Organization of the Month | January 2017
by Kathleen Cunningham
BC Law Institute Turns 20
The BC Law Institute (BCLI) is British Columbia’s only independent, non-partisan law reform body. It includes the Canadian Centre for Elder Law.
Over the past 20 years BCLI has produced over 60 reports, study papers and resources. Our reports include detailed analyses of the evolution of a particular law, consider the policy issues and recommend reforms to improve the law and/or make it more relevant in today’s society. Our study papers examine legal issues and often identify areas of the law that might be the subject of a future project.
What’s happening in 2017
In 2017 we have a number of ambitious and interesting projects on the go – we continue our projects to address issues in BC’s strata property law, reform the Employment Standards Act and reform the Builders Lien Act. We are also working on a study paper on the options available for financing litigation when individuals must go to court to protect their rights. Finally, we are in the final stages of a project of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada which will propose a Uniform Vital Statistics Act that could be adopted in all provinces and territories to modernize and help ensure better consistency across the country in how vital events are recorded.
Celebrating 20 Years: Thank You.
We could not do the work we do without the support of hundreds of committee volunteers (over 370) and dozens of funders. In January 2017, the BC Law Institute turned 20. We kicked off a year of celebration with an event in Victoria to both celebrate our achievements, but to also thank the many funders, supporters and committee volunteers who make it possible for our small team to do the work it does.
Guests were the first to see our 20th Anniversary video “Tending to our Laws” which is now available on our website on this web page. Thank you to our core funders – the Law Foundation of BC and the BC Ministry of Justice, all of our project funders, and to the sponsors of our 20th anniversary events – Gold Sponsor: Lawson Lundell; Silver Sponsors: BC Ministry of Justice, Spraggs & Co, Solvere; and Bronze Sponsor: Ramsay Lampman and Rhodes. Your support makes our work possible.
Q&A with the ED
Kathleen Cunningham is the Executive Director of the BC Law Institute. BCLI is one of our top contributors to the Reform & Research section of Clicklaw, which serves as a public window to legal reform and innovations in BC. Here is a short Q&A we did to help you better understand what BCLI does:
I imagine some of our readership might be unfamiliar with BCLI. Could you tell me more about what you do? The laws that govern our lives are established in legislation and through the courts over time. The BCLI identifies laws that are outdated or need to be improved in order to better serve British Columbians.
The resources we produce assist lawyers and other professionals. They range from questions and answers on pension division on the breakdown of a relationship to understanding and addressing undue influence on a client who is making a will or a power of attorney. Many resources are designed to help health care professionals, seniors serving groups, and seniors themselves to understand elder abuse and how to prevent it, and respond when it occurs.
How is BCLI a unique organization? We’re BC’s only independent, non-partisan law reform body. We look to find the laws that are not working for people, and when we identify an area of the law that needs reform, we make sure government and other stakeholders are also interested in seeing work to identify how to improve this area of the law.
How do you identify these areas of need, the laws that “aren’t working”? We invite people to send ideas to us through email, and lawyers that know about us will bring ideas to us; we’ve had a number of projects brought to us this way – our Strata Property law reform project was brought to us by the Notaries of BC, we have an Employment Standards Act project that was brought to us by a lawyer who works in that area, so it can vary. We also monitor what’s being said: what are the courts talking about? What are the commentators discussing when court decisions come out?