AGM votes for mandatory CBA equivalent fee

A majority of lawyers attending the Law Society Annual Meeting on October 27 voted (295:139) to amend the Benchers' recommended 2004 practice fee resolution so as to include - as a component of the practice fee paid by all practising members in 2004 - an amount equivalent to the Canadian Bar Association membership fee. The amendment also calls on the Law Society to remit to the Canadian Bar Association, upon receipt, the amount equivalent to the CBA fee that the Society collects as a component of the practice fee.

Robert Brun and J.J. Camp, QC, both of Vancouver, put forward this amendment to the practice fee resolution. The Benchers' recommended resolution would not have included an amount equivalent to the Canadian Bar Association fee as a mandatory component of the practice fee. Rather, the Benchers had resolved to authorize the Law Society to serve as agent for the CBA for the purpose of collecting CBA membership fees only from lawyers who choose to be CBA members.

Following adoption of the Brun/Camp amendment, the meeting approved (303:67) an amended 2004 practice fee of $1,492.91 (for lawyers in practice five years or more), of which $465.41 represents the CBA equivalent fee, and $1,303.91 (for lawyers called less than five years), of which $276.41 represents the CBA equivalent fee.

The Annual General Meeting began on September 19, but was adjourned to October 27 because of technical problems on the audioconference. Prior to adjournment of the meeting on September 19, Victoria Bencher Ralston Alexander, QC was elected Second Vice-President for 2004* and PriceWaterhouseCoopers were appointed as auditors for the Society. The business of the meeting was completed on October 27.

A petition to challenge the statutory authority of the Law Society to include as part of the annual practice fee an amount equivalent to the CBA fee was heard in BC Supreme Court in July, with judgment reserved. That petition was brought by former Law Society President, Richard Gibbs, QC.

* Note: as a result of the recent resignation of Howard Berge, QC as President of the Law Society, Mr. Alexander assumed the position of Second Vice-President effective October 10, 2003 and Peter J. Keighley, a Bencher for Westminster District, assumed the position of First Vice-President on the same date. Mr. Alexander and Mr. Keighley will continue in these roles in 2004.