May 21, 2020
May 2020 Board Recap Video
President, Kent Teskey, QC, and President-Elect Darlene Scott, QC, provide a video update on Law Society work related to the COVID-19 pandemic and discuss what happened at the May Board meeting. Topics include:

  • the upcoming Bencher election,
  • rule changes related to the suspension of the mandatory continuing professional development (CPD) filing requirement for 2020 and 2021,
  • details about the work of the Lawyer Competence and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committees, and
  • the new appeal process for new Practice Readiness Education Program (PREP) being launched by the Canadian Centre for Professional Legal Education (CPLED).
Anti-Money Laundering Compliance and COVID-19
Lawyers play a critical role in the fight against financial crimes, even during these challenging times. Offences for money laundering such as fraud, cybercrime, misuse and misappropriation of financial aid, exploitative schemes etc. could increase and the likelihood that the legal profession will be used as a conduit to launder funds may increase.  

The Law Society's temporary response to anti-money laundering compliance includes:
  • The Law Society has temporarily permitted the use of expired photo identification to complete verification. Lawyers were permitted to rely on driver’s licenses that expired on or after March 1, 2020, so that in-person visits to registration offices could be avoided. Albertans who had birthdays between March 17 and May 14, and whose licenses expired this year, had until May 15, 2020, to renew. Alberta driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations that expired prior to May 15 must now be renewed. Expired licenses may only be accepted until May 31, 2020, at which time the grace period will be over. Passport offices are not yet open for non-urgent passport renewals, and it is temporarily permitted to accept passports that expired after March 1, 2020, until further notice.  
  • The Law Society will not require lawyers to verify the identity of a client by requiring the lawyer to be in the physical presence of the client. Face-to-face verification via video conference has been temporarily permitted. This is an interim measure and may not be continued after the current health crisis resolves.
  • Explore alternatives to traditional ID methods of verifying identity, such as the dual process or credit file methods. For more information about these methods, review the guidance document on the Law Society’s website.

We encourage the legal profession to be particularly vigilant and watch out for red flags. For more information on strategies for managing anti-money laundering risk please refer to the COVID-19 FAQs.
Ministerial Orders from the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General
Effective May 8, 2020, Guarantees Acknowledgement Act certificates may be executed by video-conference. The Ministerial Order permits lawyers to meet with guarantors by two-way video-conferencing, to complete the certificate required under the Guarantees Acknowledgement Act. The Ministerial Order prescribes the wording of the certificate to be used when lawyers meet with and examine guarantors by video, to ensure they are aware of and understand the contents of their executed guarantees. The Ministerial Order does not eliminate the requirement that the certificate be attached to the guarantee, in accordance with section 4 of the Act, or suspend any other requirements of the legislation. 

The Ministerial Order is in effect for 60 days after June 15, 2020, when the declaration of the public health emergency in Alberta expires, or when otherwise terminated under the terms of the Order. 
Effective May 15, 2020, the Government of Alberta issued a Ministerial Order permitting personal directives, powers of attorney and wills to be witnessed by “electronic methods of communication” where it is impossible or medically unsafe for parties to physically attend before lawyers during the pandemic. The Ministerial Order temporarily amends the Personal Directives Act (PDA) and regulation AR 26/1998, the Powers of Attorney Act (PAA) and Wills and Succession Act (WSA). It is in effect for 60 days following June 15, 2020, or until otherwise terminated under the terms of the Order.

The Ministerial Order states that “persons are deemed to be in each other’s presence while connected to each other by an electronic method of communication in which they are able to see, hear and communicate with each other in real time.” The use of these electronic methods of communication are limited, however, to those situations in which “a lawyer who is an active member as defined in the Legal Profession Act is providing … legal advice and services respecting the making, signing and witnessing…” of the personal directive, power of attorney or will. Active members of the Law Society, by definition, do not include students-at-law. 

Please also note that the Ministerial Order applies to the WSA when testators are signing their wills, as well as in circumstances where testators are directing other individuals to sign on their behalf, and in their presence. 

Personal directives, powers of attorney and wills are important estate planning documents. It is essential for lawyers to ensure, when assisting clients with the execution of these documents by video-conferencing, that they take all necessary precautions to assess issues related to competence, fraud, undue influence and duress. Please review the guidance on our website related to the remote execution and witnessing of real estate documents, for additional tips on conducting video client meetings and overseeing the execution of these important documents.
Ministerial Order from Minister of Children's Services
Ministerial Order from the Minister of Children's Services suspending limitation and time periods set out in various acts and regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Limitation and time periods set out under these acts and regulations are suspended from March 17, 2020 until June 1, 2020.
Provincial Court of Alberta Announcement