E-Brief: February 2015

2015 President and other Benchers sworn in

At the first Benchers meeting of 2015, Chief Judge Thomas Crabtree administered the oath of office, swearing in the Law Society's new president, Ken Walker, QC, first vice-president, David Crossin, QC, and second vice-president, Herman Van Ommen, QC, along with new Bencher for Westminster County, Edmund Caissie.

New strategic plan approved by the Benchers

At their January 30 meeting, the Benchers approved the Law Society's new 2015-2017 strategic plan. Promotion and protection of the public interest remains a key priority for the Law Society, as reflected in its three strategic goals: providing the public better access to legal services; ensuring the public is well served by an innovative and effective Law Society; and working to establish greater public confidence in the rule of law and the administration of justice. The 2015-2017 strategic plan can be found here.

Fiduciary property rules

The Law Society's trust rules are drafted in the expectation that a lawyer will be handling any funds and property as a lawyer. As currently drafted, however, they are equally applicable when a lawyer holds assets as a fiduciary arising from a solicitor-client relationship. The Benchers are considering rule amendments that would permit lawyers acting in a fiduciary capacity to deal with assets under their control in less prescriptive ways, while still requiring the lawyer to account for the assets and to allow the Law Society to review the accounts if necessary. More information concerning the background to this issue may be found here. Please note that this topic was previously referred to as "trust property." The proposed draft rule amendments are attached here. The Law Society welcomes any comments that the profession may have in connection with these proposed rules. Comments may be directed to Michael Lucas at mlucas@lsbc.org

Benchers rescind recent changes to the BC Code

The Benchers have now rescinded changes made in December to Appendix C of the BC Code, which inadvertently restricted the kinds of institutional lenders that lawyers can represent jointly with mortgagors to banks, trust companies or credit unions. The Benchers rescinded the changes to allow the Ethics Committee to have further consultation with the profession concerning the issue. Lawyers who wish to make comments on this issue should do so by March 31, 2015. More information can be found on the Law Society's website.

Solicitors not bound by undertaking to pay hearing fees

The Supreme Court of Canada declared in Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia v. British Columbia (Attorney General), 2014 S.C.C. 59 that the hearing fee scheme in British Columbia was unconstitutional. We have been advised by the Court Services Branch, Ministry of Justice, that despite the fact that the Notice of Trial (Form 40) continues to include an undertaking to pay hearing fees, the province does not consider solicitors to be bound by any such undertaking, and for the purposes of clarity, releases solicitors from it. This also applies to solicitors who have signed the undertaking prior to the declaration of unconstitutionality by the Supreme Court.

Introduction of enhanced search services on myLTSA

The Land Title and Survey Authority of British Columbia has introduced enhanced search services for myLTSA Enterprise customers. For details, click here.

From the courts

The Supreme Court of BC has issued PD-44 Appearance List on Applications, which replaces PD-2 effective January 1, 2015.

The Provincial Court of BC has relaunched its website. Improvements include easier navigation and additional resources for self-represented litigants.

 

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Send your comments or questions to communications@lsbc.org.