Civil and Family Law Policy Office
The Ministry of Attorney General’s civil and family law policy office is requesting feedback on several potential areas of law reform. The public and legal community are invited to review the ministry website at: www.ag.gov.bc.ca/legislation/index.htm, which contains links to reports and discussion papers relating to the following consultations:
In 2004, the British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI) issued a report entitled, “A Modern Trustee Act for British Columbia.” The report represents the work of representatives of the practicing Bar, organizations in the trust industry and financial sector, as well as the legal academic community. The ministry is reviewing the report and BCLI recommendations and invites comments on the report by March 1, 2007.
Wills, Estates, And Succession Law
In 2006, the BCLI issued a report entitled, “Wills, Estates and Succession: A Modern Legal Framework.” This report was developed with the aid of volunteers from the practising wills and estates Bar, the Society of Notaries Public of British Columbia and legal academics with expertise in succession law. The ministry also invites comments on this report by March 1, 2007.
The ministry has prepared a green paper, at the above-noted website, on possible reforms to the Limitation Act to address the following concerns:
- the Limitation Act is over 30 years old and has not been comprehensively reviewed since its introduction;
- other provinces, such as Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario, have recently modernized their limitations laws;
- the Uniform Law Conference of Canada has put forward a model limitations statute as a framework to harmonize limitations law across the country;
- the B.C. Law Reform Commission and the BCLI recommended reform of the Limitation Act in 1990 and in 2002;
- individuals and organizations have been petitioning the province for change.
Family Relations Act
Last February 1, the ministry announced the start of a multi-year review of the Family Relations Act. The goal of this comprehensive review is to modernize the law and support co-operative approaches to resolving disputes, in a statute that is easy to read and understand.
The first year of the review has been devoted to research. The review moves into the consultation stage in 2007. The ministry will be posting discussion papers on the above-noted website in three phases – winter, spring and fall:
- Winter – division of property, division of pension entitlement and judicial separation.
- Spring – parenting after separation (including issues relating to custody, access, guardianship, access enforcement and family violence) and children’s participation (voice of child).
- Fall – legal parentage, support, co-operative approaches and other issues not included in first two phases.
In addition to the web-based consultation, Nancy Cameron, QC, has been engaged to facilitate consultation meetings with various groups, including the Canadian Bar Association British Columbia family law and alternative dispute resolution subsections.
Feedback on all of these consultations will be considered as the ministry develops potential options for legislative changes to these Acts. If you have questions about any of these initiatives, contact the civil and family law policy office by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 250-387-4576.
This article was published in the February 2007 issue of BarTalk. © 2007 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.