August 24, 2006 Edmonton AB
A national conference bringing senior Canadian law and policy makers together to harmonize federal, provincial and territorial laws, wrapped up today. The annual Uniform Law Conference of Canada ran August 20-24 in Edmonton, Alberta.
"A justice system that works more uniformly across jurisdictions and boundaries isn't simply a more efficient system, it is a better system," said Alberta's Justice Minister and Attorney General Ron Stevens in an address to the conference. "The good work done over the past five days continues the conference's tradition of effectiveness and will benefit Canadians across the country."
The Conference sits in two sections, criminal and civil. The Criminal Section assembles prosecutors from federal, provincial and territorial governments with defence counsel and judges to consider amendments to the Criminal Code and related statutes. The Civil Section assembles government policy lawyers, private lawyers and law reformers to consider areas in which federal, provincial and territorial laws would benefit from harmonization. A key area of their work is the Commercial Law Strategy, the goal of which is to modernize and harmonize Canada's commercial laws.
On the civil side the delegates proposed amendments to the Uniform Class Proceedings Act that will improve the court processes for multi-jurisdictional class action lawsuits. The amendments also provide principles for the resolution of conflicts between potentially competing class actions. In addition, the Uniform Assignment of Receivables in International Trade Act is now expected to be adopted by the end of this year.
On the criminal side, the Conference considered 28 resolutions recommending amendments to the Criminal Code and related statutes, and two discussion papers - one on strangulation and the other on the hybridization of crimes and offences. A report from the Working Group on Strangulation will be forwarded to the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Heads of Prosecutions for consideration of its recommendation for additional prosecutorial education and training. Strangulation is a life-threatening form of assault often found in family violence cases. The working group was concerned whether the criminal law needed amending to address it.
The Conference also saw working groups established on several important new projects, including the Law of Partnerships and Fraudulent Conveyances and Preferences. It also approved continuation of its current work relating to income trusts, the UN Convention on Independent Guarantees and Stand-by Letters of Credit; limitation periods and other issues respecting insurance statutes; and the Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to Securities. The criminal and civil sections will also continue work on the Collateral Use of Crown Brief Disclosure.
Many of the Conference's uniform acts and recommendations for criminal law reform have been adopted into legislation.
"Thanks to all the delegates who travelled to Alberta to attend this year's conference, and a special thanks to the organizers and volunteers whose efforts were indispensable to making this year's Uniform Law Conference of Canada a success," said Stevens. "Alberta's commitment to improving Albertans' access to the justice system continues to benefit from the work of the Conference."
The Uniform Law Conference is a volunteer organization consisting of commissioners from all areas of the legal community including private and corporate practice, criminal defence, academia, government and the judiciary. Approximately 100 commissioners attended this year's conference.