I have heard rumours that it is “illegal” or “unlawful” to donate groceries or food that is beyond a best-buy date, or that there is a liability concern. This is incorrect.
The BC Government has passed legislation which will change how society disputes are handled. All societies, members, and non-profit partners should be aware of these changes.
It is difficult to know which level of court a society may assert certain provisions of the Societies Act before. A Master of the BC Supreme Court has certain limited powers, while a judge is able to rely on the inherent jurisdiction of the court as well as specific statutory powers set out in the new Act to determine certain final relief.
Under the new Societies Act, members may bring a claim against a society for unfairly prejudicial or oppressive conduct on the part of the society, its directors, or its members. I’ve often been asked whether you can contract out of this right by having members waive it in advance or in restricting it in your bylaws, or whether an automatic termination provision can be used to expel a member who brings such legal proceedings.
Societies have significant goodwill tied up in their names, brands, and initiatives. Many take the step of registering a trademark to ensure their unique brand remains their own. Others obtain certification marks, in an effort to provide some oversight to certain industries. This post provides an overview of the Canadian trademark registration process and costs.
Many aboriginal groups and artists have traditional marks, designs, patterns or otherwise which they use in association with their cultural heritage or with goods or services. Canadian intellectual property laws are broad enough to provide protection to many of these. This post sets out a high-level overview of these protections and what they may apply to.
The BC Supreme Court has clarified when a suspension of a society’s director is not a removal, and provided an example of when director discipline may occur without the court’s intervention under the provisions of the Society Act, R.S.B.C 1996, c. 433 (the “Act”).
Societies Act lawyers often rely only on the statutory language. It is useful to regularly consult recent court cases to determine if BC judges have considered the modernized act and either incorporated prior leading case law or common-law principles into the jurisprudence. A list of three cases from 2017, all notable, are below.
Every so often, I file Freedom of Information (“FOI”) requests to obtain internal program materials which may be of use to BC Societies from the Registrar of Companies. The results contain presentations, quick reference sheets, and other useful documentation which may be of interest to those transitioning to the new Act.
Why incorporate as a society? What are the reasons for doing so, and why not stay an unincorporated association?