February 26, 2021
Use of Video Conferencing for Land Titles and PPR Documents
On February 24, 2021, the Alberta government issued a series of new Orders in Council 061/2021, 062/2021, 063/2021, 064/2021 and 065/2021. The effect of these Orders is to permit the continued use of video conferencing for the witnessing and commissioning of prescribed documents under the Builder’s Lien Act, the Citizenship Act (Canada): Agricultural and Recreational Land Ownership Act, Dower Act, Land Titles Act and Personal Property Security Act. The ability to use video conferencing will continue for an indefinite period, beyond the former expiry date of February 28, 2021.

The new Orders amend the wording found in the earlier Orders in Council 211/2020, 212/2020, 213/2020, 214/2020 and 215/2020. In addition, the Order in Council 065/2021 has the effect of repealing the former AR 95/2001, passed under the Personal Property Security Act.

Department of Justice Canada News Release

On Feb. 24, 2021, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, introduced an Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Identification of Criminals Act and to make related amendments to other Acts (COVID-19 response and other measures). The legislation was informed by discussions with provincial and territorial counterparts, and would help address challenges faced throughout the criminal justice system caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has revealed the need for changes to help modernize our criminal justice system now and for the future.

The Bill proposes a number of targeted and permanent changes to the Criminal Code that would give courts flexibility in how they hold criminal proceedings and issue orders. These changes would not compromise public safety, or participants’ rights and freedoms, and would support greater access to justice both during the pandemic and moving forward. More specifically, the Bill would make changes in the following areas:

  • remote appearances for accused individuals: clarify the law by providing a mechanism to allow accused persons to appear remotely by videoconference or audioconference in most criminal proceedings, with consent, at the discretion of the court and with other appropriate safeguards
  • remote participation for jury selection proceedings: allow videoconference participation by jury candidates in the jury selection process under certain circumstances, with the consent of the parties, at the discretion of the court and with other appropriate safeguards
  • use of technology for jury selection: allow for the enhanced use of technology to draw the names of jury candidates in the jury selection process
  • judicial case management for unrepresented individuals: allow judicial case management rules to be developed to support unrepresented accused individuals, as opposed to only represented accused individuals
  • telewarrant process: revise the existing telewarrant process to allow peace officers to remotely apply for a wider range of investigative orders
  • fingerprinting process: allow fingerprinting of accused persons under the Identification of Criminals Act to occur at a later date, particularly where previous attempts at fingerprinting were not possible due to exceptional circumstances, such as those posed by COVID-19

The Bill would also make eight minor technical changes to the Criminal Code and the Identification of Criminals Act that were identified during the implementation of former Bill C-75 (delays in the criminal justice system, 2019).

If you have questions or would like to discuss further, you can email Lisa Jørgensen, Policy Advisor - Criminal Law, Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
Code of Conduct: Guidance on Ethical and Practice Management Issues
Balancing a busy practice with the need to keep abreast of developments in the regulation of the profession can be challenging. In delivering legal services in Alberta, lawyers have to be aware of and comply with the Legal Profession Act, the Code of Conduct, and the Rules of the Law Society of Alberta. Jurisprudence establishes additional obligations and requirements. In addition, the Code of Conduct is not a complete Code. Its preface states: “[T]he rules and regulations of the Law Society cannot exhaustively cover all situations that may confront a lawyer, who may find it necessary to consider legislation relating to lawyers, other legislation or general moral principles in determining an appropriate course of action.”

This article provides guidance on some issues which practice advisors are currently seeing with regular frequency.

Originally published in the Canadian Bar Association - Alberta Branch, Law Matters on Feb. 19, 2021
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