Uniform Law Conference OKs model law to reduce barriers to interprovincial judgment enforcement

Civil section also heard interim report from working group on non-disclosure agreements

Uniform Law Conference OKs model law to reduce barriers to interprovincial judgment enforcement

At its recent gathering, the Uniform Law Conference of Canada (ULCC) approved a model law aimed at removing barriers to interprovincial enforcement of judgments.

The ULCC civil section approved the Uniform Enforcement of Canadian Judgements Act. Civil section Chair Christine Badcock says the model law is part of a suite that the ULCC has produced to help remove substantive or procedural barriers to enforcing judicial rulings. In 2021, the ULCC approved the Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act.

Once the ULCC approves a draft law, it recommends it to provincial and territorial jurisdictions, which decide whether to adopt it.

The ULCC met for its 105th annual meeting in Charlottetown, PEI, from Aug. 21 to 25. It is a government-supported, non-partisan organization that produces draft legislation to modernize, reform, and harmonize federal, provincial, and territorial laws and has a criminal section and a civil section. Its delegates are legal experts invited by various levels of government and include government lawyers, prosecutors, private practice lawyers, judges, law professors, and representatives from the Law Commission of Canada, bar associations, and law reform organizations.

The ULCC’s civil section heard an interim report from the working group on non-disclosure agreements. The working group has been exploring whether NDAs should be more tightly regulated and is working on developing a draft law.

In February, at its annual meeting, the Canadian Bar Association adopted a resolution to reign in the use of NDAs. Passing with 94 percent of the vote, the measure discourages the use of NDAs to silence whistle-blowers and victims of abuse, discrimination, and harassment and encourages their proper use to protect intellectual property. The CBA also plans to lobby federal, provincial, and territorial governments to take action on NDA misuse.

“NDAs are really in the spotlight,” says Badcock. While NDAs have historically served legitimate purposes, they have also been used to conceal information and wrongdoing and silence complainants. “It’s the use of non-disclosure agreements for those purposes that we’re trying to address,” she says.

The working group is trying to balance the principles of freedom of contract with transparency, accountability, and health and safety. The ULCC civil section discussed the scope of the future draft law and provided direction to the working group to further develop its policy work with respect to producing a model law, says Badcock.

The civil section also approved in principle amendments to the Uniform Benevolent and Community Crowdfunding Act. The section approved the act for common law jurisdictions in 2020. They approved a model for Quebec’s civil law system in 2022. But there were “slight differences” between the two acts, says Badcock. The working group that had developed the civil version suggested they reassess the common law act to ensure the laws would harmonize. “They're not substantive, she says. “They're more just to clarify and clean things up.”

The criminal section decided it would advise the federal Department of Justice to examine the severity of punishments for intimate-partner homicide and revenge porn. The section also carried a resolution to propose increasing the maximum penalty for indictable voyeurism and non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

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