Report from the Chair

  • April 02, 2015

It is hard to believe that my year as NEERLS Chair is already more than half over! On March 5, 2015 the Executive of NEERLS held its annual business meeting in Calgary, followed by the NEERLS Annual Law Summit. This year for the first time the conference was presented in partnership with the Canadian Institute of Resources Law and their annual Symposium. The theme was Environment in the Courtroom.

The Executive covered a number of important issues during the business meeting. Among the topics discussed were the commencement of planning for 2015 and 2016 CPD events, including future webinars, the 2015 DOJ day in Ottawa in October and our 2016 Annual Law Summit, which we currently anticipate will be held in the Maritimes in the late spring. Please stay tuned for more information on these exciting developments.

Another important part of the Section’s annual business meeting is the reports from the Branch Chairs of the various provinces and territories. Thank you to all the Branch Chairs who attended and provided the Executive with brief updates on branch activities and legal developments in their jurisdictions.

The NEERLS Executive also discussed the ongoing CBA review of its intervention policy, and after extensive discussion passed the following resolution unanimously:

Be it resolved that:

  1. It is the view of NEERLS that the CBA Intervention Policy itself is not the real issue, but that the real issue was the application of the policy in the Chevron intervention.
  2. The most serious problem was that sections directly affected were not consulted, contrary to the existing policy.
  3. All sections should be consulted on all interventions.
  4. NEERLS suggests that the CBA Board should give deference to the deliberations of the Legislation and Law Reform Committee where possible. If the CBA Board disagrees with recommendations of the Legislation and Law Reform Committee, the Board should engage in dialogue with the Legislation and Law Reform Committee and direct broader consultation where necessary rather than merely substituting its own decision for the Legislation and Law Reform Committee’s recommendation.

For a copy of the resolution and NEERLS’ submission to the review committee, please contact

The NEERLS Executive also discussed the CBA Law Office Sustainability Challenge, which has now been fully rolled out and is accessible on the CBA website. A variety of valuable tools are available to law firms and practitioners to help “green” their practice. We will keep you posted on further developments in connection with this initiative as well.

With respect to planning for the rest of 2015 and into 2016, Vice-Chair Michael Simms discussed several important priorities including the recruitment of students and academics, continuing to develop our relationship with the American Bar Association’s equivalent section “SEER”, and further developing and improving our methods of communication with our Section members. It is clear that Michael has already spent a lot of time thinking about this, and the Section will be in extremely good hands when he takes over in September as Chair.

Following the business meeting, we held our annual two-day Summit which, as noted, focused on Environment in the Courtroom. This was an excellent program with a variety of interesting speakers covering a range of litigation and evidentiary related topics. Of tremendous benefit to our members, not only was attendance by the 170 in-person registrants at no charge, thanks to a generous grant from Environment Canada, but the proceedings were also live-streamed on the Internet. The webcast and papers prepared in support of this Symposium will soon be available for download at no charge on CIRL’s website (under the “Symposium” tab).

My thanks and congratulations to all of the summit/symposium organizers, from both the CBA and CIRL. It was quite simply an excellent experience for all attendees, either in person or online, and provided a high quality professional educational opportunity for all attendees.

I would like to thank the superb CBA staff and Section volunteers who make the running of the Section so much easier. It is no exaggeration to say that the Section could not run without them. Last but certainly not least, I would like to extend my thanks to you, the Section members, for your interest and participation in NEERLS’ endeavours and your support of the Section generally. We look forward to continuing to work with you in the months and years ahead, and to seeing you at these upcoming NEERLS events in the near future

About the Author

Stuart Chambers is a partner with McLennan Ross LLP in Edmonton.