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Three new judges appointed in British Columbia

|Written By Aidan Macnab
Three new judges appointed in British Columbia
Christopher Giaschi has been appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

With three new judicial appointments on the West Coast, there are two new Supreme Court of British Columbia justices and another new member of the British Columbia and Yukon courts of appeal.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announced on Aug. 31 the appointment of Christopher Giaschi and Karen Horsman to the Supreme Court of British Columbia and Bruce Butler, currently a judge on that court, to the B.C. and Yukon courts of appeal.

Horsman, who received her LLB in 1992 from the University of British Columbia and clerked at the B.C. Supreme Court, has spent most of her career with the B.C. Ministry of the Attorney General, in the civil litigation and constitutional and administrative law groups. She co-edits and is a contributing author to the textbook Government Liability: Law and Practice and has taught at the University of British Columbia’s Allard School of Law.

Horsman’s career has spanned personal injury and provincial Small Claims Court to constitutional litigation at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Butler was called to the bar in 1980 and practised professional liability, insurance, commercial litigation and aviation at Harper Grey LLP until his appointment to the bench in 2007.

He is the former executive director of the Vancouver Bar Association and became the Hague contact judge for British Columbia in 2009. On the editorial board of the British Columbia Family Practice Manual, Butler was on the B.C. Supreme Court’s family law committee since 2010, chairing it since 2015.

Butler helped start the Family Law Project and served as an editor on the British Columbia Family Practice Manual, which is published by the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia.

Coming to B.C. via Bracebridge, Ont., Christopher Giaschi is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School. He was called to the bar in 1988 and began his career in Toronto at Campbell Godfrey & Lewtas, which later merged with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP.

Giaschi says he wanted to be a securities lawyer — until he found out what securities lawyers do.

“I was convinced that I was going to become a securities lawyer, so I did a joint LLB-MBA degree at Osgoode Hall, York University. And then I got myself a job with a good securities firm on Bay Street — Campbell Godfrey and Lewtas,” he says. “And while I was there, I realized what exactly a securities lawyer did and decided I really didn't like that at all.”

While articling at Campbell Godfrey & Lewtas, Giaschi's fate was altered by then-partner and now Chief Justice of Ontario George Strathy. Strathy’s secretary approached the articling students with an offer to take on some legal research over the Christmas holiday.

“I didn't have any plans that Christmas,” he says.

Giaschi volunteered. Strathy’s practice was focused on admiralty law and Giaschi continued to work with Strathy after becoming an associate.

When his articles were nearing an end, he was asked, if he were to be hired back, in which area would he be interested in practising. He said marine law.

“George called me up the next day and said, ‘That's great,’ so that's how I got into it,” he says.

Giaschi says his practice involved Carriage of Goods By Water Act issues, marine insurance disputes, and there would typically be at least one or two collisions in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence every year. In 1991, he moved to Vancouver.

In 1997, Giaschi founded Giaschi & Margolis, a boutique transportation and maritime law firm, and went on to serve as president of the Canadian Maritime Law Association, became a member of the Comité Maritime International and chaired the national maritime law section of the Canadian Bar Association.

He taught maritime law at the University of British Columbia from 2004 to 2009 and is founder and main contributor of AdmiraltyLaw.com.

“I'm looking forward to expanding my horizons — getting back to some of the other areas of law that I used to do a little bit more in my younger days. And mostly I'm looking forward to the challenge of something new and different,” Giaschi says.

Giaschi will replace Susan Griffin, who has been appointed to the B.C. Court of Appeal. Butler will replace Elizabeth Bennett, who has been supernumerary since February of 2017. Horsman will succeed the retiring Paul Pearlman.

  • How about some judges with values.

    Chris Kelly
    Shouldn't Judges be appointed from the ranks of pro-bono lawyers...? Most lawyers are no more than their bags of dirty tricks; why not at least appoint one with values, rather than those who only appreciate the skill of another's dirty tricks. Justice is blind, but perhaps some judges are needed who know when to take off the blindfolds, such as in family law.

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