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[RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 256
[Updated to October 31, 1997]
LEGAL SERVICES SOCIETY ACT
Table of Contents......
Powers and capacity........
Board of directors.......
Limit on expenditures
Company Act and
Society Act not to apply.............
Society to supply
1 In this Act:
"board" means the board of directors of the society;
"funded agency" means a person who receives money from the society to provide legal services but does not include a practicing lawyer or notary public;
"law society" means the Law Society of British Columbia;
"lawyer" means a person entitled to practice under the Legal Profession Act;
"legal aid" means services and information provided under this Act;
"society" means the Legal Services Society continued by this Act.
2 (1) The corporation called Legal Services Society is continued.
(2) The members of the society are the directors appointed under section 5.
(3) The society must be operated without purpose of gain for its members, and any right or other accretions to the society must be used for promoting its objects.
3 (1) The objects of the society are to ensure that
(a) services ordinarily provided by a lawyer are afforded to individuals who would not otherwise receive them because of financial or other reasons, and
(b) education, advice and information about law are provided for the people of British Columbia.
(2) The society must ensure, for the purposes of subsection (1) (a), that legal services are available for a qualifying individual who meets one or more of the following conditions:
(a) is a defendant in criminal proceedings that could lead to the individual's imprisonment;
(b) may be imprisoned or confined through civil proceedings;
(c) is or may be a party to a proceeding respecting a domestic dispute that affects the individual's physical or mental safety or health or that of the individual's children;
(d) has a legal problem that threatens
(i) the individual's family's physical or mental safety or health,
(ii) the individual's ability to feed, clothe and provide shelter for himself or herself and the individual's dependents, or
(iii) the individual's livelihood.
4 (1) For the purposes of this Act, the society has all the powers and capacity of a natural person.
(2) The society is not an agent of the government or of the law society.
5 (1) The board consists of 15 directors.
(2) Five directors, at least 2 of whom must not be lawyers, are to be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Attorney General.
(3) Five directors are to be appointed by the benchers of the law society after consultation with the executive of the British Columbia branch of the Canadian Bar Association.
(4) Two directors are to be appointed by the board of directors of the Native Community Law Office Association of British Columbia.
(5) Two directors are to be appointed by the board of directors of the Association of Community Law Offices of British Columbia.
(6) One director is to be appointed
(a) jointly by the directors appointed under subsections (4) and (5), or
(b) if the directors appointed under subsections (4) and (5) have not appointed a director under paragraph (a) of this subsection within 60 days after the date on which the last of those 4 directors was appointed, by the Attorney General.
(7) The term of office of a director must be not longer than 3 years from the date on which the appointment becomes effective.
(8) A director must not hold office for more than 6 consecutive years.
(9) Despite anything else in this section, a director whose term of office has expired may continue to hold office until a successor is appointed.
(10) If a vacancy on the board exists for any other reason, the person or body who appointed the director to be replaced must appoint a successor, and the person so appointed may hold office for the remainder of the term for which the predecessor was appointed.
(11) The board must control and direct the business of the society and may, by resolution, determine its own procedure.
(12) A director must be reimbursed for reasonable out of pocket travelling and other expenses incurred in the discharge of duties and may be paid a fee for services.
6 (1) By resolution at its first meeting in each fiscal year the executive committee must appoint an executive committee of not more than 5 directors, and may reconstitute the committee.
(2) Between the meetings of the board, the executive committee has all the powers of the board except
(a) the power to fill vacancies on or change the membership of a committee of the board, and
(b) powers excluded by resolution of the board.
7 (1) The board may appoint an executive director and must set the salary of the executive director.
(2) The executive director must supervise, manage and administer the business of the society in accordance with the policy of the board and subject to its control and direction.
8 (1) The board or, if authorized by the board, the executive director, may appoint officers and employees and engage and retain specialists and consultants required to carry out the business of the society and may determine their
remuneration and benefits.
(2) The Public Service Act and the Public Service Labour Relations Act do not apply to the society or its officers and employees appointed under this section.
(3) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may, by order, direct that some or all of the provisions of the Pension (Municipal) Act apply to some or all of the officers and employees of the society or of any funded agency designated by the society for the purposes of this section and the provisions of that Act apply.
(4) For the benefit of its officers and employees and their dependents, the society may establish, support or participate in any one or more of
(a) a pension or superannuation plan, or
(b) a group insurance plan.
9 Despite the Legal Profession Act, the society or a funded agency may employ, with or without remuneration, an individual who is not a lawyer or an articled student to provide services that would ordinarily be provided by a lawyer so long as the individual is supervised by a lawyer, but the individual may not appear as counsel in a court except with leave of the court.
10 The society has authority to determine the priorities and criteria for the services it or a funded agency provides under this Act.
11 (1) In this section, "revenue" means, for a fiscal year of the society, the revenue of the society from all sources for that year, including, without limitation, all grants made or to be made to the society for that year by the government or any other person or agency.
(2) The aggregate of the expenditures made by the society in a fiscal year and the liabilities incurred by the society that might reasonably come due in the fiscal year must not exceed the society's revenue for that fiscal year.
(3) Despite subsection (2), the society may make an expenditure or incur a liability that would have the effect of placing the society in contravention of that subsection if the expenditure or liability is first approved by the
Attorney General and the Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations.
12 (1) Information disclosed by a client or an applicant for legal services to a director, employee or agent of the society or funded agency is privileged and must be kept confidential in the same manner and to the same extent as if it had
been disclosed to a solicitor under a solicitor and client relationship.
(2) If a civil or criminal proceeding is or may be brought against a person respecting the person's eligibility for legal services, subsection (1) does not apply to information respecting eligibility.
13 (1) The court may award costs to an individual in a proceeding in which the individual has received legal services from the society or a funded agency even though the individual has not paid and will not be liable to pay counsel.
(2) If costs are awarded under subsection (1) those costs are assigned to the society and recoverable by it.
14 (1) The Company Act and the Society Act do not apply to the society.
(2) Despite subsection (1), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may order that one or more provisions of the Company Act apply to the society.
15 The Auditor General or a person designated by the Auditor General must, at least once in each fiscal year, audit the books, accounts and financial affairs of the society.
16 The society must submit to the Attorney General, in the format and within the time required by the Attorney General, any financial, statistical or other information that the Attorney General may require respecting the operations of the society and the services provided by it.
17 The society must, in respect of each fiscal year ending March 31, prepare a report respecting the operation of the society and an audited financial statement and must, within 180 days after the end of the fiscal year, forward the report and financial statement to the Attorney General, who must as soon as practicable lay them before the Legislative Assembly.
18 A person who by false representation of a material fact obtains a service under this Act that is ordinarily provided by a lawyer commits an offence and is liable to the fine specified in section 4 of the Offence Act.
19 (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may appoint an official trustee to manage the property and conduct the affairs of the society if, in the opinion of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, the appointment is in the public interest
and is required to ensure continued and effective delivery of legal aid.
(2) When an official trustee is appointed under subsection (1), the directors of the society cease to hold office.
(3) An official trustee appointed under subsection (1) has the exclusive right to exercise all of the powers of the society and the board, and must, subject to section 11,
(a) work towards eliminating, within a reasonable time, all debt of the society except current debt as determined in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles,
(b) ensure compliance of the society with this Act and the regulations, and
(c) ensure proper performance of the duties of the society.
(4) Subject to subsections (5) to (8), an official trustee's appointment under this section must be for a term that expires not more than 12 months after the date of appointment.
(5) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may, on application by the official trustee appointed under this section,
(a) remove the official trustee from office before the end of the official trustee's term of office if the Lieutenant Governor in Council and the official trustee are satisfied that the matters in response to which the official trustee
was appointed have been substantially corrected, or
(b) extend the term of the official trustee by not more than 12 months if the Lieutenant Governor in Council and the official trustee are satisfied that that extension
(i) is in the public interest,
(ii) is required to ensure continued and effective delivery of legal aid, and
(iii) is required to provide a sufficient opportunity to the official trustee to meet the goals set out in subsection (3).
(6) If an official trustee's term of office has expired, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may appoint a successor for the official trustee, for a term that expires not more than 12 months after the date of appointment, if the Lieutenant Governor in Council is satisfied that the appointment
(a) is in the public interest,
(b) is required to ensure continued and effective delivery of legal aid, and
(c) is required to allow the society to realize the goals set out in subsection (3).
(7) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may remove or replace an official trustee before the end of the official trustee's term if the Lieutenant Governor in Council is of the opinion that the official trustee is acting in a manner that is inconsistent with his or her responsibilities under subsection (3).
(8) A replacement official trustee appointed under subsection (7) holds office for the unexpired portion of the term of the official trustee being replaced unless the Lieutenant Governor in Council orders otherwise.
(9) Directors are to be appointed under section 5 to assume office when the society ceases to be subject to the direction of an official trustee.
(10) An official trustee appointed under this section is to be remunerated out of the funds of the society or otherwise as the Lieutenant Governor in Council determines.
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