Referendum on Law Society Practice Fee for 2005 and Mandatory or Voluntary CBA Fee

May 14, 2004

The Benchers of the Law Society have called for a referendum of all members to set the Law Society practice fee for 2005 and determine whether payment of an amount equivalent to the Canadian Bar Association membership fee should be mandatory or voluntary for all practising lawyers.

A referendum ballot package, including supporting financial information, will be distributed by mail at the beginning of June, 2004. The last day for return of ballots will be Tuesday, June 22, 2004. The referendum question as it will appear on the ballot can be viewed in the "what's new" section of the Law Society website: see www.lawsociety.bc.ca/new/frame_whatsnew.html

The main issue in the referendum is whether the Law Society should require all practising lawyers to pay an amount equivalent to the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) membership fee, whether or not they are members of the CBA.

The Benchers have determined that the members should have the opportunity to decide this issue by setting the fee for 2005 in final form by referendum.

The Benchers have proposed two alternative resolutions to set the 2005 practice fee. Both are based on the amount of $980.50 that the Benchers have determined is required to operate the Law Society and its programs for 2005.

A resolution to set the fee will pass only if a majority of the members voting in the referendum vote in favour of it. The Benchers recommend that members vote for one of the resolutions setting the fee.

Resolution A sets the fee at $980.50 plus the CBA fee ($497.70 for senior members, $293.70 for junior members) as part of the mandatory fee.

Resolution B sets the fee at $980.50 and does not include the CBA fee.

Those members in favour of requiring all practising lawyers to pay the CBA fee should vote for Resolution A.

Those members not in favour of requiring all practising lawyers to pay the CBA fee should vote for Resolution B.

Members will also have the option of voting not to approve either resolution in this referendum. If neither fee resolution achieves a majority of all valid votes cast, the decision on the practice fee for 2005 will have to be made at the Law Society Annual General Meeting in September.

Please watch for your referendum ballot package in June.