E-Brief: April 2013

Benchers rescind commentary on statements of account from BC Code

At their April 5 meeting, the Benchers rescinded commentary [1] of rule 3.6-3 of the BC Code, dealing with statements of account. The Benchers have requested that the Ethics Committee consult the profession further about the commentary and then recommend either restoring the commentary in its current form, restoring it in a modified form or permanently eliminating the commentary. While commentary [1] has been rescinded, the rule itself and commentary [2] remain in place. See the website highlight. Lawyers may comment by contacting Law Society staff lawyer Jack Olsen by April 30, 2013 at jolsen@lsbc.org.

Law Society launches lawyer support and advice survey

On April 11, the Law Society will launch a telephone survey of a random sample of BC lawyers. The survey will be conducted by Sentis Research Inc. The goal is to assess all of the advice and support services offered to lawyers by the Law Society in order to identify opportunities to provide those services more efficiently and effectively. See the Spring Benchers' Bulletin for more. Questions about the survey can be directed to Law Society Chief Information and Planning Officer Adam Whitcombe at awhitcombe@lsbc.org.

New guidelines for search warrants at law offices

At the request of Associate Chief Justice Austin Cullen of the BC Supreme Court, the Law Society has drafted recommended guidelines for the execution of search warrants at law offices. Instances of police executing search warrants in lawyers' offices are rare, but when it does occur steps must be taken to preserve solicitor-client privilege. Among the recommended terms is the appointment of a referee, to be drawn from the list of special prosecutors, who would search and seize documents in accordance with the warrant. The documents are to be delivered to the custody of the BC Supreme Court. The guidelines then enumerate the manner in which claims of privilege can be addressed. See Tab 11 of the April Benchers meeting agenda for more.

Law societies' rules to fight money laundering are effective – BC Court of Appeal ruling

The BC Court of Appeal has ruled that, if the federal Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act were applied to the legal profession, it would interfere with the independence of the Bar to an unacceptable degree. The appeal was brought by the federal government from a 2011 BC Supreme Court decision that exempted lawyers from the federal legislation. In rejecting the government's case, the Court of Appeal also stated the regulation of lawyers by law societies was an effective and constitutional way to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. See the ruling.

PST resources available for lawyers

The provincial sales tax is now in effect, and lawyers who render client accounts should be registered with the provincial government, whether or not they had been previously registered. For information, lawyers should refer to the government's latest PST Bulletin. Also, a PST FAQ for lawyers is available on the Law Society website.

Law Society 2012 annual report now available

The Law Society's 2012 Report on Performance provides a progress update on the first year of the 2012 – 2014 Strategic Plan and a review of our regulatory performance. Key performance and bellwether measures evaluate the effectiveness of Law Society programs and form a critical part of our regulatory transparency, intended to inform the public as well as lawyers, the media and government. 

Call for candidates: CLEBC board of directors

Lawyers practising in the counties of Kootenay, Nanaimo, Victoria and Westminster are invited to apply to fill four vacancies on the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC board of directors. CLEBC’s by-laws call for these appointments to be made jointly by the presidents of the Law Society and the Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch. See the website highlight.

From the courts

The BC Supreme Court has issued several new Practice Directions:

  1. FPD – 9 Return Applications pursuant to 1980 Hague Protocol – Procedural Requirements
  2. FPD – 10 Standard Directions for Appeals from Provincial Court – Family Law Act
  3. FPD – 11 Divorce Applications
  4. FPD – 12 Judicial Case Conferences
  5. PD – 42 Masters’ Jurisdiction

Also see: Electronic notification process for release of reserved written reasons for judgment.

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