The Attorney General Statutes Amendment Act, 2018, was introduced in the legislative assembly on Nov. 19, 2018.
If approved by the legislature, the amendments will affect the following provincial statutes:
Civil Resolution Tribunal Act
Starting in April 2019, the act will give the Civil Resolution Tribunal jurisdiction over motor vehicle accident disputes up to $50,000.
The act also grants the tribunal exclusive jurisdiction to determine whether a person injured in a motor vehicle accident has suffered a minor injury. Minor injuries have a limit on damages for pain and suffering.
These amendments are intended to make the act as clear as possible. They further clarify provisions of Bill 22 passed in spring 2018 to improve dispute resolution services for British Columbians and close potential gaps. None of these amendments change the underlying policy that was contained in Bill 22, which passed unanimously in the legislature in spring 2018.
Class Proceedings Act
Amendments to the Class Proceedings Act will change the way that money from class-action proceeding awards is handled when it cannot be distributed to class members. The legislation will require at least 50% of undistributed awards and settlement funds to be disbursed to the Law Foundation of British Columbia. These funds will be used by the foundation to facilitate access to justice, which is a core principle of class proceedings. The court will have discretion over how to disperse the remaining funds.
Class actions addressing harms suffered primarily by Indigenous peoples are exempt from these rules, leaving wide discretion for the courts to select appropriate recipients of undistributed funds in these cases.
Gaming Control Act
Amendments to the Gaming Control Act will help create a stronger, more independent gambling regulator to better protect against organized crime using B.C. casinos to launder money.
The proposed amendments will empower the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) to independently issue directives to the B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC) without ministerial approval, which allows the regulator to be more responsive in its role to protect the integrity of gambling in the province. The changes are intended to keep people who may have ties to organized crime out of casinos by giving GPEB the authority to ban them and will give new enforcement tools to GPEB to ensure compliance with reporting requirements for all industry participants, including BCLC.
Legal Profession Act
Amendments to the Legal Profession Act will expand the types of professionals able to provide legal services to the public to include licensed paralegals, who will be permitted to provide a limited scope of services. The amendments will provide authority for the Law Society of British Columbia to make rules establishing the scope of practice for licensed paralegals or classes of licensed paralegals. Licensed paralegals will be governed by the general framework of the Legal Profession Act, and will be regulated by the Law Society of B.C.
The amendments will also clarify the rules governing the insurance program that the Law Society of B.C. provides to its members. Both amendments have been requested by the Benchers of the Law Society of British Columbia on behalf of the Law Society of B.C.’s membership.