Continuation of 2003 Annual General Meeting of The Law Society of British Columbia

September 24, 2003

Monday, October 27, 2003
Registration: 11:00 am - 12:30 pm (in Vancouver); 
11:45 am - 12:30 pm (other locations)
Call to order: 12:30 pm

Note new main location: 
Vancouver Trade & Convention Centre, 999 Canada Place, Vancouver
Audioconference locations: 
Cranbrook . Kamloops . Kelowna . Nanaimo
Nelson . Prince George . Quesnel . Terrace . Victoria

The Law Society's Annual General Meeting held September 19, 2003 was adjourned pursuant to Rule 1-11(18) of the Law Society Rules. The reason for the adjournment was the failure of the audio link between the main meeting site in Vancouver and several audioconference locations. The audio link is provided by a private company and the failure was outside the Law Society's control. That meeting has been scheduled to reconvene on October 27, 2003. BC lawyers and articled students are invited to attend at the main location in Vancouver or at one of the audioconference locations.

Registration begins at 11:00 am (Vancouver) and 11:45 am (other locations).

All AGM locations are wheelchair accessible. If you plan to attend the meeting and have other access needs, please contact David Newell at the Law Society at your earliest convenience so that arrangements can be made. He can be reached at: tel. 604 443-5723 or toll-free in BC 1-800-903-5300; fax 604 669-2533; TTY 604 443-5700; email: dnewell@lsbc.org.

 

Annual General Meeting locations
Please RSVP to the email address beside the location you plan to attend.
If sending an RSVP for others in your office as well, please note the number in your email.

City/town

Location

RSVP by email to:

Vancouver

Vancouver Trade & Convention Centre

vancouver@lsbc.org

Cranbrook

Three Bars Ranch, 9500 Wycliff Perry Road

cranbrook@lsbc.org

Kamloops

Coast Canadian Inn, 339 St. Paul Street

kamloops@lsbc.org

Kelowna

Coast Capri Hotel, 1171 Harvey Avenue

kelowna@lsbc.org

Nanaimo

Coast Bastion Inn, 11 Bastion Street

nanaimo@lsbc.org

Nelson

Prestige Lakeside Resort, 701 Lakeside Drive

nelson@lsbc.org

Prince George

Coast Inn of the North, 770 Brunswick Street

prince_george@lsbc.org

Quesnel

Offices of Chudiak, Schmit and Company, 531 Reid Street

quesnel@lsbc.org

Terrace

Coast Inn of the West, 4620 Lakelse Avenue

terrace@lsbc.org

Victoria

Victoria Conference Centre, 720 Douglas Street

victoria@lsbc.org

Resolutions to the Annual General Meeting

Resolutions to the meeting are set out below in the order in which they were received, which is not necessarily the order in which they will be considered at the meeting. The Executive Committee is authorized to set the agenda for the meeting (Rule 1-11(12)).

Resolution 1 - 2004 practice fee, submitted by the Benchers

WHEREAS the Benchers have determined that the amount of $825.00 per practising lawyer is required to maintain and operate the programs of the Law Society for the year 2004;

AND WHEREAS pursuant to section 24(1)(c) of the Legal Profession Act the Benchers have resolved to authorize the Law Society to act as agent for the Canadian Bar Association for the purpose of collecting membership fees set by the CBA from lawyers who are members of the CBA, which fees form part of the practice fee for lawyers who are members of the CBA;

AND WHEREAS the Benchers have determined that it is appropriate to advance the interests of the Law Society through payments to the following organizations in the following amounts:

  BC Courthouse Library Society 
Lawyers Assistance Program 
The Advocate 

$130.00
$45.00
$27.50

BE IT RESOLVED THAT, for the practice year commencing January 1, 2004, the practice fee be set as follows, pursuant to section 23(1)(a) of the Legal Profession Act:

A. For lawyers who are not members of the Canadian Bar Association $1,027.50;

B. For lawyers who are members of the Canadian Bar Association and who have been in practice five full years or more $1,512.91, consisting of $1,027.50 plus the Canadian Bar Association membership fee of $485.41;

C. For lawyers who are members of the Canadian Bar Association and who have been in practice less than five full years $1,323.91, consisting of $1,027.50 plus the Canadian Bar Association membership fee of $296.41.

Please note: The practice fee does not include the Lawyers Insurance Fund fee or the Special Compensation Fund assessment for the 2004 policy year. These amounts will be set by the Benchers under sections 30(3)(a) and 23(1)(b) of the Legal Profession Act and will be shown on the annual fee notice mailed to members in November.

Resolution 2(a) - submitted by Robert Brun and J.J. Camp, QC, both of Vancouver

BE IT RESOLVED that Resolution No. 1 entitled "Practice Fee, submitted by the Benchers" be amended by substituting for it the following:

WHEREAS since 1948 the Law Society of British Columbia and its members have resolved to collect the Canadian Bar Association Fee as part of the Law Society Annual Practice Fee and to remit it to the Canadian Bar Association;

AND WHEREAS British Columbia lawyers benefit from the collective expertise, accomplishments and profile of the Canadian Bar Association and from branch and national programs and initiatives supported by member fees;

AND WHEREAS the British Columbia legal profession requires strong, united representation of lawyers independent of the Law Society to advance its priorities and advocate on its behalf;

AND WHEREAS the members of the Law Society at the 2002 Annual General Meeting directed the Canadian Bar Association and the Law Society to work cooperatively to develop a protocol to address the subject of Law Society members who do not wish to be members of the Canadian Bar Association;

AND WHEREAS the Canadian Bar Association developed a protocol that was approved by the Provincial Council of the BC Branch and forwarded to the Law Society by letter dated April 17, 2003;

AND WHEREAS the Canadian Bar Association recognizing the difficult economic circumstances facing lawyers in British Columbia at the present time presented a proposal to the Benchers Meeting on July 11th that would defer a portion of the CBA 2004 fee;

BE IT RESOLVED that for the practice year commencing January 1, 2004, the Practice Fee be set as follows, pursuant to Section 23(1)(a) of the Legal Profession Act:

A. For members who have been in practice five full years or more:

  Law Society Fee 
BC Courthouse Library Society 
Lawyers Assistance Program 
Advocate subscription 
Amount equivalent to the Canadian
   Bar Association fee 

$ 825.00
130.00
45.00
27.50

465.41

  Total Practice Fee

 $1,492.91

B. For members who have been in practice less than five full years:

  Law Society Fee 
BC Courthouse Library Society 
Lawyers Assistance Program 
Advocate subscription 
Amount equivalent to the Canadian
   Bar Association fee

$ 825.00
130.00
45.00
27.50

 276.41

  Total Practice Fee 

$1,303.91

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Law Society, the Benchers, and each of them be directed to remit, upon receipt, to the Canadian Bar Association at the direction of the Canadian Bar Association, the amount equivalent to the Canadian Bar Association Fee which the Law Society has collected as a portion of the 2004 Practice Fee.

Resolution 2(b) - submitted by Robert Brun and J.J. Camp, QC, both of Vancouver

BE IT RESOLVED that Resolution No. 1 entitled "Practice Fee, submitted by the Benchers" be amended by substituting for it the following:

WHEREAS since 1948 the Law Society of British Columbia and its members have resolved to collect the Canadian Bar Association Fee as part of the Law Society Annual Practice Fee and to remit it to the Canadian Bar Association;

AND WHEREAS British Columbia lawyers benefit from the collective expertise, accomplishments and profile of the Canadian Bar Association and from branch and national programs and initiatives supported by member fees;

AND WHEREAS the British Columbia legal profession requires strong, united representation of lawyers independent of the Law Society to advance its priorities and advocate on its behalf;

AND WHEREAS the members of the Law Society at the 2002 Annual General Meeting directed the Canadian Bar Association and the Law Society to work cooperatively to develop a protocol to address the subject of Law Society members who do not wish to be members of the Canadian Bar Association;

AND WHEREAS the Canadian Bar Association developed a protocol that was approved by the Provincial Council of the BC Branch and forwarded to the Law Society by letter dated April 17, 2003;

AND WHEREAS the Canadian Bar Association recognizing the difficult economic circumstances facing lawyers in British Columbia at the present time presented a proposal to the Benchers Meeting on July 11th that would defer a portion of the CBA 2004 fee;

AND WHEREAS the Benchers have determined that the amount of $825.00 per practising lawyer is required to maintain and operate the programs of the Law Society for the year 2004;

AND WHEREAS it is appropriate to advance the interest of the Law Society through payments to the following organizations in the following amounts:

  BC Courthouse Library Society   

$130.00

  Lawyers Assistance Program   

$ 45.00

  The Advocate   

$ 27.50

  The Canadian Bar Association (an amount equivalent to the Canadian Bar Association fee)
  i) for members who have been in practice five full years or more; or   


$465.41

  ii) for members who have been in practice less than five full years   


$276.41

BE IT RESOLVED that for the practice year commencing January 1, 2004, the practice fee be set as follows pursuant to Section 23(1)(a) of the Legal Profession Act:

a) for members who have been in practice five full years or more $1,492.91

b) for lawyers who have been in practice less than five full year $1,303.91.

Resolution 3 - submitted by Ian Royce Sisett and Sandro Laudadio, both of Vancouver

WHEREAS the Society has come under statute to consider the "public interest" as paramount to the interest of any of its members;

AND WHEREAS the members subject to complaint are presently deprived of most fundamental rights at present in answering to complaints, i.e.

Member guilty until proven innocent;

Reverse onus upon any accused member in matters of proof and proceeding even with "informal" conduct review;

Member deprived of the civil rights of any other citizen charged with criminal or quasi-criminal complaints, such as right to question accuser, or right to remain silent;

Members given permanently blemished record with each complaint review, without any formal charge/citation issued or upheld;

Member now put to Show Cause action to set aside unproven complaints;

Members subject to discipline proceedings for number rather than substance of complaints;

Members open to double jeopardy between Committees, as with the Credentials Committee extraordinary power to call a member to rehearing on any complaint previously dismissed by the Discipline Committee;

Members increasingly subject to directives of bureaucracy with "expedient" delegation of Bencher and Committee powers.

BE IT RESOLVED that a Bill of Rights be brought forward on behalf of the members of this Society to better protect the fundamental right and dignity of each and every member in matters of discipline so as to ensure fairness and natural justice to all.

BE IT RESOLVED that an Ombudsman be appointed by the Society to assist in the expeditious determination of complaints or proceedings of a frivolous or vexatious nature or which offend the fundamental rights of members in matters of natural justice.

Law Society fees and other revenues in 2004

The 2004 Law Society practice fee as proposed by the Benchers

The 2004 Law Society practice fee resolution, as proposed by the Benchers, is set out as Resolution 1 beginning at page 1 of this notice.

In a departure from previous years, the Benchers are recommending to the Annual General Meeting a practice fee that includes the Canadian Bar Association fee only for those BC lawyers who are members of the CBA.

At their meeting on July 11, 2003 the Benchers resolved that the Law Society should serve as agent for the Canadian Bar Association to collect the CBA fee as part of the 2004 practice fee, but to recommend to the AGM that the practice fee include the CBA fee only for those lawyers who are members of the CBA. The practice fee will not include the CBA fee for lawyers who are not members of the CBA. [For more on this issue, see "Canadian Bar Association" below.]

Under Resolution 1, a practising lawyer would pay one of the following amounts as the 2004 practice fee:

  • a practising lawyer who is not a member of the CBA: a practice fee of $1,027.50 in 2004, which includes a Law Society fee of $825 and additional amounts to be advanced by the Law Society as funding for the BC Courthouse Library Society, the Lawyers Assistance Program and the Advocate.
  • a practising lawyer who is a member of the CBA in practice five full years or more: a practice fee of $1512.91 in 2004, consisting of $1,027.50 plus the CBA membership fee, which the CBA has advised is set at $485.41 for lawyers in practice five full years or more.
  • a practising lawyer who is a member of the CBA in practice less than five full years: a practice fee of $1,323.91 in 2004, consisting of $1,027.50 plus the CBA membership fee, which the CBA has advised is set at $296.41 for lawyers in practice less than five full years.

Members will be asked to set the practice fee at the Annual General Meeting on September 19, 2003.

Law Society fee

The Law Society component of the practice fee supports Law Society operations and programs. This component is set at $825 for 2004, an 8.6% decrease from 2003.

Through a combination of reduced expenses and increased revenues, the Law Society's General Fund posted a surplus in both 2001 and 2002. In recognition of this improved financial position, the general malaise of the BC economy and the increased burden that BC lawyers have been asked to shoulder in light of Special Compensation Fund claims respecting Martin Wirick, the Benchers have decided to reduce the Law Society fee.

Revenue projections for 2004 are based on approximately 9,200 practising members and 1,300 non-practising and retired members. Growth in Law Society membership is expected to be modest next year and in the near future.

BC Courthouse Library Society

The funding designated for the BC Courthouse Library Society in 2004 is $130 per member, unchanged from 2003. Two Benchers, one as Chair, sit on the BCCLS board of directors.

Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP)

The funding designated for LAP in 2004 is $45, an $8 (21.6%) increase from 2003. LAP regularly provides reports to the Benchers on its services.

Advocate subscription

The subscription fee for the Advocate, a bimonthly legal journal, is $27.50 in 2004, unchanged from 2003.

Canadian Bar Association*

*voluntary component

The 2004 Canadian Bar Association fee is $485.41 (for members in practice five full years or more), up $43.97 (10%) from 2003, and $296.41 (for members in practice less than five full years), up $23.97 (8.8%) from 2003.

As noted, the Benchers are recommending that the Law Society collect the Canadian Bar Association fee as part of the 2004 practice fee, but only for those BC lawyers who elect to be members of the CBA.

The Benchers' proposed fee resolution is a departure from tradition. For more than 50 years, the CBA fee has been a component of the practice fee payable by all practising members, as recommended by the Benchers and approved by the members at the Annual General Meeting.

Last year the Benchers proposed a resolution for the collection of "an amount equivalent" to the CBA fee as part of the 2003 practice fee, in recognition of the fact that some members of the Law Society have chosen not to belong to the CBA. After debate at the 2002 AGM, that practice fee was approved by members in attendance. The Benchers subsequently approved remitting to the Canadian Bar Association the amount collected from all practising lawyers as "an amount equivalent" to the CBA fee.

Under the Benchers' recommendation for the 2004 practice fee, those lawyers who are not members of the CBA will pay $1,027.50. Those lawyers who are members of the CBA will pay $1,512.91 (if in practice five years or more) or $1,323.91 (if in practice less than five full years).

Although the Benchers recognize the overall value and good work of the Canadian Bar Association, a majority this year did not favour a CBA fee (or fee equivalent) as a compulsory component of the practice fee.

In reaching this decision, a number of factors were raised at the Benchers table:

  • Compulsory payment of the CBA fee (or fee equivalent) has become a matter of considerable controversy within the profession in recent years, particularly since CBA membership is voluntary but payment of a fee to fund the CBA is not;
  • The Law Society has faced litigation, including one case recently argued in BC Supreme Court, challenging the legal authority to require payment of a CBA fee or fee equivalent;
  • In all other Canadian provinces but one, the law societies do not compel payment of a CBA membership fee or fee equivalent;
  • Canadian Bar Association fee increases are set by the CBA National and are outside of Law Society control, which makes it difficult for the Benchers to oversee the amount of the proposed practice fee that they recommend to the Annual General Meeting;
  • Governments abroad are now scrutinizing and, in some cases interfering with, the self-regulation of the legal profession on the basis that some law societies have preferred member interests to fulfilment of regulatory functions. While such criticism would not be justified in BC, too close an integration between any law society and a lawyers association, such as the CBA, may not enhance public confidence;
  • Unless the Benchers are satisfied that payment of the CBA fee or fee equivalent is necessary to satisfy the Law Society's mandate, it is inappropriate to recommend the CBA fee be a mandatory part of the practice fee.

As drafted, Resolution 1 ensures that the Canadian Bar Association benefits from the administrative convenience of the Law Society collecting CBA fees from CBA members as part of the Law Society's annual fee billing.

Other fees and revenues in 2004

The Law Society's non-practising member fee will remain at $300 in 2004, which includes a subscription to The Advocate. Retired member fees, law corporation fees and many other fees have remained unchanged since 1996.

The Benchers will consider PLTC fees later this year. Any change to these fees would take effect in May, 2004.

Total fees paid by lawyers in BC to the Law Society

This notice sets out in detail the proposed 2004 practice fee, to be set at the upcoming AGM. At their October meeting, the Benchers will set the Special Compensation and Lawyers Insurance Fund fees.

In light of additional costs relating to Special Compensation Fund claims and the investigation of the practice of Martin Wirick, the Benchers increased the Special Compensation Fund fee by $350 to $600 in 2003. Based on current information, this fee is not expected to increase in 2004 and may possibly decrease by as much as $200. The Lawyers Insurance Fund fee is expected to be maintained at $1,500 for the fifth year in a row.

The Benchers have been diligent in providing hands-on management of the Special Compensation Fund files to control custodian, investigation and audit costs. While Special Fund claims have increased significantly in the past couple of years, the Benchers feel that it is in the best interest of all members to finance these costs over a number of years. The Benchers will review both the Special Compensation Fund and the Lawyers Insurance Fund in detail prior to setting the 2004 assessments.

Law Society expenditures in 2004

Prior to the Benchers recommending the 2004 practice fee to the profession, all program areas and a number of emerging issues facing lawyers were reviewed. While the fee to fund the Law Society general operations in 2004 is proposed to decrease by $78 from 2003, the fee will nevertheless allow for maintenance of programs, with some reallocations, cost of living increases and a small contingency fund.

With the ever-increasing impact of technology on law practice, the Benchers continue to work on several technology initiatives to help lawyers. In conjunction with other Canadian law societies, and thanks to a funding contribution from the Law Foundation of BC, the Law Society has continued its support of CANLII as the "virtual law library." The Society also continues its support of the BC Courthouse Library Society whose service mandate is evolving under a new strategic plan. Finally, the Law Society continues to work on Juricert and numerous electronic initiatives aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of legal filings, including Land Title Office electronic filings, expected to be introduced in 2004.

The Law Society's commitment to interprovincial mobility for lawyers is reflected in the recent implementation of a new National Mobility Agreement to facilitate both temporary and permanent moves by lawyers in Canada. In addition, a new trust accounting reporting form will be introduced later this year along with new accounting rules to better reflect current practice and improve accountability in the profession. Law Society task forces remain very active reviewing current issues, such as Special Compensation Fund coverage, alternative dispute resolution, practice standards, lawyer education and the certification of paralegals.

A final Law Society budget for 2004 will be discussed at the Benchers meeting in November. At that meeting the Benchers will set 2004 spending priorities and take a detailed look at the programs necessary to fulfil their statutory obligations and the Law Society strategic plan.

For more information

If you have any questions about the financial information in this notice, please contact Neil Stajkowski, Chief Financial Officer, by telephone at 604 443-5712 or toll-free in BC 1-800-903-5300, telefax at 604 687-0135 or email at nstajkowski@lsbc.org.