SCC ruling in TWU validates CBA’s position

  • June 15, 2018

Today the Supreme Court handed down its decisions in two cases involving a proposed law school at Trinity Western University, with a majority ruling that asserts the value of equality and inclusiveness in the legal profession.

The Court had before it a wide range of views on the issue, and its decision clarifies the mandate of law societies to promote diversity in the legal profession and to eliminate unfair barriers to legal education and the profession. It emphasizes that a diverse and inclusive bar improves the quality of and access to legal services. 

“The Supreme Court’s decision today is consistent with the CBA’s commitment to promote equality in the legal profession,” says CBA President Kerry L. Simmons, Q.C. “Essentially the Court is saying that admission to law school should be based on competence, and not on what they call ‘personal characteristics’ unrelated to merit.”

The Court agreed with CBA’s arguments that deference is owed to law society decisions and that it was reasonable for the societies to refuse to recognize a law school at TWU on the basis that its mandatory covenant caused harm to a community and limited access to legal education and the legal profession.

“The decision wasn’t just an exercise in balancing Charter rights,” continues the CBA President, “but also in balancing those rights against the mandates of law societies in the protection of the public interest.”

The CBA intervention was based on a resolution on non-discrimination in legal education adopted at the  February 2014 Council meeting and on consultations with its representative constituent groups.