Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia

Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia

April 15, 2013 17:51 ET

BC's Tax on Legal Services Remains a Target for Proponents of Legal Aid

Legal Aid Lawyers/Supporters on Hand April 16 at "2013 Vancouver Law Week Open House"

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - April 15, 2013) - Advocates calling for better provision of legal aid in British Columbia will be taking part at a public event in downtown Vancouver on Tuesday, April 16. The format of the event will be an open house from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at UBC Robson Square (800 Robson Street).

Lawyers from the Trial Lawyers Association of BC's Legal Aid Action Committee are volunteering their time to help raise awareness about the need for far greater funding of legal aid. Counsel from across the province - particularly those involved in family law, criminal cases and immigration matters - continue to call on the BC Government to increase funding for legal aid, and expand the severely limited degree of services for citizens requiring legal assistance.

Citizens should not be facing a closed door when it comes to the justice system.

"The lack of legal aid available in BC has left far too many individual citizens stumbling through the courts without a legal representative," asserted TLABC president Dennis Hori.

A provincial tax on legal services continues to generate more than $140 million annually for the BC Government (since taking effect in the early 1990s), yet the legal aid system (funded at less than half of what the provincial tax takes in) lacks the level of support necessary to take care of many of society's most vulnerable citizens. Many people do not receive legal assistance, regardless of how badly they need it. The lack of representation causes a serious slow-down effect on the administration of justice, causing matters to take longer and cost taxpayers more.

It's now been more than two years since the final report from a province-wide Public Commission on Legal Aid was released (March 2011). Its commissioner, Leonard Doust QC, indicated that BC is seriously lagging behind other jurisdictions. He concluded: "We can no longer avoid the fact that we are failing the most disadvantaged members of our community."

Previous awareness efforts saw duty counsel conduct an escalating series of withdrawals, last year, followed by widespread refusals to accept certain types of cases on the legal aid system (which is administered by the Legal Services Society of BC).

Legal aid is one of six important areas referenced in "The Public Matters" - a pre-election questionnaire TLABC issued this week to political parties, to coincide with the start of the election period.

Contact Information

  • Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia
    Bentley Doyle
    604-682-5343 / 1-888-558-5222
    bentley@tlabc.org