Advocacy in Action | February 2024

With Access to Justice Week BC fast approaching, we are pleased to highlight recent accomplishments that reflect members’ commitment to providing a more equitable justice system.

February 2024

Advocacy in Action | February 2024

Modernizing the Family Law Act

CBABC is actively contributing to a consultation that reviews the Family Law Act.

In a recent submission to the Ministry of Attorney General, we offered recommendations to improve the section 211 reporting process, including:

  • Allowing reports to be ordered earlier as part of a triage process to allocate resources.
  • Establishing standardized guidelines for ordering, preparing and receiving reports.
  • Mandating family violence screening and assessment training for lawyers and report writers.

In late November, the Attorney General and Minister of Children and Family Development responded to a CBABC submission urging integration of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into law in B.C. Appreciation was expressed for our recommendations to amend section 203 of the Family Law Act.

Regulation of the Profession

The proposed legislation to introduce a single regulator for lawyers, notaries and paralegals is expected to be tabled in the spring. In our engagement with government, including meetings with the Attorney General, we have asked for greater transparency and disclosure as the legislation is developed. We also continue to push to preserve lawyers’ independence and self-regulation.

Judicial Appointments and Independence

While the Judicial Advisory Committee for BC was reconstituted last summer, we remain at a crisis point with judicial vacancies. Twelve positions are vacant on the BC Supreme Court, with more anticipated in the coming months. Over 16% of trials in B.C. were bumped in 2022 with lack of judges being the main cause. CBABC hosted a meeting with the Minister of Justice in January to discuss timely appointments and the recruitment of applicants to ensure British Columbians can access timely and
effective justice.

We were also pleased to see the Legislature has not disputed the Judicial Compensation Commission’s 2022 Final Report. This means the commission’s recommendations that the government increase the salaries of
BC Provincial Court judges and judicial justices over the next four years will be adopted. This aligns with our recommendations to the Judicial Compensation Commission in January 2023. We expect to hear that with the compensation rebalanced and no need to litigate the government’s actions, applications to the Provincial Court have increased.