How the legislation was passed

The Law Society is grateful to the members of the legislature who offered their support for the bill and, in particular, Attorney General Shirley Bond. Also instrumental were outgoing Deputy Attorney General David Loukidelis, QC, Assistant Deputy Minister Jay Chalke, QC, and the ministry staff who worked with the Law Society on the draft legislation – particularly staff from the Civil Policy and Legislation Office, Legislative Counsel and the Justice Education Law Group.

Prior to introduction of Bill 40, the society consulted with MLAs on both sides of the house to ensure they were aware of how the requested amendments proposed to improve the Law Society’s ability to protect the public interest.

The bill received first reading on April 30, 2012 with the following introductory comments by Attorney General Shirley Bond.

I am very pleased to introduce the Legal Profession Amendment Act, 2012. The bill will amend the existing Legal Profession Act and create a new modernized act.

These amendments have been requested by the Law Society of British Columbia, which has worked in close partnership with ministry staff in the development of this legislation. The amendments affirm that the protection of the public interest is the paramount purpose and mandate of the Law Society of British Columbia.

This change will modernize the Law Society’s budgeting process and bring it in line with the vast majority of regulatory bodies….

The Law Society of British Columbia believes that these amendments will make British Columbia a leader in Canada in the regulation of the profession of law.

Second reading of the bill, which occurred on May 3, 2012, featured comments by the opposition critic of the Attorney General, Leonard Krog.

The bill, as the Attorney General has announced, makes a number of changes, all positive, all done in fairly lengthy consultation over a long period of time with the Law Society of British Columbia and with a fair bit of input….

Some of the changes may appear somewhat subtle, but they are in fact important. One of the things that I would mention is the existing legislation, the existing Legal Profession Act, with respect to the object and duty of the society….

It emphasizes, very clearly, the responsibility that has been given to the Law Society by legislation and makes it absolutely clear, crystal-clear, to the public that there is not some conflicting duty to protect, to regulate the practice of law and to uphold and protect the interests of its members. There is not some conflict there. The paramount object and duty of the society, the clear object and duty of the society, is to “protect the public interest in the administration of justice.”

Further comments were provided by MLA Bill Bennett who, like Krog, is also a lawyer. “In conclusion, these improvements to the Legal Profession Act will improve public confidence in BC lawyers and will enable stronger oversight by the Law Society of British Columbia. But it is important for me as a lawyer to say that generally, lawyers serve their clients very effectively and with very few complaints from the public, as my friend from Nanaimo said.”

The bill received third and final reading on May 9, 2012, was passed without amendment and became law on Royal Assent on May 14, subject to some provisions that will come into effect by regulation.