A legal challenge to the Law Society of Upper Canada’s (LSUC) decision not to accredit a controversial proposed law school has a tentative court date.
Trinity Western University and Brayden Volkenant v. Law Society of Upper Canada is set to be heard Dec. 15-19 in Divisional Court at Osgoode Hall, Toronto.
The application was filed just weeks after LSUC voting benchers decided not to accredit a planned evangelical law school. The Notice to Public – TWU’s Judicial Review Application is available at the Law Society‘s website.
- A declaration that the decision was unauthorized and invalid
- A mandamus order, approving accreditation
- In the alternative, a mandamus order for reconsideration and approval
- Costs of the application
Trinity Western is a Langley, B.C. faith-based post-secondary school “with an underlying philosophy and viewpoint that is Christian,” according to the application. Trinity has its students sign a “community covenant” related to sexual and other behaviour. Graduates have vowed to endorse strict interpretations of marriage and permissible sexual expression.
Trinity plans to open a law school in 2016. The named applicant, Braydon, is a TWU business grad who wants to attend the proposed law school.
Legal Challenges Over Competing Rights
The school’s community covenant is being challenged in court cases across the country, as law societies decide whether to accredit the school’s graduates to practice law or article in their provinces. TWU is challenging decisions made by the LSUC and the Nova Scotia Barrister Society, not to accredit the school if the covenant stands.
In late June, the Law Society of New Brunswick (LSNB) voted to accredit TWU. The LSUC voted 28–21 against accrediting TWU School of Law graduates to article or practise in Ontario, after a remarkable two-day debate.
Alberta, Saskatchewan, P.E.I., and Nunavut law societies have voted in favour of accreditation. Newfoundland and Labrador, and Manitoba, have chosen to defer the issue.
Law Society Says Yes – Lawyers Say No
The B.C. Law Society voted in favour of accreditation, but a large majority of lawyers in the province voted in June to rescind that decision. The resolution directing that “Trinity Western University is not an approved faculty of law” is symbolic and does not reverse the law society’s decision.
On April 14, a petitioner represented by Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby (an ex-officio LSUC bencher) commenced a lawsuit against the B.C. Education Ministry, to challenge the B.C. government’s approval.
Past LSUC Treasurer Tom Conway told SCOPE in June that he expects the TWU issue will ultimately be decided at the Supreme Court of Canada.
Faith-based Law School Accredited in N.B.
B.C. Lawyers Refuse to Approve TWU – SCOPE coverage
LSUC’s TWU page
LSBC information on the TWU issue
“Six Little Words” – LSUC April 24 debate, vote
April 10 coverage at SCOPE Magazine