January 8, 2003
1) New cross-border regulations require clients, not their lawyers, to file reports
In November 2002, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada announced that the Government of Canada had published a final set of regulations on the cross-border movement of currency and monetary instruments under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and that these regulations would take effect January 6, 2003. The regulations require persons to report the importation or exportation of amounts of $10,000 or more of currency and monetary instruments in bearer form.
In accordance with the information the Federation originally received from the Government of Canada, the Law Society of BC and other Canadian law societies advised lawyers that they would have to comply with the reporting requirements of these regulations. That advice has now changed.
The Government of Canada recently informed the Federation of Law Societies that lawyers are NOT required to report cross-border transactions when such transactions are carried out on behalf of clients. (A lawyer would have to report a transaction done on his or her own behalf.)
Accordingly, if a Canadian lawyer, acting on behalf of a client, sends currency or monetary instruments in bearer form of $10,000 or more by mail or courier to a party outside of Canada, it is the lawyer's client (as the "exporter" for the purposes of the Act and regulations) who is required to report, not the lawyer. If a lawyer carries out an importation or exportation of such currency or monetary instruments on the client's behalf, the client must name the lawyer in the report that the client makes under the regulations. While it is the client who has the obligation to file the report, the lawyer may do so as a service to the client if so instructed.
For more information, please consult the Cross-border Currency and Monetary Instruments Reporting Regulations.
Lawyers are reminded that, in their representation of clients, they continue to be exempt from Part 1 of the PCMLTFA, including the reporting requirements respecting suspicious and large cash transactions, at least until the constitutional challenge taken by the Federation of Law Societies is heard.
2) BC Supreme Court introduces fax filing pilot project
Chief Justice Brenner of the BC Supreme Court has announced a six-month pilot project, to begin February 1, 2003, that will allow for the fax transmission of certain civil documents to 14 court registries throughout the province as an alternative to in-person or mail delivery of those documents. The project is an initiative of the Court Services Branch of the Ministry of Attorney General.
The 14 pilot locations are Chilliwack, Cranbrook, Dawson Creek, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nelson, Penticton, Prince George, Rossland, Salmon Arm, Smithers, Terrace, Vernon and Williams Lake.
The Notice to the Profession and Practice Direction on the pilot project are available on the superior courts website at http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/Sc/sc-pdir.htm.