Advocacy in Action | August 2023


August 2023

As another membership year winds down, the Canadian Bar Association, B.C. Branch continues to play a vital role in championing legal reform, shaping policies, and working to ensure a just and equitable legal system for all. We engage the provincial government through written submissions, committee appearances and informal meetings. Through regular consultation with policymakers, the Law Society of British Columbia, the courts and other stakeholders, we lead initiatives on behalf of the legal profession and in partnership with our justice system partners.

Our advocacy centres around what is important to our members, who develop and decide our policy and law reform positions. The next sitting of the B.C. Legislature starts on Tuesday, October 3. In determining priorities for 2023-2024, we consulted with our members and advisors, and considered the status, importance and urgency of our existing recommendations.

This year, we will place particular focus on the following:

Single Regulator: Advocating for lawyers’ self-regulation to ensure they remain independent from government and that British Columbians’ public rights are protected. CBABC is preparing focused submissions on the proposed scope of practice for notaries as well as meeting with government officials to reinforce our positions, as presented in our submission last fall. Self-regulation means lawyers must be the majority of the governing board.

Legal Aid: Calling for funding toward family law legal aid so families can have legal representation in typical family law matters and more people can access family law legal aid services. These include divorce, guardianship and parenting arrangements, child and spousal support and asset/debt management. This was highlighted in our 21st submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services as part of the government’s Budget 2024 Consultations in June.

Court Modernization: Driving forward digitalization of B.C.’s justice system through recommending the government:

  • Implement presumptively virtual hearings for short, routine matters in civil and family law proceedings, with the ability to appear in-person where needed. We recently delivered a submission to the Attorney General recommending a more intentional and user-centred approach to the design of future virtual courtroom experiences.
  • Develop an online booking system for trials, Chambers and other proceedings.
  • Move all chambers records online so they are accessible to judges, masters, and court clerks regardless of physical location. We have supported the Vancouver Island pilot project.
  • Review the assize system of scheduling trials and long chambers applications and explore an alternative model.

Judicial Independence: Advocating on the issue of judicial independence, increasingly under attack. Recently, the CBA held “Courting Confidence: Preserving Trust in Judicial Independence.” to explore strategies for strengthening the public’s understanding of our justice system through media, public relations
and public education.