The Law Society of B.C. is appealing a ruling last month that Langley’s Trinity Western University could accredit future lawyers.
The ongoing legal dispute began when TWU announced it wanted to open its own law school.
Trinity has been controversial for years because of its Community Covenant, a document students and staff must sign, which among other things forbids sex outside of heterosexual marriage.
When TWU asked law societies across Canada to allow it to train lawyers, some allowed it, others, including Ontario’s, said it would not accept TWU graduates as lawyers.
In B.C., the local Law Society’s benchers – the society’s governing body – at first voted in favour of accreditation. After an outcry by some lawyers and a vote against it by the society’s membership, they changed their mind in October 2014.
TWU sought a legal ruling and on Dec. 10. Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson ruled against the Law Society.
He found the benchers had improperly given up their authority to the society members at large.
Now the society will take the case to the B.C. Court of Appeal.
“We respectfully maintain that it was proper for the Benchers to conclude that the voice of our members is important and that we should be guided by that voice on this issue,” said Law Society president David Crossin.
He also said that issues of competing Charter rights are raised by the TWU law school – the rights of gay, lesbian, and transgender people to equality, and the religious freedom rights of TWU.
The B.C. Court of Appeal should resolve this fundamental issue, Crossin said.
“We had hoped the Law Society of B.C. would let Justice Hinkson’s decision stand, but we were prepared for an appeal, and we’re pleased that the decision will now rest with the courts,” said TWU spokesperson Amy Robertson.
“The decision to approve a law school graduate must be based not on the personal views of society members, but on the law and evidence. For this reason, we believe the decision to approve TWU graduates will stand in the end,” Robertson said.
This is just one of several legal battles TWU has faced over its planned law school.