The Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to appeal in two decisions this week of interest to Canadian businesses and professions.
Attorney General of Canada v. Federation of Law Societies of Canada is an appeal from the BC Court of Appeal’s decision upholding the trial court’s decision which declared provisions of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, S.C. 2000, c. 17 and accompanying Regulation SOR/202-184 unconstitutional and of no force and effect to the extent that the impugned phrase “persons and entities” includes legal counsel and law firms. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether it is constitutionally permissible to impose obligations of the Act and Regulations on Canadian lawyers, notaries and law firms and whether independence of the Bar is a principle of fundamental justice under s. 7 of the Charter (and if so, the scope of the principle).
The Supreme Court also granted leave to appeal in David M. Potter v. New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission, a complex employment law matter. The Applicant was appointed as the Executive Director of New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council of New Brunswick. He was ultimately suspended with pay for an indefinite period by the Board of the Commission. The Applicant sued, claiming constructive dismissal; the Commission took the position that by commencing the claim, the Applicant had effectively resigned his position and therefore stopped his salary and benefits.
The trial judge held that the suspension did not constitute constructive dismissal and that the commencement of litigation in the absence of constructive dismissal constituted repudiation of the employment contract. The New Brunswick Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The Supreme Court will hear arguments with respect to both these issues, and whether the power to suspend a statutory public office holder granted to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council can be exercised by another statutory body.