Federation News Archive - 2019

Federation Statement on Integrity of Supreme Court of Canada Appointment Process

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada expresses its deep concern over published and broadcast reports that have exposed confidential aspects of the appointment process to the Supreme Court of Canada. The judicial appointment process requires that the identity of candidates in the appointment process, and the assessment of those candidates, be kept highly confidential to protect the reputations of the applicants and the institution itself. “Canada’s justice system is the envy of the world. It is vital that our judicial institutions continue to be respected, in Canada and abroad” says Federation President Ross Earnshaw. “By publicly disclosing information about prospective candidates and the merits underlying their consideration during the consultation and deliberation phase of the selection process, an essential feature of the process has been undermined”, he added. “This is an unacceptable violation of what all prospective candidates had been led to expect when they put their names forward.” The task of screening and nominating candidates for the Supreme Court belongs to an Independent Advisory Board, a non-partisan selection committee appointed by the government. The Federation of Law Societies of Canada was consulted on the establishment of the process and is represented on the Advisory Board. The final decision on any Supreme Court appointment rests with the Prime Minister. “When the current process was established, one goal was to eliminate any perception that partisan considerations enter into what Canadians ought to expect to be a purely merit-based appointment process” Federation President Ross Earnshaw emphasizes. “It is critical to the integrity of that process that individuals under consideration have no fear that their identity or other information will be used for any purpose other than the one intended. It is deeply concerning that such information was leaked in this instance.” The Federation is the national coordinating body of the 14 provincial and territorial law societies that regulate Canada’s 125,000 lawyers, Quebec’s 3,800 notaries and Ontario’s 9,000 paralegals in the public interest. It is a leading voice on issues of national and international importance relating to the administration of justice and the rule of the law. Our news release is here.

Advisory document details risks of travelling internationally with an electronic device

The Federation of Law Societies of Canada has published a reference document for the legal profession dealing with the risks of travelling internationally with an electronic device. You can download the document, Crossing the Border with Electronic Devices: What Canadian Legal Professionals Should Know.  This document can be shared directly by law societies with their members; similarly, its contents can be used by law societies in advising their members in regard to practice-specific questions and concerns. The document, developed by the Policy Counsel Counterpart Group of the Federation with the assistance of law society practice advisors, describes the risks of travelling with an electronic device when returning to Canada, going through pre-clearance with U.S. border officials on Canadian soil, and when travelling to the U.S. and beyond. The Policy Counsel Counterpart Group brings together policy counsel from law societies across the country. The document identifies how relevant professional responsibilities may be compromised by border searches of electronic devices, and concludes with 15 recommendations on how Canadian lawyers and Quebec notaries can minimize those risks. According to the publication, Canadian lawyers and Quebec notaries travelling internationally with electronic devices face increasing uncertainty about how those electronic devices will be treated by border agents on apprehension by Canadian Border Security Agency (“CBSA”) officers on return to Canada, by border agents in the U.S., or by border agents in other international destinations. Border agents’ searches of electronic devices (including smart phones, laptops, and USB sticks) of a legal professional may infringe solicitor-client privilege depending on what is accessed by those border agents. With travelers at Canadian airports and border crossings subject to increasing scrutiny, it is important for lawyers and Quebec notaries to understand how the privacy and confidentiality interests of their clients may be impacted by legislation and policies developed to address public safety issues. The document notes that legal counsel should also understand that their profession does not exempt them from policies and processes allowing for access to information that otherwise would be subject to solicitor-client privilege. The document concludes with practical guidance for the legal profession when travelling internationally with electronic devices.  Among the 15 recommendations: lawyers and Quebec notaries consider bringing less data with them when travelling internationally. If  a cloud-based storage provider is used, the legal professional can delete cloud-based applications before crossing the border and reinstall them at their destination. Client contact and calendar information can similarly…