Sweeping proceeds of crime legislation is imminent

The federal government's new Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act and accompanying regulations will impose onerous new reporting requirements on lawyers beginning November 8, 2001.

To assist B.C. lawyers in understanding these obligations, the Law Society has published:

  • A Guide to Managing a Lawyer's Obligations under the Proceeds of Crime Legislation
  • Model Compliance Manual: Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act [New]

Both publications are available on the Law Society website at www.lawsociety.bc.ca/services/frame_pcmla.html and will be updated as necessary. The Compliance Manual contains useful reference material for lawyers, including a precedent letter for law firms to consider when informing clients about the new legislation.

The Law Society is gravely concerned about this legislation. Lawyers will breach solicitor-client confidentiality by complying with some provisions, in conflict with their ethical obligations. At the same time, the consequences of non-compliance under the legislation are serious. The Law Society and the Federation of Law Societies sought to delay implementation and are now launching a constitutional challenge.