Back to Business!

 

Back to Business!

We normally consider autumn a time to fall back into our normal schedules — with vacations ending and children back in school, this is the time to return to the routine. However, this year has been anything but routine: CBABC found opportunities to work with volunteer members throughout the summer months, advocating on behalf of the profession.

In our last update, we reported on our submission to the Finance Committee for the 2021 provincial budget considerations. That committee released its report in August, and it agreed with CBABC by making the following recommendations to improve access to justice:

  • Increase investments in legal aid services across all eligible areas, including family law legal aid, mental health law, and prison law, to enable expansion of eligibility, scope of services covered, and coverage limits.
  • Increase funding for broad-based community restorative justice programs, including piloting models in areas such as elder abuse and education.
  • Increase investments in Indigenous justice programs and services, including ensuring a distinction-based approach for First Nations, M├ętis and Inuit peoples.
  • Improve access to the courts and justice system through
    investments in digital transformation, including expanding the use of online platforms for virtual hearings, and continuing with pandemic-related measures such as remote swearing of affidavits and witnessing signatures.

CBABC’s response to the Enhanced Care legislation and resulting no-fault auto insurance program was met with a different reply: the provincial government responded (bit.ly/bt1020-au1) that the new legislation will be implemented on schedule in May of 2021, despite CBABC’s concerns that this will harm victims of motor vehicle accidents. The Auto Insurance Working Group rolled up its sleeves and continued to provide submissions to the government:

  • As to a proposal to suspend jury trials (bit.ly/bt1020-au2) for civil matters, CBABC responded that the temporary suspension of jury trials is an acceptable response to the ongoing need to maintain proper social distancing measures in courtrooms during the pandemic;
  • As to a proposal for binding arbitration for motor vehicle accident cases, CBABC responded by stating that binding arbitration (bit.ly/bt1020-au3) ought to be voluntary and costs must be fairly apportioned. The Vancouver International Arbitration Centre was viewed as a good venue
    for this process; and
  • As to amendments to the Evidence Act (bit.ly/bt1020-au4), CBABC indicated that the proposed $3,000 limit on expert reports is insufficient and the government was invited to explore other methods to limit expert report fees; in addition, CBABC indicated that a cap on disbursements is inappropriate, as circumstances in each case should determine the allowance for costs — and that any limit ought to be balanced and not arbitrary.

Our Freedom of Information and Privacy Section also made a major submission for the review to the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) (bit.ly/bt1020-au5), focussing on the need to amend the legislation to keep up with national and international standards on privacy protection. In addition, the submission addressed the issue of the importance of maintaining solicitor-client privilege to ensure that such communications are not required to be released to the Privacy Commissioner.

And on that note, solicitor-client privilege and the need for confidentiality continues to be the main focus of the position CBABC is taking at the Cullen Commission Inquiry into Money Laundering; the hearings are resuming this month and expected to continue into April, with a focus on the role of professionals in money laundering to be heard late November. Stay up to date on the Cullen Commission website (http://bit.ly/bt1020-au6) and live feeds!