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New BC Supreme Court Judges Announced

Written on Monday, December 30th, 2013

On December 18th, four new justices were appointed by the federal Minister of Justice and Attorney General Peter MacKay to the BC Supreme Court.  The new justices are the Honourable George K. Macintosh, the Honourable Nigel P. Kent, the Honourable Jennifer M.I. Duncan and the Honourable Neena Sharma. Appointments are effective immediately.

The Honourable George K. Macintosh was formerly a lawyer with Farris, Vaughn, Wills and Murphy LLP in Vancouver.  He obtained his LLB from Dalhousie University in 19072 and was called to the Bar of British Columbia in 1974 and the Alberta Bar in 1980.  He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1987.  Mr. Justice Macintosh practiced with Farris, Vaughn, Wills & Murphy LLP since 1974.  His main areas of practice were civil litigation, administrative law, constitutional law and arbitration.

The Honourable Nigel P. Kent, formerly a lawyer with Clark Wilson LLP in Vancouver, is appointed a judge to replace Mr. Justice R.B.T. Goepel, who was recently appointed to the Court of Appeal of BC.  Mr. Justice Kent received his LLB from Dalhousie University in 1980 and he was admitted to the Alberta Bar in 1981.  He was admitted to the BC Bar in 1991, the year he came to work at Clark Wilson LLP.  His main practice area was civil litigation, including insurance law, corporate and commercial law, personal injury, and professional liability law.

The Honourable Jennifer M.I. Duncan, formerly Crown Counsel with the Ministry of Justice, Criminal Justice Branch, in Vancouver , is appointed a judge of the BC Supreme Court to replace Madam Justice R.J. Dillon, who elected to become a supernumerary judge.  Madam Justice Duncan received her Bachelor of Laws from the University of British Columbia in 1990 and was called to the Bar of BC in 1992.  She was appointed Queen's Counsel in 2012.  Madam Justice Duncan served as Crown counsel for the BC Ministry of Justice, Criminal Justice Branch - Criminal Appeals in Vancouver from 1998 until her appointment to the Supreme Court of BC.  Her main practice area was criminal law and, more recently, criminal appellate advocacy.

The Honourable Neena Sharma. formerly a lawyer with the Ministry of Justice in Vancouver, is appointed a judge of the BC Supreme Court to replace Madam Justice W.G. Baker, who elected to become a supernumerary judge.  Madam Justice Sharma obtained her LLB from the University of Victoria in 1990 and was called to the BC Bar in 1992.  From 1995 until her appointment to the bench, she was legal counsel with the BC Ministry of Justice, Legal Services Branch.  Before that she was an associate at Alexander Holburn Beaudoin & Lang.  She also served as a law clerk to Chief Justice Brian Dickson of the Supreme Court of Canada.  Her main practice area was civil litigation with a focus on constitutional and administrative law and, more recently, labour relations.

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Published in BC Law Watch

New changes to BC criminal court process

Written on Friday, December 27th, 2013

ELAN, the Legal Services Society blog, wrote recently about two important changes to the Provincial Court's criminal court process.

The first change is that mandatory trial confirmation hearings have been eliminated.  Generally, these hearings were held after the accused entered a not guilty plea to make sure that both parties were prepared for trial.  Hearings are now optional and will only be scheduled if necessary.  As noted by the Elan post, this means lawyers will no longer have to prepare trial readiness reports and arraignment reports.

The second change is that the first appearance and the arraignment hearing may be heard by a judicial case manager instead of a justice of the peace or a judge.  This expands the authority of judicial case managers but also cuts down on wait times for an available justice of the peace or judge.

Both of these changes are meant to speed up the court process by moving simple matters from first appearance to arraignment within 60 days; more complex matters within 90 days.  ELAN anticipates that "more changes are in the works for 2014, which will help cut down on wasted court time."

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Published in BC Law Watch

BC bolsters Provincial Court with three new judges

Written on Monday, December 23rd, 2013

On Thursday, December 12, Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton announced that BC was appointing three new judges to the BC Provincial Court, in order to alleviate caseload pressures and improve access to justice.

Judge Lyndsay Smith was called to the BC bar in 1988, after graduating from UBC Law in 1987.  She worked as Crown counsel, then as ad hoc federal counsel before joining the federal Department of Justice in 1993.  In 1998, Judge Smith began her own practice and was a sole practitioner until January 2012.  Her practice focused largely on ad hoc federal and provincial Crown counsel work.

Judge Richard Hewson graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada in 1987.  He was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Canadian Army and served four more years.  He received his law degree from UVic Law in 1994.  In 2012 he began work on a masters of laws from Osgoode Hall.  Judge Hewson was called to the BC bar in 1995.  He started his career with Boulton Muldoon, continued it at Davidson & Co. and then moved on to Richard Hewson Law Corporation.  He also was a legal officer with the Office of the Judge Advocate General.

Judge Lisa Wyatt was called to the bar in 1991, after graduating with her law degree from UBC Law in 1990.  She began her career at Porter Ramsay, first as an articled student and then as an associate.  In 1996, she moved to Pushor Mitchell LLP, where she started as an associate and then became a partner.  Judge Wyatt's practice focused on family law during these years.  She is also a past president of the Kelowna Bar Association and has been an elected member of the CBA's Provincial Council.

Judge Lyndsay Smith's appointment in effective January 6, 2014.  Judge Hewson's appointment is effective December 23, 2013 and Judge Wyatt's appointment is effective December 30, 2013.

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Published in BC Law Watch

LSBC Benchers approve joint task force recommendations

Written on Friday, December 20th, 2013

At their December meeting, the Law Society of British Columbia Benchers voted on, and unanimously approved, three recommendations from its joint task force on the future of the regulation of legal services.

The following three recommendations were approved in principle:

  • The Law Society and the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia should seek to merge regulatory operations.
  • A program should be created by which the legal regulator provide paralegals who have met specific, prescribed education and/or training standards with a certificate that would allow them to be held out as "certified paralegals."
  • The Law Society develop a regulatory framework in which other providers of legal services could be credentialed and regulated in the public interest.

These recommendations come from the final report of the Legal Service Providers Task Force, which was presented on December 6, 2013.  The Task Force examined the question of whether various legal service providers, including lawyers, notaries public and paralegals, should be brought under one regulatory umbrella.

These recommendations could transform the regulation and delivery of  legal services in BC.

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Published in BC Law Watch

Harris awarded 2013 UBC Faculty Scholar Award

Written on Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Professor Nikos Harris has received the 2013 Marilyn MacCrimmon Faculty Scholar Award for his history of contributions at UBC Law.  Some of Professor Harris' notable initiatives include curriculum reform, the creation of the UBC Law Innocence Project, and the organization of the Peter Burns Moot.  This year, Professor Harris has taken on the new role of Director , Clinical and Experiential Learning.

Professor Harris has also played an active role in Orientation Week for first year law students, along with serving on numerous law school committees, including Admissions and Curriculum. Professor Harris regularly helps out both colleagues and students alike.  The Faculty, as stated in its news release, "has greatly benefited from Professor Harris' collegiality, energy and enthusiasm."

The award, generously supported by the law firm Taylor Jordan Chafetz, carries with it a $5,000 research grant.  Each year, the award is made in the mane of an Emeritus Faculty member whose career at UBC Law exemplifies the purpose of the Award, rotating to a new Emeritus Faculty member every two years.  This year's honour is made in the name of Professor Emeritus Marilyn MacCrimmon, one of the first two women appointed to full professor at UBC Law.


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Published in BC Law Watch
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