The Federation of Law Societies was largely successful in its constitutional challenge to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, as issued by oral judgement of the Supreme Court of Canada this morning.
On appeal from a B.C. Supreme Court trial decision, our highest Court stated that solicitor-client privilege, as a constitutional norm, was breached by the offending legislation as it relates to lawyers and their clients. The offending legislation infringed Section 7 of our Constitution: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”
Five of our SCC judge went so far as to state “The lawyer’s duty of commitment to the client’s cause is essential to maintaining confidence in the integrity of the administration of justice.” The remaining two judges (including our Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin) agreed with the ruling, but stated that the “lawyer’s commitment does not provide a workable constitutional standard because it will vary with the nature of the retainer and other circumstances.”
To read the decision in its entirety, click on…