E-Brief: March 2015
At the March 6 Bencher meeting, Bencher Tony Wilson provided an update on the work of the Lawyer Education Advisory Committee. This year, the committee will review the effectiveness and design of PLTC and the articling program to determine if there is room for improvement. The committee is exploring whether PLTC should include an online component, and whether the Law Society should encourage firms to engage in joint articles. The committee will report back to the Benchers in due course.
Update on the Trinity Western University law school matter
Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson has reserved his decision on applications in the proceedings involving Trinity Western University's proposed law school. The BC government applied to the court for a declaration that Trevor Loke's proceeding against it (Loke v. Minister of Advanced Education and TWU) was moot in light of the Minister of Advanced Education's most recent decision not to accredit the law school. The Chief Justice also heard the Law Society's applications that TWU's petition (TWU v. The Law Society of BC) be heard at the same time as the Loke petition and that the Law Society either be added as a party or be granted intervenor status to that proceeding. If the Chief Justice declares the Loke proceeding moot, then the Law Society applications will themselves become moot. We expect to seek to have the TWU petition against the Law Society heard on the merits in the June/July timeframe. Information on the petitions and other matters related to TWU's proposed law school can be found on the Law Society's website.
Supreme Court of Canada decision on Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
Last month, the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Attorney General of Canada v. Federation of Law Societies of Canada ended a dispute the Law Society of BC started with the federal government in 2001 and upholds the 2013 decision by the BC Court of Appeal. The court recognized as a principle of fundamental justice that the state cannot impose duties on lawyers that undermine their duty of commitment to their clients' causes. As a result, the court accepted that adequate client identification and record-keeping practices were already in place by virtue of the law societies' regulation of their members, and held that all legal professionals are exempt from impugned provisions of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and Regulations.
The Benchers have adopted new rules that permit lawyers acting in a fiduciary capacity, such as an executorship arising from a solicitor-client relationship, to deal with assets under their control in less prescriptive ways, while still requiring lawyers to account for the assets and to allow the Law Society to review the accounts, when necessary. In addition to this rule change, the Benchers have also adopted changes to the rule regarding payment of fees from trust, where now a client must agree in writing to receiving a bill by any means other than that specifically addressed under that rule. The rule amendments can be found here.
Revision and consolidation of Law Society Rules
At their next meeting on April 10, it is expected that the Benchers will adopt revised and consolidated Law Society Rules, to come into effect July 1, 2015. The revision will eliminate decimal numbering, verify and update cross-references, add marginal notes to cross-references to aid recognition, and ensure consistency and economy of language, among other changes. A draft copy of the rules can be downloaded from the highlight on the website.
From the courts
The Supreme Court of BC has issued a practice direction regarding Model Orders – Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act.
The Provincial Court of BC has issued the following notices: Updating the Status of Practice Directions and Notices to the Profession and Prosecution of Offences under the Maa-Nulth First Nations Final Agreement.
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