Law Society Essay Contest for BC Secondary Students 2017-18

Please spread the word on this exciting opportunity for all BC Grade 12 students and any secondary school students who have taken, or are currently enrolled in Law 12 or Civic Studies 11:

The Law Society congratulates essay contest winner Angela Tian (pictured left), a grade 12 student from Burnaby South Secondary School, and runner-up Sylvan Lutz (pictured right), a grade 12 student from Reynolds Secondary School in Victoria, for their outstanding essays on the rule of law.

Do you have an interest in the legal and justice system? Are you passionate about upholding fundamental freedoms and rights for all persons? Do you value every person’s right to equality before the law? Show us what you know and submit an essay to our contest:

How does social media interact with the rule of law?

The winning entry will be awarded a $1,000 prize, and the runner up will receive a $500 prize. The first place winner and runner up will be invited to an awards presentation event at the Law Society in Vancouver. Deadline for submissions is April 6, 2018.

For further details, download the flyerinformation sheet and submission guidelines.

The Rule of Law and Lawyer Independence Advisory Committee launched the annual essay contest in 2015 for BC secondary school students to reaffirm the significance of the rule of law and to enhance students’ knowledge and willingness to participate actively in civic life.

If you have questions about the contest, contact Policy & Legal Services.

Stay informed with the Law Society of BC:

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Final Report of BC Family Justice Unbundled Legal Services Project

We previously discussed “Unbundling” in this introductory post.

In short, unbundled legal services means clients pay for some assistance depending on: (1) what they want help with and (2) what they can afford. It is ideal for clients who value cost predictability and prefer to play a more active role in their own legal matter.

The BC Family Justice Unbundled Legal Services Project has now released their Final Report, which gives some more background on the project designed to encourage more BC family lawyers to offer unbundled legal services to BC families who wish to resolve issues arising from separation and divorce through out-of-court processes including mediation. The Report details the project’s activities, and contemplates the future of the project.

The Report also highlights places where you can learn more about Unbundling, namely the unbundling website: http://unbundling.ca

You may also access the Unbundling Roster on the Clicklaw HelpMap here.

Please spread the word with your colleagues, friends and family; as the Report notes, the Roster “will only be effective and sustainable if the public knows about it and uses it.”

Stay informed:

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September 2017 Events (Surrey, Vancouver, Kelowna, Victoria, BC-wide)

Bookmark this post! It will be updated as more events are announced. You can also get frequent updates via our Twitter. Have a suggestion? Email us.

  • September 6-19 (various dates): Access Pro Bono Advice-a-Thon:
    • September 6 (10am-2pm) Surrey
    • September 8 (10am-5pm) Vancouver
    • September 12 (10am-2pm) Kelowna
    • September 15 (10am-2pm) Victoria
    • September 19 (4-6pm) BC-Wide Telephone Clinic

Clients will be low-and modest-income individuals, including homeless people who may otherwise have limited access to traditional free legal advice clinics. Most clients will have pre-scheduled appointments, while others will simply drop in for free legal advice on a wide range of issues. We hope that with your support we can make this year’s event our most successful one yet! E-mail: help[at]accessprobono.ca

We offer Social Support and share legal resources in a confidential setting. This group is run by Self Represented Litigants for Self Represented Litigants. We have a great group with lots of experience to share! We meet monthly. RSVP at the following link: https://supportforcourt.ca/support-groups-2/british-columbia

  • Wednesday, September 13 (9:30am-12pm): The New Societies Act: What You Need to Know at 100 – 938 Howe Street, Vancouver.

There are more than 27,000 non-profit societies in BC, providing services and programs that touch virtually every citizen. All pre-existing BC societies need to transition to the new BC Societies Act. The Act includes many significant changes. There is a two-year transition period by which time all societies in BC will have to have filed a transition application. This workshop will provide your society with the information it needs on whether to make any bylaw or policy changes necessary for your society to transition to effectively function under the new Act. Details & registration for this workshop. Questions? administrator@lawfornonprofits.ca

  • Monday, September 18 (5:30-7pm): Amici Curiae’s newest Workshop – VPL at Alma VanDusen Room, VPL Central Branch, Downtown Vancouver.

Amici Curiae is excited to announce it is launching a new legal forms workshop in partnership with the Vancouver Public Library. This new workshop will ultimately be at the centrally located Oakridge Branch and will offer assistance with legal forms, including in the areas of: BC Court of Appeals (civil and family law matters); Supreme Court of BC Civil and family law matters; Provincial Court of BC affidavits; BC Human Rights Tribunal applications; and employment, tenancy and foreclosure matters.

Our free service is available to the public, including battered women, transgender persons, and Indigenous people. We will be hosting an information session and we invite you to come hear more about the services we will be offering at this new workshop. Please RSVP by e-mail to Yvonne Choi at YChoi@harrisco.com.

  • Wednesday, September 20 (1-2:30pm): Nidus logo_niduspresentation at 1420 West 12th Avenue, Vancouver.

Attend a free presentation conducted by a Nidus-trained volunteer. Learn about planning for incapacity and end-of-life. Find out how to book an appointment for personal help to make and register your planning documents. No registration required.

  • Thursday, September 21 (8:30am-5pm): 2017 Info Summit at UBC Robson Square Theatre, Vancouver.

Presented by: BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association

Given the recent shift in the provincial political climate, we are pleased to announce that we are breaking away from the biennial tradition this year and will be hosting our 7th BC Information Summit on September 21, 2017 at UBC Robson Square. This is an important time in the information and privacy landscape. The change of political leadership in BC gives us the opportunity to bring much-needed attention to the major deficits in our access to information and privacy frameworks. Major changes are on the horizon in terms of the freedom of information systems at both the federal and provincial levels. Courts, committees and Commissioners have made major recommendations for change which would bring major changes to the system. This Conference has assembled a range of experts from varying backgrounds to look at these developments and what they might mean for information and privacy rights.

The “Her Everyday Resilience (H.E.R.) Multicultural Women’s Group” is a drop-in group that is held once a month from September to March (except December) for multicultural women who have experienced violence in relationships in their past or present. Hosted by MOSAIC’s Stopping the Violence Counselling and Multicultural Outreach Services, it’s free and confidential. If you know a woman who may benefit from this group, please share this information with her and encourage her to call the Women’s Support Worker at 604-254-9626 ext. 1081. If a woman isn’t yet ready to do group work, the STV Counselling program and Multicultural Outreach Services can also provide individual counselling support and outreach for those who have experienced, or are at risk of, abuse, threats, violence in relationships, sexual assault, or childhood abuses. Register online.

AMSSA is a unique province-wide association that strengthens over 70 member agencies as well as hundreds of community stakeholder agencies who serve immigrants and newcomers, and build culturally inclusive communities, with the knowledge, resources and support they need to fulfill their mandates. Celebrate their 40th anniversary. Register online.

For information, please contact Rita Hatina, Director of Finance & Administration, at 604-673-3125 or rhatina@clasbc.net

Stay informed:

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For those affected by BC Wildfires

The 2017 wildfires have displaced many people in large and small BC communities. They’ve also given rise to many legal issues and questions.

In response to the 2017 wildfires, Access Pro Bono has:

  • set up a free telephone advice service (1-877-762-6664) for affected people; and
  • enlisted several volunteer lawyers to provide answers to frequently asked legal questions in different areas of law covered in separate information sheets (currently being developed):

The Info Sheets are being updated here: http://www.accessprobono.ca/news/2017/apb-offers-telephone-advice-service-legal-info-people-affected-bc-wildfires

Stay informed with Access Pro Bono:

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Organization of the Month | July 2017

This month, we feature Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS), a Clicklaw contributor.

Meet Samrah

Samrah Mian is the Intake Coordinator for the Community Law Program at CLAS. Samrah acts as the first point of contact for all clients and advocates accessing the Community Law Program’s services. She listens to their stories, gleans relevant information, helps clients gather documents from various sources in order to complete a program intake, and links clients and callers to other resources and referrals when appropriate. She also plays a role in community outreach, public legal education and research, and works towards program goals surrounding residential tenancy.

Thanks for talking to me today, Samrah. Can you tell me more about what you do?

I was hired about a year ago at CLAS, in a newly created position, intended to streamline and simplify intakes with the hope that clients could quickly reach someone who would be able to help them immediately and that this would lessen the load on the rest of the program staff.

What I truly appreciate is the diversity of the work that my job involves. I’ve been given the opportunity to become involved in public engagement, conducting research and learning more about poverty law topics that interest me.

Can you tell me more about what your Community Law Program (CLP) is working on?

Besides providing direct services to hundreds of people every year, we’re involved in a number of systemic advocacy actions.

Our program is active in lobbying for changes to residential tenancy laws and procedures at the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB). We supported the new legislative amendments that allowed tenants fleeing family violence to be able to end their fixed-term tenancies early and we actively work with the RTB to improve practices.

Outside of residential tenancy, our recent work includes a case that resulted in the repeal of discriminatory income assistance policies and we are currently challenging the validity of forced psychiatric treatments under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We also intervened at the Supreme Court of Canada in a human rights case that will determine whether the BC Human Rights Tribunal can deal with complaints of workplace harassment involving co-workers, customers, contractors and other non-supervisory personnel in the workplace.

Very cool to hear. What about your direct services? When should people refer to CLP?

Here’s a handy chart:

A good time to refer to CLPNot a good time to refer to CLP
Your client has received an Order of Possession from the Residential Tenancy Branch and is required to leave their homeYour client has received a Notice of Eviction from their landlord
After a co-op board meeting, your client’s membership has been terminatedYour client is receiving letters from their co-op that threaten to cancel her membership if she doesn’t comply with their terms
Your client has been served with court papers from the bank holding the mortgage in the house that they live in Your client has missed a mortgage payment
Your client has received a decision from the Workers Compensation Appeal TribunalYour client has received a decision from a WCB officer
Your client has received a decision from the Social Security Tribunal or the Employment and Assistance Appeal TribunalYour client has been told that they are not eligible for income assistance by a government branch such as the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (now Social Development and Poverty Reduction)
Your client has had a human rights tribunal hearing and lost the hearingYour human rights claim has been accepted and you are seeking representation (in this case, the Human Rights Clinic would be a good referral)
Your client has received a decision from the Employment Standards TribunalYour client is being harassed by their employer and want to file a complaint with the Employment Standards Branch
Your client has received a decision from the Mental Health Review Panel or is being detained under the Adult Guardianship Act or has been issued a Certificate of Incapability under the Adult Guardianship ActYour client has been involuntarily detained under the Mental Health Act (if they have applied for a review panel hearing, they can apply to the Mental Health Law Program for representation)

Fantastic. I think that will be an excellent tool for people to have when making referrals. Anything else CLP is working on that you’re excited about?

We’re currently building self-serve website called BC Judicial Review Self-Help Guide where self-represented litigants can walk through the judicial review process and download templates that will make it easier for them to file for a review. In the past, this used to be a very long PDF but we’ve updated it to make it easier to follow. We’re also making different ‘streams’ for different legal issues. We currently have the residential tenancy and workers’ compensation streams up and we’ll be working on human rights and some other tribunals soon.

What’s the biggest misconception that people have about CLP?

One big misconception is that we can represent all clients in all types of legal matters for free!

The legal services that we provide through the Community Law Program are free of charge but, in reality, our program mandate is limited. We’ve done some work to spread awareness about this fact but we still get the occasional phone call from a client who wants our help in suing their dentist.

Our primary intake criteria is assisting low-income clients resolve their legal disputes when they have a decision from an administrative tribunal in the areas of work-related legal issues, human rights, government benefits, housing, and mental health law. In addition, we can also help individuals when their co-op membership is terminated, we can provide advice to low-income homeowners when their house is being foreclosed upon and we can help with certain situations in regards to adult guardianship.

CLAS serves the entire province of BC, and our other programs include the BC Human Rights Clinic, the Community Advocates Support Line and the Mental Health Law Program.

Thanks for clearing that up. I hope this helps spread the word, and better connects people to CLAS.

Me too. Speaking of connecting, we are holding our Working CLAS Blues fundraiser on October 26, 2017. If you’re in the lower mainland, we’d love it if you could join us for a night of music, dancing and social justice. Contact Dianne Bankay dbankay@clasbc.net for more information.

Sounds like fun. Last question–what’s something you enjoy when you aren’t working?

I volunteer at Battered Women’s Support Services Family Law Information Clinic along with a team of legal interns. I also spend time reading contemporary literature and listening to HowStuffWorks podcasts.

Stay informed with CLAS:

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July 2017 Events (Online, Vancouver, BC-wide)

Bookmark this post! It will be updated as more events are announced. You can also get frequent updates via our Twitter. Have a suggestion? Email us.

Join the BC Civil Liberties Association for the Canada 150 Fireworks! Celebrate the BCCLA’s work to restore citizenship equality with a spectacular view— from the Gastown rooftop patio of our hosts artist Franke James and Billiam James! The party starts at 9:00pm and goes until after the fireworks display. This party celebrates three years of work fighting to repeal the changes made by Bill C-24, and restore citizenship equality for every Canadian, regardless of where they or their families were born. Registration for this event is now closed. If you’d like to attend, email charlotte@bccla.org

  • July 5-26 (various dates): Nidus logo_niduspresents online webinars on Personal Planning

Wednesday, July 5 (11:30-12:30pm) Online Webinar: Live Demo of the Personal Planning Registry. Register Online.

Wednesday, July 26 (11:30-12:30pm) Online Webinar: Planning for Financial & Legal Matters. Register Online.

Presented by: BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association and Courthouse Libraries BC

Have you ever filed an FOI request that is met with bureaucratic obstacles, outrageous fee estimates, or documents with blanked-out pages? Do you want to file an FOI request, but are unsure about the best way to get the documents you want? This skills training workshop will provide newcomers to FOI with practical skills to prepare and submit information requests that get results, and to navigate some common challenges that can arise as requests are processed.

Through this interactive webinar, you will be able to actively engage with the workshop facilitator, so regardless of your experience filing FOI requests, this will be an invaluable opportunity to learn new skills and how to file requests strategically to avoid redactions, exemptions, missing pages that are “out of scope,” and keep fees at a minimum.

Join us to find out how to get beyond government messaging and PR spin and find out how public bodies really treat issues you care about.

  • Wednesday, July 12 (3pm-4:30pm): Seniors Program – Tea, Talk and Crumpets (PWD, OAS, CPP) in Yaletown Roundhouse Community Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews), Vancouver. A new social and recreational outlet for seniors with disabilities. This is a peer-run program with a volunteer board planning activities. The speaker is Laurette Yelle, who will be discussing Persons with Disabilities information and the transition to Old Age Security (OAS) and the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).

RSVP to Dan Chalcraft community@bccerebralpalsy.com or 604 408 9484. Light refreshments provided.

  • Thursday, July 20 (10:45am-12pm): Seniors First BC presents an Elder Abuse Workshop in Cantonese held in Killarney Community Centre (6260 Killarney Street), Vancouver. Elder Abuse: What Is It? How Do We Deal With It?

Stay informed:

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2017 Bi-Monthly Update Series: May/June

To keep you informed, here are some highlights of changes and updates made to Clicklaw in May and June:

Jan-Feb | Mar-Apr | May-Jun | Jul-Aug | Sep-Oct | Nov-Dec


Indigenous Law Research Unit (ILRU)

ILRU is committed to the recovery and renaissance of Indigenous laws. The following resources build awareness of Indigenous laws:

Legal Services Society

Legal Help for British Columbians
by Courthouse Libraries BC

All chapters have been recently reviewed and updated by a team of reviewers and contributors, all volunteers from the BC legal profession. This guide provides first steps to address over 40 common legal problems and information on where to get help. Published on Clicklaw Wikibooks, it is available in multiple media formats: wikibook, EPUB (for reading on a tablet or e-reader), PDF (print version), and printed books (will be available soon at public libraries across BC).

RDSP Tutorial
by PLAN Institute

This online tutorial helps you learn about Canada’s Registered Disability Savings Plan. You can navigate through the chapters at your own pace or go directly to a specific question from the list on the homepage.

Standardized wording for Bail, Probation and Conditional Sentence Orders
by Provincial Court of BC

This resource has a list of picklists, which are lists of standardized terms for court orders. They are stored in courtroom computers so a Court Clerk can use them to quickly and accurately capture the order a judge makes. When a judge decides to change the standard wording, a Court Clerk can edit the term accordingly.

Trans Rights BC
by Catherine White Holman Centre and the VCH Transgender Health Information Program

This website is part of a project that aims to disseminate human rights information that is accurate, accessible, and relevant to the safety and well-being of trans and gender-diverse individuals and their supportive allies across British Columbia.

Oversight at the Border: A Model for Independent Accountability at the Canada Border Services Agency
by BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA)

In this new report, BCCLA proposes a model for providing independent oversight and accountability to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). It also includes detailed recommendations on the components necessary to ensure effective, credible oversight and review of CBSA’s activities.

New Common Questions

With help from BC FIPA, we have added the following questions:

Updated common question: Is marijuana legal in BC?

Now includes the following resources from the federal government:

Stay informed:

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Organization of the Month | June 2017

This month, we feature People’s Law School, a Clicklaw contributor and early Clicklaw Wikibooks adopter.

// New Website

PLS launched a new website yesterday at peopleslawschool.ca.

PLS is a BC non-profit providing free education and info to help people “work out life’s legal problems.”

The website is responsive and mobile-friendly, and it focuses on providing plain language legal information on areas where there isn’t a lot of information available online:

  • Cars & Getting Around;
  • Consumer;
  • Wills & Estates;
  • Money (additional content to come in the months after launch); and
  • Work (additional content to come in the months after launch).
Image 1: Document builder for Agreement for Sale of Used Vehicle

The new website focuses on clean, visual and interactive design, with practical tools such as template letters and document builders, that people can use to take steps to address their problem. For example, they provide a document builder so you can draft your own agreement when selling a used car (See Image 1). You can provide feedback on the beta site here.

In addition to providing linkages to their resources on Clicklaw, PLS continues to be a big contributor to the Wikibooks. PLS is committed to delivering information digitally, in addition to their in-person services and print publications.

// Justice Theatre

The Justice Theatre program stages interactive theatre performances in classrooms and community settings around the province, featuring legal issues relevant to the everyday lives of students and those with unique legal needs. In the months ahead, PLS will be working to develop curriculum resources for teachers to use before and after the Justice Theatre comes for their performance visits, working to have a more seamless integration with learning happening in the classroom.

// Online Classes

PLS will be developing a program to deliver classes online, zeroing in on their focus areas listed above, along with newer topics such as neighbour law. They will continue providing their in-person Learn @ Lunch sessions, as well as evening classes across the province with partnering community organizations and public libraries.

// Get Involved

There are many ways to contribute as a volunteer with People’s Law School – you can also sign up for their newsletter at the footer of their new site.

// Acknowledgements

Thank you to Patricia Byrne, Executive Director, and Drew Jackson, Legal Content Developer, for providing the information for this post.

People’s Law School would like to thank the Law Foundation of BC for their support in building the new website.

Stay informed with PLS:

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Big Changes to Small Claims

Small Claims under $5001

Last week, the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT)–Canada’s first online tribunal–began accepting small claims disputes $5000 and under.

Small claims disputes that the CRT can resolve include a wide variety of issues between individuals and organizations. You can start with the Solution Explorer, the first step in the CRT process, to find information and self-help tools for your issue. You can also apply for dispute resolution right from the Solution Explorer.

If you go through to obtain a CRT order, it may be enforced by filing it in the BC Provincial Court. When you do so, it has the same force and effect as a judgment of the BC Provincial Court.

What about Small Claims over $5000?

The BC Provincial Court now handles Small Claims cases between $5001 and $35,000. The Court has put together a helpful page that goes over the changes, including:

  • types of disputes;
  • what the CRT can and cannot hear;
  • when a claim under $5001 can still be heard by the Provincial Court;
  • when the CRT might refuse a claim;
  • what to do when you are not happy with a CRT decision;
  • special procedures in Vancouver and Richmond; and
  • alternatives to court.

What resources & help are there for Small Claims?

With the help of Judge Ann Rounthwaite (retired), Digital Communications Coordinator for the BC Provincial Court, we have updated Where do I start for information on Small Claims Court?

This page provides a curated collection of helpful basics for all things Small Claims.

It includes a printable PDF handout with:

  • A summary of the resources; and
  • A short bit.ly link so anyone can quickly access the full list of links.

Other Provincial Court resources

The following Common Questions have also been updated:

Access all “Where do I start…?” questions and handouts at: bit.ly/clicklawbcpc

Stay informed:

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