The Supreme Court of Canada decided last week in the case of Attorney General of Canada v. Federation of Law Societies of Canada 2015 SCC 7, that the government should not interfere with a lawyer’s commitment to his or her client’s cause. In doing so, the court held that commitment to the client’s cause, was fundamental to the solicitor-client relationship. Lawyers across the country welcomed the decision as a victory for the public and in providing clarity to how the legal profession should deal with its clients.
The case involved an act cumbersomely entitled “Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act” (“Money Laundering Act”). Parts of the Money Laundering Act and certain regulations under the Money Laundering Act sought to require lawyers and law firms to collect confidential information about their clients that could be subject to search and seizure by the government. Alarmed by the prospect, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada sought to a declaration from the court that such legislation was unconstitutional. Several lawyers’ associations including The Advocates’ Society, the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association intervened in the case.