Keep your practice current
by Fran Hodgkins
The following are brief summaries of several recent Section meetings held throughout the province. More detailed information, minutes, and Section Papers from the Section meetings are accessible online at www.cba.org/bc for enrolled CBA members.
Administrative Law – Vancouver, Labour and Constitutional/Civil Liberties
Joint Meeting: October 18, 2006
Speakers: Paul Pearlman, QC, Fuller, Pearlman, McNeill; Frank Falzon, Frank A V Falzon Law Corporation; Neena Sharma, Ministry of the Attorney General
Topic: Commentary on McKenzie v. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General et al. (2006) BCSC 1372
At this meeting attended by 47 Section members, counsel for the parties discussed highlights of the decision and provided their perspectives. Paul Pearlman, QC, laid out the facts of the case and stated it was the product of an “amazing” collaboration. Mary McKenzie was determined to go forward with her case and to not accept the consequences of the government’s actions. Frank Falzon emphasized this case’s significance to the administrative justice community, the Bar and the public and he praised the efforts of the B.C. Council of Administrative Tribunals to become involved. Mr. Falzon outlined several reasons why this case is important. Ms. Sharma was not involved as counsel for this case but teaches administrative law and expressed how this case was an important example of the intersection between tribunal and constitutional law.
ADR – Vancouver
Meeting: September 19, 2006
Speaker: Terence W.E. Harris, Mediator and Lawyer
Topic: Cultural Assumptions in Conflict: Perspectives for Conflict Resolution
Mr. Harris shared his insights into how cultural assumptions affect one’s ability to engage in meaningful conflict resolution processes, with an emphasis on mediation. He discussed his recent experience in Uganda where at the university in Kampala he taught and worked with professionals and Masters students in Peace and Conflict Studies. Culture is “the shared and learned patterns of thought and behaviour, characteristic of a given population.” Conflict is described as “a difference that matters.” Terry emphasized that all behaviour makes sense and that as conflict resolvers we need to be curious about how and why. We must be very aware of one’s own embedded cultural norms in conflict and try to take a broader “worldview,” i.e. listening to the conflict story, finding out what is real for the players and what is valuable, pay attention to metaphors and similes which are attached to powerful interests. Mr. Harris presented detailed notes to members on this meeting topic.
Criminal Justice – Vancouver
Meeting: October 18, 2006
Speakers: Terry Milewski, Reporter for the CBC National; Kim Bolan, Reporter for the Vancouver Sun; Joe Bellows, QC, Crown Counsel
Topic: The Role of the Media in Criminal Law
Mr. Milewski focused on the issues that journalists face when covering criminal law proceedings. He addressed the gap between the concept of freedom of publication/expression and the criminal law trial process. Some examples of impediments to the press are: publication bans, the failure to notify the media of upcoming applications for discretionary publication bans, reporters’ inability to access court exhibits, as well as reporters’ inability to record court proceedings. Ms. Bolan, a Vancouver Sun reporter since 1984, said that a journalist’s role is to expose the truth about important issues, noting that reporting often occurs before charges are laid or the matter is in court. She described the press as being the public’s representatives who are “bridges” between what the public perceives is going on in the courts and what is actually happening. Joe Bellows, QC, senior Crown Counsel, identified conflicting interests and perceptions in relation to media and criminal trials. Mr. Bellows advised that if Crown counsel is unwilling or unavailable for comment, the Provincial Crown has a Communications Section whose representative is Stan Lowe. He noted that the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch Communications Section is the only one of its kind in Canada.
Family Law – Westminster
Meeting: October 18, 2006
Speaker: Master Peter Keighley
Topic: Supreme Court Judicial Case Conferences
Master Keighley outlined and discussed with members what can be achieved and how to best prepare to achieve the desired results at Judicial Case Conferences. Master Keighley gives the clients an introductory explanation of the JCC process at the beginning of the JCC and talks about confidentiality, the meaning of “without prejudice” negotiations and the type of orders that can be made. The purpose is education and to set the clients at ease so that they can participate in the process. Some items on his “Do” list for a successful JCC include: make full documentary and financial disclosure in advance of the JCC, particularly if there is real property or substantial financial investments involved as disclosure reduces suspicions between the parties; and formulate a settlement proposal in advance.
Wills and Trusts – Vancouver
Meeting: September 26, 2006
Speaker: D. Peter Ramsay, QC, Chair of the British Columbia Law Institute’s Succession Law Reform Project
Topic: Wills, Estates and Succession: A Modern Legal Framework (June 2006) – Report of the BCLI’s Succession Law Reform Project
This meeting, attended by 52 Section members, heard Mr. Ramsay outline the key recommendations for law reform set out in the project committee’s report in the areas of wills, the Wills Variation Act, intestacy, estate administration, survivorship presumptions, the administration of small estates and certain miscellaneous issues. He informed the members that the report was delivered to the Attorney General in June 2006. Consultation meetings with respect to the report between the project committee and Ministry of Attorney General staff responsible for policy and legislation were underway. The Executive Summary contained in the report can be found at www.bcli.org. It highlights the key recommendations for law reform.
Women Rainmakers – Vancouver Island
Meeting: September 28, 2006
Speaker: Anne Chopra, Equity Ombudsperson
Topic: Role of the Equity Ombudsperson
Members attending this informative meeting heard Anne Chopra discuss her role as the Equity Ombudsperson at the Law Society of B.C. that funds her services though she is independent of the LSBC. Ms. Chopra’s position exists to help counter workplace discrimination and encourage workplace practices that promote equity. The services through Ms. Chopra are confidential and are available free of charge to law firm staff, law and articling students, lawyers, human resource administrators, and law firm managing partners. Ms. Chopra, in her role as Equity Ombudsperson, helps prevent discrimination, resolves concerns over possible discrimination, and promotes healthy work environments. The presentation outlined situational issues and experiences, types of discrimination and the available options if you are being victimized.
Join a Section Listserv!
Listservs are convenient ways for Section members to share information, and ask and answer questions through e-mail. Section listservs are intended to provide an effective and active vehicle for member communication. Learn more about this Section enrolment benefit online at www.cba.org/bc under “Practice Resources.”
Try Out a Section Meeting For Free!
Interested in an area of law you haven’t yet signed up for? See a fascinating topic coming up in another Section? Not yet a CBA member but want to see what we offer? Come to any meeting of your choice – just fill out the form included with this month’s BarTalk, and bring it to the meeting. Go to www.cba.org/bc and click on Sections to see the full calendar of events and speakers to pick from!
This article was published in the December 2006 issue of BarTalk. © 2006 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.