(December 12, 2007) The Federation of Law Societies of Canada has been granted leave to intervene at the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of Privacy Commissioner of Canada v. Blood Tribe Department of Health. The issue in the case is whether the Privacy Commissioner of Canada can compel production of documents protected by solicitor-client privilege to verify a claim of privilege being asserted under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”). Other intervenors include the Canadian Bar Association, the Advocates Society, the AG Canada and the privacy commissioners of a number of provinces. Federation of Law Societies witnesses before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security urged changes to the proposed law establishing Special Advocate regime in security certificate cases. The Supreme Court of Canada order is here. You can download the factum submitted by the Federation here.
(December 4, 2007) The Federation of Law Societies appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security and urged changes to the proposed law establishing Special Advocate regime in security certificate cases. You can download the document submitted by the Federation here.
Posted on November 14, 2007 The Federation of Law Societies of Canada, the representative of the governing bodies of Canada’s 95,000 lawyers and 3,500 Quebec notaries, has added its voice to the international outcry over the attack by the Government of Pakistan on the rule of law. In a letter to General Pervez Musharraf, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Federation decried the suspension of Pakistan’s constitution, the dismissal of members of the judiciary, including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the government’s suppression of peaceful protest, and the detention of thousands of individuals. “The rule of law and with it an independent judiciary and an independent bar are cornerstones of democracy. The arrest of hundreds of lawyers, whose duty it is to act as advocates of the rule of law and the proper administration of justice, and the suspension of many members of the judiciary is deeply disturbing,” said Michael W. Milani, Q.C., President of the Federation. The Federation encourages the Government of Canada to continue its efforts to persuade President Musharraf to immediately restore the rule of law, reinstate the country’s constitution and demonstrate respect for the human rights of the citizens of Pakistan. Our news release is available here. The Federation’s letter to Letter to General Pervez Musharraf is here.
(August 13, 2007) The following commentary was submitted to the Globe and Mail: Why look to the UK? Canada’s system of lawyer regulation works well. by Michael W. Milani, Q.C. August 8, 2007 In his recent observation on the Canadian legal profession (Philip Slayton, “Why should lawyers be allowed to regulate themselves?”, Comment, August 3, 2007), the author suggests that because law societies govern the legal profession the legal system does not properly serve Canadians. That proposition is simply wrong. That everyone is subject to the law, and that no one is above the law – what we call the “Rule of Law” - is a cornerstone of Canada’s democracy and an underpinning of our constitution. Both governments and courts have consistently recognized that an independent, self-regulated legal profession is fundamental to the maintenance of the Rule of Law. Canada’s law societies are mandated to regulate the legal profession in the public interest. Although the specifics of regulation vary from one province or territory to the next, the nature of the regulation is consistent. To fulfill their public interest mandate, law societies have the responsibility to regulate entrance to the profession, to set standards for professional conduct and to discipline members where necessary. The protection of the public is at the heart of their work. Though independent, law societies are accountable through judicial review and appeal of law society decisions to the courts. For example, the decisions of disciplinary panels are reviewable by the courts in the same way all decisions of administrative tribunals are subject to judicial review. In the case of the most egregious violations of lawyers’ codes of ethics, where criminal activities (such as fraud or money laundering) are involved, , the usual processes of the criminal justice system are engaged, just as they would for any other person who is alleged to have broken the law. The public participates in the governance of lawyers in Canadian jurisdictions through “lay benchers” - board members who are not lawyers - who bring an important independent perspective of the wider public to the regulation of the profession. Members of the public also participate as adjudicators in disciplinary proceedings. The suggestion that laws regarding the regulation of Canadian lawyers should be modeled after reforms recently introduced in the United Kingdom ignores the basic differences between the professions here and there. Had Sir David Clementi, the advisor to the Blair government…
Posted May 2, 2007 The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is pleased to provide submissions to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights for its study on the recent changes to the process by which judges are appointed by the federal government. The submission is available here.
Posted on March 13, 2007 The Federation of Law Societies of Canada takes great pride in the news that its President, William H. Goodridge, Q.C., has been appointed to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. The appointment was announced on March 2, 2007 by the Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and was effective immediately.
Posted on March 13, 2007 The Federation of Law Societies of Canada is pleased to announce that following the appointment of William H. Goodridge, Q.C. to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Michael W. Milani, Q.C. of Saskatchewan has been confirmed as President of the Federation. He had previously been Vice President and President-elect. The decision was made at a meeting of the Federation Council on March 9, 2007, during which Council also designated Bâtonnier Stéphane Rivard, Ad. E., of Quebec as President-elect and elected John A. Campion of Ontario as Vice President. Their terms of office continue until the conclusion of the next Annual Meeting of the Federation to be held November 8-10, 2007 in Regina, Saskatchewan.
(March 13, 2007) In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed with the submissions of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada in Charkaoui v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2007 SCC 9, that certain provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act relating to security certificates violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Court held in part that the provisions infringed the section 7 right to a fair hearing by relying upon secret evidence and were not saved by section 1. The Court accepted the argument that less intrusive means exist to protect sensitive information, noting in particular one identified in the Federation submissions: the use of special advocates to test secret evidence. The Supreme Court of Canada decision is available here. 2007 SCC 9,  1 SCR 350 (CanLII)