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Students can still appear in summary conviction matters after B.C. amends law

Tuesday, September 24, 2019 @ 8:55 AM | By Ian Burns

B.C. has followed in Ontario’s footsteps to ensure students will continue to be able to act on summary conviction matters.

An order-in-council by the provincial lieutenant-governor, which came into effect Sept. 19, allows articling students, temporary articling students and students who are participating in law clinics and programs to appear as agents under s. 802.1(c) of the Criminal Code.

The order was made necessary due to recent changes to the Code by Bill C-75, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts. The new provision permits agents such as students to appear where an accused is liable for imprisonment for a term of six months or less, unless the agent is authorized to do so under a program approved by the lieutenant-governor-in-council of the province.

The Law Society of Ontario made similar changes at its most recent convocation, but David Jordan, communications officer with the Law Society of British Columbia (LSBC), said the process there utilized a different approach. He noted Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General issued an order-in-council to designate authority of the Law Society to determine “who has the ability in summary conviction court as a regulated agent.”

“[The B.C.order] maintains the state of affairs that existed prior to the recent amendments to the Criminal Code that resulted from Bill C-75, so it adequately responds to the concerns of the Law Society of B.C.,” he said.

Jordan noted the order will not require any changes to law society rules.