A. Cameron Ward Barristers and Solicitors
A. Cameron Ward
Vancouver BC
Latest Action Post

On October 27, 2003, BC lawyers will have a chance to cast an historic vote. For the first time ever, the Benchers of the Law Society have submitted a fee resolution to the membership which does not include a mandatory CBA fee component.

The Law Society’s initiative comes after five separate lawsuits challenged the validity of the mandatory payment scheme.

Those who take time out to attend the mid day meeting (typically less than 5% of the membership) will also be considering a resolution by CBA supporters that would have the effect of continuing the mandatory CBA fee.

Some additional facts on mandatory CBA fees:

  • New Brunswick is the only other province that has ever forced its lawyers to pay the CBA. Everywhere else in Canada, lawyers are free to choose whether or not to join or financially support the CBA.
  • Ontario’s Benchers recently rejected the concept of mandatory CBA fees.
  • The CBA describes itself as a “voluntary organization”.
  • The Law Society has collected CBA fees as part of the annual practice fee even though it and the CBA are separate and unrelated organizations.
  • The CBA seeks to collect about $4 million from BC lawyers for 2004.
  • Each year, the BC Branch of the CBA spends about $1 million on “activities”.
  • The CBA does not disclose how much it pays its Executive Director or the Executive Director of its BC Branch.
  • The BC Branch spent about $450,000 to create its website, www.bccba.org.

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Statements of Defence filed

September 26, 2003 in Opinion

The Province of British Columbia, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Board have now filed Statements of Defence in response to the Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim that were filed on June 18, 2003. As expected, these defendants deny all allegations of wrongdoing. The plaintiffs have alleged, on behalf of themselves and all others who have been strip-searched at the Vancouver Jail since December 6, 2001, that such searches are routinely done at the jail in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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A Coroner’s Inquest will be held during the week of January 12-16, 2004 into the circumstances surrounding the death of Thomas Evon Stevenson. Mr. Stevenson was shot and killed by two members of the Vancouver Police Department on December 7, 2002 as he sat inside a disabled vehicle on East Pender Street in Vancouver. Mr. Stevenson’s family welcomes this development and looks forward to obtaining some answers into how the incident occurred.

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Law Society AGM adjourned

September 22, 2003 in Opinion

The Law Society of British Columbia attempted to hold its Annual General Meeting on Friday, September 19, 2003, but the meeting was adjourned due to technical difficulties before the substantive business could be conducted. The agenda included a series of practice fee resolutions addressing the issue of whether B.C. lawyers should be compelled to pay fees to the Canadian Bar Association. The Law Society has now announced that the AGM will be continued on October 27, 2003.

The issue of mandatory CBA fee payment is contentious, and at least five B.C. lawyers have taken the Law Society to B.C. Supreme Court over the matter since 1982. The latest to do so, Richard Gibbs, Q.C., a past president of the Law Society, is awaiting a reserved judgment on the question. New Brunswick is currently the only jurisdiction in Canada that still compels lawyers to join the CBA.

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Hyatt civil trial adjourned

September 22, 2003 in News

The trial of the civil cases brought by four Vancouver residents against the Vancouver Police Department in respect of the so-called “Riot at the Hyatt” has been adjourned generally. The trial was to have commenced September 22, 2003 and was expected to last some eight to ten weeks, since the Defendants planned to call about 70 police officers as witnesses. All of the plaintiffs claimed that they were unlawfully assaulted by members of the VPD’s Crowd Control Unit outside the Hyatt Hotel on December 8, 1998.

Meanwhile, an ‘external’ investigation by the New Westminster Police Department into the affair, at the direction of the Office of the Police Complaint Commission, is set to wrap up no later than November 27, 2003. It has taken the OPCC almost five years to deal with the complaints of police brutality filed after the Hyatt incident. Our clients are cooperating fully with the investigation.

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