B.C. law society benchers approve changes to code of conduct, rules at recent meeting

By Ian Burns ·

Law360 Canada (July 8, 2024, 3:32 PM EDT) -- The Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC) made several amendments to its code of conduct and rules at its most recent bencher meeting, which was held on July 5.

During the meeting, benchers approved amendments to its code of conduct, known as the Code of Professional Conduct for British Columbia (BC Code), in order to accommodate the remote execution of affidavits and solemn declarations. It contained requirements that any affidavits or declarations using electronic or video technology must contain a paragraph that explains the deponent was not physically present before the lawyer as commissioner but was in the lawyer’s “electronic presence.”

The amendments also included provisions for the affidavit or solemn declaration to contain a paragraph acknowledging the solemnity of making the affidavit or solemn declaration and acknowledging the consequences of making an untrue statement as well as other requirements for verifying a person’s identity and administering oaths. It confirms the lawyer and the deponent must both have the text of the affidavit or declaration, including all exhibits, before each of them while in each other’s electronic presence and says the lawyer and the deponent must review the affidavit or solemn declaration and exhibits together to verify that the language is identical.

Benchers also formalized amendments to its rules on bencher elections, making electronic voting processes the “default” process instead of paper-based voting, decreasing the voting period from two weeks to one week and allowing the executive director to approve an application by a lawyer to change voting districts.

Law society executive director and CEO Don Avison provided an update about the law society’s litigation against the Legal Professions Act, which was passed earlier this year. The law society is arguing in court the legislation, which would establish a single legal regulator in the province, is unconstitutional and has asked the B.C. Supreme Court for an injunction to stop the legislation from being implemented while its challenge plays out.

Avison said the ruling on the injunction application is on reserve but said “regardless of that outcome,” he expects the civil claim will proceed in the fall.

The law society’s next bencher meeting is scheduled for Sept. 20.

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