BC lawyers approve 2006 practice fee

In a referendum held June 22, BC lawyers voted (3,048 : 769) to set the 2006 practice fee at $1,065.50, as recommended by the Benchers. This represents approval of the fee by 79.9% of voters.

The 2006 practice fee includes four components: 1) a Law Society General Fund fee of $825, 2) a BC Courthouse Library Society fee of $160, 3) a Lawyers Assistance Program (LAP) fee of $53 and 4) an Advocate subscription of $27.50.

The practice fee does not include a CBA fee or fee equivalent. In the fee referendum last year, a majority of the profession approved a fee without a mandatory CBA fee component. The Benchers respected this decision of the profession that the CBA fee should be voluntary, not mandatory, and did not include it in the 2006 practice fee resolution.

The Benchers will set the 2006 Special Compensation Fund assessment and Lawyers Insurance Fund fee this fall. Beginning in 2003, the Benchers increased the Special Compensation Fund assessment to $600, because of increased claims and investigation costs relating to the practice of Martin Wirick.

While Special Compensation Fund claims costs have increased significantly, the Benchers have elected to finance these over a number of years, having regard both to the stability of the Fund and the interests of BC lawyers. Accordingly, no further Special Compensation Fund assessment increase is currently projected for 2006. The Lawyers Insurance Fund fee is expected to remain at $1,500 in 2006, for the sixth year in a row.