Information from the Law Society respecting Resolution 2
August 28, 2000
from Karl Warner, Q.C. President
Two members of the Law Society, Brian Johnson and Gregory Hagen, have submitted a resolution to the Annual General Meeting with respect to JuricertTM Services Inc. (see Resolution 2, set out on pages 2-3 of the enclosed AGM notice). To ensure there are no misunderstandings arising from Resolution 2, I believe several points need to be clarified by the Law Society in advance of the AGM.
The role of Juricert Services Inc. is to allow all the Canadian law societies to continue their trusted tradition of authenticating the identity and credentials of lawyers in a new way. The authentication of professional status — such as through issuance of official certificates of standing — has always been a core function of law societies, and is relied upon by courts and government agencies worldwide. Juricert provides the infrastructure by which the law societies can authenticate the online identity and professional status of Canadian lawyers by issuing trusted digital credentials. These credentials become critical as more and more legal filings and other transactions are carried out electronically. (For more background, see the May-June, 2000 Benchers' Bulletin.)
We understand that Mr. Johnson and Mr. Hagen are interested in offering — through their own organization, DigiTrust Certification Services Society — services as a certification authority for lawyers. For that reason, they approached the Law Society of B.C. and other Canadian law societies last year as to whether DigiTrust might serve as a certification authority for the law societies.
Our Law Society and the other Canadian law societies, however, had planned to retain control and ownership of the service as a core regulatory function. We did not intend to purchase the services of a third-party certification authority and therefore were not seeking proposals in that regard.
The approach of the Canadian law societies resulted in Juricert Services Inc., a federally incorporated company, which is wholly owned by participating Canadian law societies.
Juricert recently entered into a contract with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd., which will help develop Juricert's technological infrastructure. Juricert has also contracted with PrivateExpress Inc. to offer lawyers a complementary digital courier service for secure transmissions over the Internet. B.C. lawyers will receive details on how to receive these services later this Fall.
To address the points raised in Resolution 2, I would like to note the following:
- Because the Canadian law societies plan to carry out professional authentication directly through Juricert, as opposed to purchasing the services of a third-party certification authority, there would be no purpose in retaining an independent consultant to issue a request for certification services.
- Juricert has carried out due diligence with expert assistance in selecting its suppliers and remains open to discussing any additional services that any other suppliers might offer lawyers.
- The operations of Juricert are subject to control and review by Canadian law societies, and such review will include a management review by consultants, Arthur Andersen.
I would be pleased to address these and any other issues relating to the Juricert project at the Annual General Meeting.