Omnibus Bill Introduced

Department of Justice

November 10, 2000 10:00 AM

Several acts were amended today as part of the Nova Scotia
government's plan to update and improve the administration of
justice and to streamline government operations. The omnibus
Justice and Administration Reform 2000 Act, introduced by Justice
Minister Michael Baker, also includes amendments intended to
clarify assessments in the oil and gas industry.

There are several justice-related changes, including changes to
the Family Court Act and the Provincial Court Act. A new Judicial
Council to deal with judicial discipline for Family and
Provincial Court judges will be created. Nova Scotia now has the
option of establishing its own council or creating a joint
council with the other Atlantic provinces. The council will now
include laypersons, who will work with a clearly defined
complaint process. That process begins with the chief judge. The
complaint may be referred to a review committee and finally a
hearing committee. Sanctions ranging from counselling to removal
from office are laid out.

Executive Council may order that a judge be removed from office
after a recommendation has been received from the Judicial
Council and the Minister of Justice.

The Justices of the Peace Act is amended to allow for the
appointment of full and part-time justices of the peace. The
changes recognize that justices of the peace who perform judicial
functions are entitled to a degree of judicial independence. It
separates justices of the peace into specific categories based on
the functions they perform. Cabinet will no longer be able to
revoke appointments for presiding justices of the peace, who may
be removed only on the recommendation of a judge after an inquiry
has been held.

The Summary Proceedings Act is changed to allow for the use of
telewarrants where it is not practical for a peace officer to
personally appear before a justice of the peace to get a search
warrant. The amendment means that an officer may submit a sworn
information by phone, fax or computer. The information must
outline why a personal appearance is not practical and must be
filed with the clerk of the court as soon as reasonably possible
and within seven days after the warrant is executed.

Amendments to the Barristers and Solicitors Act are mainly
housekeeping in nature and include the following.

--The provision prohibiting lawyers seeking business is repealed.
--The number of elected members to Bar Council is reduced.
--The structure of the Liability Claims Fund is changed and the
insurance program is made mandatory.
--When legal consumers have questions relating to the fairness of
their legal bills, they can now appear before Small Claims Court
adjudicators.

In keeping with the government restructuring process that began
earlier this year, the Gaming Control, the Theaters and
Amusements and Liquor Control acts are amended. The amendments
permit the Utility and Review Board to license premises for the
sale of liquor and to hold public hearings relating to licensing.
The amendments transfer inspection duties outlined under these
acts to the Department of Environment and Labour. This allows for
the elimination of the Alcohol and Gaming Authority Board.

"The realignment uses our resources more effectively," said Mr.
Baker.

Changes to the Assessment Act clearly define assessable property
in the oil and gas industry. The amendments ensure that
pipelines, gas plants, fractionation plants, petroleum industrial
plants and petro-chemical plants (including all fixtures and
attachments) are subject to business occupancy assessment.

"We expect the industry to pay their fair share of taxes, and
these amendments simply remove any ambiguity with respect to the
issue," said Mr. Baker.

The Municipal Government Act is changed to ensure that any
outstanding municipal taxes is paid from the proceeds of the sale
of personal property that may have been taken or repossessed.

"This bill offers some progressive and necessary changes," said
Mr. Baker. "It's part of our overall commitment to making
government--and the justice system--operate more effectively."


FOR BROADCAST USE:

     Justice Minister Michael Baker today introduced changes to

several acts to update and improve the administration of justice

and to streamline government operations.

     The omnibus Justice and Administration Reform 2000 Act also

includes amendments to clarify assessments in the oil and gas

industry.

     Under the changes, the province can create a new Judicial

Council to deal with judicial discipline for Family and

Provincial Court judges.

     Changes to the Justice of the Peace Act recognize that

justices of the peace who perform judicial functions are entitled

to a degree of judicial independence.

     The Summary Proceedings Act will allow a peace officer to

use telewarrants as search warrants by submitting sworn

information by phone, fax or computer when appearing before a

justice of the peace is not practical.

     Amendments to the Barristers and Solicitors Act are mainly

housekeeping in nature and include the following.


--The provision prohibiting lawyers seeking business is repealed.

--The number of elected members to Bar Council is reduced.

--The structure of the Liability Claims Fund is changed and the

insurance program is made mandatory.

--When legal consumers have questions relating to the fairness of

their legal bills, they can now appear before Small Claims Court

adjudicators.


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Contact: Michele McKinnon
         Department of Justice
         902-424-6811
         E-mail: mckinngm


kjd                      November 10, 2000      9:58 a.m.