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.