Canadian Lawyer

May 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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www.canadianlawyermag.com 5 the Attorney General told Canadian Lawyer, "Government has authority, through agree- ments and legislation, to recover health care costs from third parties where appropriate. This practice is not unusual and not limited to ICBC. The claim will have to be carefully reviewed and we can't comment beyond that." The two plaintiffs in the case are Brayden Methot and Robert Rorison. Methot was disabled in a car accident near Kamloops, B.C. in 2014, and Rorison has been insured through ICBC since 1973, the year ICBC was created. The two are pursuing the claim on behalf of all who bought insurance through ICBC — as B.C. drivers are required to do — and all accident victims who received accident benefits from ICBC since the corporation's inception. Their statement of claim states Rorison's insurance premiums have "increased substan- tially" since 1973, partly due to ICBC's payments to the government's Medical Services Plan. According to the plaintiffs, those payments amounted to nearly $900 million from 1988 to 2018. The plaintiffs allege the increased insurance rates amount to a tax, which — because not enacted according to ss. 53, 90 and 92(2) of the Constitution Act, 1867 — is unconstitutional. "The effect for the Government of receiving the Remittances was to raid ICBC's budget for its own benefit and, in so doing, increase ICBC's operating costs," said the statement of claim. The plaintiffs are accusing the province of negligence, misfeasance in public office, unjust enrichment, breach of trust and knowing receipt, breach of contract and duty of good faith and wilful concealment of misconduct. Responding to COVID-19 Company: Cooper Regel – a northern-focused member of Masuch Law Firm Years in the industry: Called to bar: Northwest Territories 1989, Alberta 1991, Nunavut 1999. Practice Highlights - On committee that helped negotiate $5-billion national Residential Schools Settlement - In 2010, appointed chairman of the Indigenous Rights Committee of the International Bar Association - Is a member of the Baxter National Class Action Consortium Steve Cooper Partner What is your firm doing in the wake of COVID-19? Nobody saw this coming. We were in the process of moving all of our functionality to the cloud so that already all of our email had been transferred to the cloud. We were making great strides to being entirely remote and, given another six months, we would have been there. So, what we've had to do is accelerate all of our remote comput- ing capabilities. Most importantly, we were able to very quickly set up everybody at home, the idea being that, if the office premis- es and each of the four offices that we maintain — Edmonton, Calgary, Sherwood Park and Yellowknife — had to operate from home, we can do it. At this point, we have the capacity to do that. The only . . . stumbling block for us was trying to move quickly at the same time as other firms. One of the important factors was that, all of a sudden, two things became really important to people. The first one was toilet paper and the second was outside IT consultants and all of the services and material that they provide. We were certainly fighting for attention. But we were far enough down the line that our triage — what did we need to do right now — was a lot shorter process. And our ability to manifest remote computing was enhanced by the fact that we were three quarters of the way there. One of the most important things, I don't care if the firm is big or small, is communication, ongoing communication with the staff. So, immediately, we introduced updates every day for the first few days, three times a day. You know, they were intended to be direct, light-hearted, informal. Face to face is really important. The very first thing we did in terms of updating our technology was introduce Skype for Business. Our practice in the North has always been 80-per-cent re- mote. We do almost all of our applications by telephone in Nuna- vut and almost the same amount in Northwest Territories. We're used to dealing with staff and clients remotely. So, we did have one step up on many other firms our size. We have a staff that is used to dealing remotely. So, for example, all of our corporate minute books are available through a secure platform. And that's something that we were introducing for years and we're inte- grating with our cloud-based services. It's the same as we work through real estate files; increasingly, on a secure platform, cli- ents will be able to see all of their forms remotely. And you know, we're waiting with bated breath to see what the various registries do with respect to signatures. We are definitely balancing the natural caution and tradition upon which law is based and lawyers operate with the new world. "The provincial government — for decades — has been using ICBC to collect or visit illegal tax on the ratepayers of British Columbia." Scott Stanley, Murphy Battista LLP Q&A

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