Sep 28, 2020

Oversight Responsibilities of the Responsible Minister

A Solicitor v. The Law Society of British Columbia, 2018 BCCA 163 (CanLII)

Government Ministers are responsible for overseeing statutory regulators. However, that responsibility does not mean that the Minister is a necessary party to any legal disputes involving the regulator: A Solicitor v. The Law Society of British Columbia, 2018 BCCA 163, http://canlii.ca/t/hrq4w.

Ms. Walker was a lawyer. She has disabilities which she indicated had profound financial consequences for her. After being given notice, her membership with the Law Society of British Columbia was terminated for non-payment of fees. Ms. Walker sought judicial review of the failure of the Law Society to give her a further extension to pay her fees. As is required, she served a copy of the notice of application for judicial review on the Attorney General of the province. The Attorney General is the Minister with general oversight for the Law Society. In fact, the Attorney General is by virtue of their office a Bencher (Board member) of the Law Society. Ms. Walker wanted to require the Attorney General to be a party to the judicial review proceeding to assist her in pursuing her application.

The Court held, in the course of a procedural motion, that the oversight duties of the Attorney General do not include an obligation to participate as a party in legal challenges against the regulator.