The Law Society recently provided input to the federal government in response to consultations related to our justice system, on issues which intersect with the Law Society's responsibilities as a public interest regulator - to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, and to protect the public interest.
Options for the development of a regulator of intellectual property agents
At the invitation of Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada, the Law Society submitted comments on options for the development of a regulator of intellectual property (IP) agents.
The submission focused on two points:
- There is a need to avoid dual regulation, particularly with respect to IP Agent lawyers who are already regulated by law societies. It would not be in the public interest to have IP lawyer agents and the entities in which they work regulated by both law societies and a separate IP Agent regulator.
- The Law Society raised concerns with the proposed governance models for IP Agents, as none of the proposed models adequately addressed concerns about dual regulation or the protection of solicitor-client privilege, and these models raised concerns about regulatory expertise and costs.
We invited further consideration of alternative regulatory options, including the possibility of administratively delegating certain federal powers relating to the regulation of IP Agents to existing law societies. We stressed the need for close coordination and invited the federal government to discuss these issues with us further. The Law Society also supported a submission by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada with respect to these issues.
LSUC submission to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (PDF)
Federal government's Superior Court judicial appointments processes
At the invitation of the Department of Justice, the Law Society presented a submission with respect to superior court judicial appointments processes. The Law Society submission noted the vital importance of the appointment process, and stressed that the judicial appointments process must be insulated from politicization to the greatest extent possible. The Law Society recommended that independent federal Judicial Advisory Committees lie at the heart of the federal judicial appointments process.
The Law Society encouraged the federal government to base its new processes on Ontario's judicial appointments processes, which enshrine independent judicial appointment committees in legislation, expressly recognizes the need to reflect the diversity of society in judicial appointment, and depoliticizes the judicial appointment process. The Law Society also recommended that the government commit to filling judicial vacancies within prescribed time periods. Once again, the Law Society supported a submission by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada with respect to these issues.
LSUC submission to the Department of Justice Consultation on Superior Court Judicial Appointments Processes (PDF)
Federal judicial discipline processes
The Law Society actively engaged with the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, and endorsed the filing of a submission on behalf of all law societies in response to the Department of Justice's Consultation Regarding Possibilities for Further Reform of the Federal Judicial Discipline Process. Canada's law societies collectively recommended significant reforms to the judicial discipline process which would further public confidence in our legal system in a manner that balances judicial independence and the need for the judiciary to be held accountable.
The Federation submission makes several recommendations, including:
- That lay persons should be involved in all stages of the judicial discipline process
- That the role of independent counsel should be defined, and enshrined in legislation; and
- That the government should continue its current practice of paying a judge's legal fees throughout the discipline process, including at the judicial review stage, unless the application for judicial review is ultimately found to be frivolous or vexatious.
FLSC submission to the Department of Justice Consultation on Judicial Discipline Reform (PDF)