review of all court fees.

For more information, visit the Court Services Branch website.

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Law Society delivers recommendations on appointment of judges to Supreme Court of Canada

[posted July 18, 2016]

The Law Society of British Columbia has submitted a report to the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould outlining recommended principles for the appointment of Justices to the Supreme Court of Canada. The report, approved by Benchers at their July 8 meeting, sets out four principles that the Law Society views as essential to the process of appointing Justices to the Court: transparency; judicial independence; merit and diversity; and public participation.

The Supreme Court of Canada plays a vital role in maintaining the rule of law and the process by which Supreme Court Justices are appointed directly impacts the public interest. The current process by which candidates are evaluated and selected is largely unknown.

It is the Law Society’s position that incorporating these four principles will enhance public confidence in the Court and in the legal system by ensuring candidates of the highest quality are appointed to the Court. Ultimately, this will promote and protect the rule of law.

See the report and the letter to the Minister.

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BridgePoint Indemnity Company (BICO) ordered to cease and desist

[posted July 7, 2016]

On June 30, 2016, the Financial Institutions Commission (FICOM) ordered BridgePoint Indemnity Company (Canada) (BICO) to immediately cease conducting insurance business in the province of British Columbia, including the advertising, soliciting, offering, sale, and adjusting of legal expenses insurance under the product names Legal Cost Protection, LegalProtect and Trial Protect. In addition, FICOM ordered BICO to provide the Superintendent with a copy of every contract issued by it which insures risk in BC and is currently in force within 10 days and for BICO to arrange for all current contracts insuring risk in BC to be assumed by an authorized insurance company, at BICO’s expense.

For details, read the order issued by the Commission. For practice advice, please contact a Practice Advisor.

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Law Society’s second annual secondary school essay contest highlights significance of the rule of law

[posted June 22, 2016]

The Law Society’s Rule of Law and Lawyer Independence Advisory Committee launched an annual essay contest for BC secondary students last year to reaffirm the significance of the rule of law and to enhance students’ knowledge and willingness to participate actively in civic life.

For the 2016/17 school year, the Law Society is inviting all Grade 12 students and any secondary school students who have taken, or are currently enrolled in either Law 12 or Civic Studies 11, to submit an essay on the following topic:

How would you explain the rule of law to a fellow student who has never heard the term before? You might discuss why the rule of law is important, and how it impacts our daily lives. You might also discuss any current events involving threats to the rule of law.

Students are expected to submit an essay addressing the topic that demonstrates their understanding of the rule of law, its principles, and its significance in civil society. Entries will be judged on a clear expression of ideas, an understanding of the topic, originality and excellence in writing.

The winner and runner up will be chosen by a judging panel representing the Law Society and the education community. The winning entry will be awarded a $1,000 prize, and the runner up will receive a $500 prize. The first place winner and runner up will be invited to an awards presentation event at the Law Society in Vancouver. Travel and accommodation costs for a student not living in Metro Vancouver will be provided by the Law Society.

Deadline for submissions is April 10, 2017.

For further details, see the flyer, information sheet and submission guidelines.

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Law Society Bencher appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia

[posted June 17, 2016]

The Law Society congratulates the Honourable Madam Justice Maria Morellato on her appointment to the bench of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Madam Justice Morellato was admitted to the bar of British Columbia in 1983, and was elected a Bencher of the Law Society of British Columbia in 2011.

As a Bencher of the Law Society, Madam Justice Morellato was chair of the Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee and a member of the Ethics Committee and the Access to Legal Services Advisory Committee.

Madam Justice Morellato is an experienced civil litigator with expertise in Aboriginal and Treaty rights law. Prior to her appointment she was a partner at Mandell Pinder LLP in Vancouver.

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BC Supreme Court's amendments to rules on Trial Management Conferences effective July 1, 2016

[posted June 17, 2016]

The BC Supreme Court has issued amendments to Rule 12-2 of the Supreme Court Civil Rules, Trial Management Conferences, which come into effect on July 1, 2016. These amendments establish several new timelines and failure to meet the timelines may result in trials being removed from the trial list. This Notice describes the new timelines and provides an example of how the timelines are calculated. For more information, visit the court’s website.

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Supreme Court of Canada releases decisions concerning CRA notices of requirements

[posted June 10, 2016]

The issue concerning lawyers’ professional obligations where they receive a notice of requirement to produce information from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in connection with a client’s information or documents has been discussed several times over the last number of years in previous Benchers’ Bulletins. Most recently, in the Spring 2016 issue it was noted that the Quebec Court of Appeal had declared the provisions for the Income Tax Act under which the notices of requirement are issued to be constitutionally invalid, and that the decision was appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Supreme Court recently released its decisions in Canada (Attorney General) v. Chambre des Notaires du Quebec, 2016 SCC 20, and Canada (National Revenue) v. Thompson, 2016 SCC 21.

In the former case, the court concluded that a notice of requirement issued under the Income Tax Act constitutes a seizure within the meaning of s. 8 of the Charter, and that the seizures made under s. 231.2 of the Act were unreasonable and contrary to section 8 because the requirement scheme did not provide adequate protection for solicitor-client privilege.

In particular, the court held that the procedures set out in the Income Tax Act did not require the holder of the privilege (that is, the client) to be informed of the notice of requirement or of any proceeding brought by CRA to obtain an order to provide the information or documents required to be produced. Moreover, the procedure also placed the entire burden of protecting the privilege on the lawyer. The court also concluded that neither the Attorney General nor CRA had established that it was absolutely necessary to impair solicitor-client privilege. Because the impugned provisions did not minimally impair the right to solicitor-client privilege, they could not be saved under s. 1. As such, the sections in question (ss. 231.2(1) and 231.7 of the Income Tax Act) were declared to be unconstitutional and inapplicable to Quebec notaries and lawyers in their capacity as legal advisors.

The court also held that the definition of "solicitor-client privilege" in s. 232(1) of the Income Tax Act was unconstitutional and invalid. The manner in which it limits the scope of solicitor-client privilege is not absolutely necessary to achieve the purposes of the Income Tax Act, and therefore the exception is contrary to s. 8 of the Charter.

In Thompson, the court noted that the definition of "solicitor-client privilege" in s. 232(1) of the Income Tax Act is unequivocal, and Parliament’s intent to define privilege so as to exclude a lawyer’s accounting record from its protection "could hardly be clearer." While Parliament may, with clear and unambiguous language, evince an intent to abrogate privilege in respect of specific information (see Canada (Privacy Commissioner) v. Blood Tribe Department of Health 2008 SCC 44), the question of whether a legislature can abrogate solicitor-client privilege over a class of documents in which the seizure of such documents is permitted cannot be answered, the court concluded, on the basis of Blood Tribe alone. In Thompson, the Supreme Court noted that Parliament’s intent and its ability, in constitutional terms, to define solicitor-client privilege in a particular way are not necessarily equivalent.

Where a seizure is involved, s. 8 of the Charter comes into play. As noted in Chambre des Notaires, the court concluded that the purported abrogation of solicitor-client privilege over accounting records in s. 232 (1) of the Income Tax Act is constitutionally invalid because it permits the state to obtain information that would otherwise be privileged to a far greater extent than is absolutely necessary for the administration of the Income Tax Act.

As a result of the court’s decisions, ss. 231.2 and 231.7 of the Income Tax Act are unconstitutional and inapplicable to lawyers and Quebec notaries in their capacity as legal advisors, and the exception in the definition of solicitor-client privilege in s. 232(1) of that Act is constitutionally invalid.

Lawyers who are currently the subject of an outstanding notice of requirement pursuant to s. 231.2 or who are a party to an application for a compliance order under s. 231.7 should contact Barbara Buchanan, QC (bbuchanan@lsbc.org) or Michael Lucas (mlucas@lsbc.org) at the Law Society if they have any questions.

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TWU appeal proceedings

[posted May 30, 2016]

The Law Society’s appeal of the decision in TWU v. The Law Society of BC decision was heard in the BC Court of Appeal from June 1 to 3, 2016. Background information and documents can be found here and the news release regarding the appeal can be found here.

The appeal hearing in The Law Society of Upper Canada v. TWU in Ontario was held from June 6 to 8.

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Important PLTC registration information – updated

[posted May 27, 2016]

[originally posted June 17, 2015; updated April 4 and May 27, 2016] 

 

Update: The Law Society is still accepting applicants for the September Vancouver PLTC session (September 12 – November 18, 2016). Please forward these applications to the attention of Amity Chow, PLTC department. For any questions concerning PLTC registration, contact Amity Chow at AChow@lsbc.org.


Does your firm plan to hire an articled student to start in 2016 or 2017? The number of articled students in BC has increased substantially in recent years. Early PLTC applicants are more likely to be placed in their session of choice.

Although PLTC has greatly increased its capacity and does its best to place students in the session of their first choice, this is not always possible. For the best chance of your student attending the PLTC session of choice, please note the following registration deadlines for 2016-2017 PLTC:

  • March 01, 2016 [deadline extended – see box above]: to attend PLTC September - November 2016 (Vancouver only)
  • October 14, 2016: to attend PLTC February - April 2017 (Vancouver only)
  • December 15, 2016: to attend PLTC May - August 2017 (Vancovuer, Victoria or Kamloops)
  • March 1, 2017: September 11 - November 17, 2017 (Vancouver only)

As there are often more applications for a particular session than there is space, applicants may be asked to choose between attending a later session or attending in a different location. That is why we recommend that applications be submitted as early as possible.

Some tips:

  • If the registration deadline has already passed, contact PLTC as there may still be space available or a wait list.
  • A student’s second choice on the application must be one he or she is able to attend.
  • Students currently attending law school in Kamloops or Victoria may have a better chance of summer registration in those locations regardless of where they are articling.
  • If a student will be attending a later session than what was requested, the firm can avoid “interrupting” articles with PLTC by delaying the start of articles until after PLTC is complete.
  • If a student has specific health or family reasons for needing to attend a particular location, include that information with the application.

Articling and PLTC are important components of the Law Society Admission Program, helping to build a foundation for new lawyers beginning the practice of law. If you have any questions or want further information on the Law Society Admissions Program, visit our web page here.

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2015 Magna Carta secondary school essay contest

[posted May 11, 2016]

Essay contest winner and runner-upThe Law Society congratulates essay contest winner Han Wei (Helen) Luo (pictured left), Law 12 student from Hugh McRoberts Secondary School in Richmond, and runner-up Anushka Kurian, Law 12 student from Hugh Boyd Secondary School in Richmond, for their exemplary essays on the topic of “Magna Carta and its relevance to Canada in the 21st Century.”

Winning essay: “The Journey of the Magna Carta” by Han Wei (Helen) Luo

Runner-up essay: “The Ripple Effect of the Magna Carta” by Anushka J. Kurian

The Law Society launched the essay contest in March 2015 to acknowledge the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and to support the goal of raising public awareness of the importance of the rule of law and the proper administration of justice.

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Articling offers by downtown Vancouver firms to stay open to August 12

[posted May 11, 2016]

All offers of articling positions made this year by law firms with offices in downtown Vancouver must remain open until 8 am on Friday, August 12, 2016. 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).

If the offer is not accepted, the firm can make a new offer to another student within the same day. Law firms cannot ask students whether they would accept an offer if an offer was made, as this places students in the very position Rule 2-58 is intended to prevent. If a law student advises that he or she has accepted another offer before August 12, the firm can consider its offer rejected.

If a third party advises a lawyer that a student has accepted another offer, the lawyer must confirm this information with the student. Should circumstances arise that require the withdrawal of an articling offer prior to August 12, the lawyer must receive prior approval from the Credentials Committee. The committee may consider conflicts of interest or other factors that reflect on a student’s suitability as an articled student in deciding whether to allow the lawyer to withdraw the offer.

For further information, contact Member Services at 604.605.5311.

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Law firm regulation consultation

[posted March 23, 2016]

The Law Firm Regulation Task Force continues to seek input from lawyers.

Regulating law firms as well as individual lawyers aims to provide more efficient and effective regulation – both from the public and the lawyer perspective. It is meant to simplify and improve the regulatory process from the perspective of the individual lawyer, not to create additional regulatory burden.

If firms were regulated, they would bear responsibility for activities that transcend the work of any individual lawyer, including, for example, advertising, accounting or file management.

Entity regulation is not unique to BC, or Canada. Regulators of the legal profession in England, Europe and Australia have adopted various forms of law firm regulation. In Canada, other law societies are studying how best to apply law firm regulation to the legal profession in their province.

Making law firm regulation a reality is part of the Law Society’s Strategic Plan for 2015-2017. In the fall of 2014 the Law Firm Regulation Task Force was created and given the mandate of recommending a framework for regulating law firms.

Consultation with the profession is underway

The task force thanks everyone who participated in the consultations to date. Over 100 lawyers responded to a survey in November 2015 and over 110 lawyers attended sessions that were held in 11 cities around the province in February, 2016.

It's not too late to be heard. Lawyers are encouraged to provide their comments for the task force to consider:

by email: firmregulation@lsbc.org

by letter:

Law Firm Regulation Task Force
c/o Michael Lucas
Law Society of British Columbia
845 Cambie Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 4Z9

If you would like the Law Firm Regulation Task Force to bring any future consultation opportunities to your attention, please provide your name and email address to firmregulation@lsbc.org.

For more information on this initiative, see Law firm regulation – consultation.

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