As the national voice of Canada’s law societies, when called upon by its member law societies, the Federation provides its views on issues of national importance including matters related to the regulation of the legal profession, solicitor client privilege, and the Rule of Law. Recent advocacy by the Federation includes submissions related to efforts to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, international trade, the regulation of immigration law practitioners and intellectual property agents, amendments to the criminal code and matters related to privacy, public safety and security. The Federation also intervenes before the courts in cases that raise matters of national importance.
The Federation has twice initiated court action in defense of solicitor-client privilege and the legal and ethical duties members of the legal profession owe to their clients. The first challenge involved the application of provisions in the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and related regulations to members of the legal profession. That case resulted in a 2015 decision from the Supreme Court of Canada (Canada (Attorney General) v. Federation of Law Societies of Canada, 2015 SCC) recognizing the duty of commitment to the client’s cause as a principle of fundamental justice. In the most recent initiative, the Federation is challenging the constitutionality of 2023 amendments to the Income Tax Act that expand existing mandatory disclosure obligations requiring legal counsel to share confidential client information with a government agency. A backgrounder is available here.