TWU Plans SCC Judicial Review


A Langley, B.C.-based evangelical school plans to take its challenge of decisions by law societies in Ontario and Nova Scotia to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Trinity Western University (TWU) President Bob Kuhn says the school has retained the law firm of Bennett Jones to commence a judicial review of the decisions of the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) and the Nova Scotia Barristers Society.

Legal proceedings are to start within a month, according to a TWU news release.

On April 24, the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) voted 28–21 against accrediting TWU School of Law graduates to article or practise in Ontario.

On April 25, the Nova Scotia Barristers Society (NSBS) voted 10–9 to conditionally approve the TWU School of Law — if the school changed the wording of its “community covenant” to remove language about marriage being “between a man and a woman.” Under the covenant, students are to report themselves and others who do not abstain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage.”

The Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador will vote June 6 on TWU accreditation.

Cross-Province, All-Member Vote in B.C.

The B.C. Law Society accredited TWU on April 11, but its members will vote on reversing that decision. By the time of the LSUC vote, at least 1,117 members had signed a petition for a vote among all members. The LSBC has scheduled a special general meeting for June 10. Members from across the province will meet by teleconference to consider a resolution directing that “Trinity Western University is not an approved faculty of law.”

On April 14, a petitioner represented by Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby (an ex-officio LSUC bencher) commenced a lawsuit against the B.C. Minister of Advanced Education to challenge the B.C. government over its December 2013 approval of TWU’s law school. TWU will apply to be added as a respondent to that case.

TWU’s announcement notes that the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education, and Law Societies in B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan have extended accreditation to graduates of TWU’s proposed law school.

Saying the decisions in Ontario and Nova Scotia are “legally incorrect,” Kuhn said: “The LSUC’s decision to reject otherwise highly qualified graduates sends a message that in Ontario you cannot hold religious values and fully participate in society.”

No matter the outcome, Kuhn reiterated, TWU is going forward with its plans to launch Canada’s first law school at a faith-based university in September 2016.

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