News Releases

For immediate release September 14, 2000

Richard S. Margetts, Q.C. Address on the occasion of the elevation of Mr. Justice Richard T. Low to Court of Appeal of British Columbia

Check against delivery.

Thank you.

Mr. Justice Low, Chief Justice McEachern, Chief Justice Brenner, my Lords and Ladies and members of this Court, Mr. Attorney, my friends at counsel table, colleagues, family and friends of all:

I am pleased to appear before you today on behalf of the Benchers and members of the Law Society of British Columbia. Today, we recognize the commitment and judicial excellence of Mr. Justice Richard Low as he takes his place on the esteemed bench of the BC Court of Appeal. Mr. Justice Low commences a new phase in his career as he leaves his very important work in the BC Supreme Court to take on another demanding role within the BC court system.

Over the years, we have seen growing public interest in the workings of the judiciary and those of the Appeal Court are particularly of interest because of the very nature of its work and deliberations. I am sure I can speak for many by stating unequivocally that our judiciary and this court in particular is an integral and fundamental part of our democratic system and the Law Society welcomes this appointment as one that will only enhance the strength of this court.

The task of judging is not an easy job in this day and age and the decisions of all Justices have come under ever-increasing scrutiny. British Columbians are keenly aware of how the justice system affects their daily lives and it is important for all partners in the justice system to encourage better understanding of this, the underpinning of our democratic society. Without this understanding, judicial independence is at risk.

As a result, it becomes even more necessary to perform an educational as well as an adjudicative function. We at the Law Society of BC support this emphasis on opening the doors to the justice system so our citizens can see in full view the value and necessity of the rule of law and judicial independence. And we will do everything we can to support the efforts of the courts in doing its good and necessary work.

But let me turn to Mr. Justice Low.

In my research, I discovered that Mr. Justice Low is a Vancouverite by birth, a true British Columbian by career, an avid sportsman, and a person of varied interests throughout. I am told that Richard Low, as he then was, graduated from UBC Law School in 1964 and had the good sense to article in my own wonderful city of Victoria. In 1965, in his application for enrolment in the Law Society, his response to the age-old question, "why do you want to practise law?," met with this practical, business-like and balanced reply:

"I think it will be a complete challenge to my own capabilities. It will also fulfil a desire to meet and assist people in all walks of life. I also feel that the practice of law will yield many satisfactions and will provide many rewards by way of remuneration and otherwise. In short, I think it will give me the opportunity to lead a full and rewarding life."

I say with some amount of bias that there is no better place than Victoria (or perhaps Australia) to lead a full and rewarding life. But I note with some incredulity that His Lordship appears to have lost his good sense by forsaking beautiful Victoria following his call in 1965, favouring instead the wilds of northern British Columbia, Prince George in particular. But I am forced to acknowledge that Prince George is a great city and offered excellent opportunities for the now Mr. Justice, as he practised with the esteemed firms of F.A. Howard-Gibbon; Cashman, Hope, Heinrich, Hansen & Low; and then Wilson King & Company. With expertise in civil and criminal litigation, he was called upon frequently to act as Crown Counsel and enjoyed an excellent reputation within the Cariboo bar.

As we all know and as others today will tell us, Mr. Justice Low received his first judicial appointment in March 1977, when he was appointed County Court Judge for Prince Rupert. He then moved to the County Court of Cariboo in 1980 and in 1990, became a Supreme Court Justice following the merger of the county and supreme courts. In 1992, he left northern BC to return to his home in Vancouver and took his post with the Court of Appeal in late July of this year.

I am told that His Lordship is a bit of a legend in the hockey rink, having both played with and refereed the Cariboo Bar Hockey League. I suspect that his experience dealing with emotional lawyer-hockey players on the ice (in both capacities as player and referee) prepared him well for dealing with these same individuals in the courtroom.

I have also heard that Mr. Justice Low is known to ski and play golf on occasion. With golf, hockey and skiing as his sports of choice, it is no wonder that His Lordship is able to both act independently and work in a team environment, as each circumstance permits. These are the special qualities required of a Court of Appeal justice – you must work as a team but also be independent of mind. I'm sure all will agree that these are characteristics that His Lordship inarguably possesses.

It has been said that timing is everything in life. I have heard that Mr. Justice Low received the news of his elevation to the Court of Appeal three days shy of his 60th birthday and that, in receiving the news, he felt that his appointment was the right time for him and timely for his career. He should be very proud of his hard work in the Supreme Court and we congratulate him now as he takes on this new role.

On behalf of the Law Society of British Columbia and our 10,000 members, we congratulate Mr. Justice Low on this memorable occasion and we offer each of him our full support. Your Lordship, we wish you the very best of luck and look forward to working with you. Thank you.