Canada Supreme Court strikes down part of anti-money laundering law targeting lawyers

Canada Supreme Court strikes down part of anti-money laundering law targeting lawyers

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Canada [official website] on Friday struck down [judgment, PDF] part of the nation’s anti-money laundering and terrorist financing law pertaining to lawyers, on the grounds that the legislation infringed on lawyers’ duty to their clients. A unanimous court found that provisions of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act [text], which forced lawyers to collect and report any suspicious financial activity involving their clients to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada [official website], was “inconsistent with the lawyer’s duty of commitment to the client’s cause.” The law, which was challenged by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada [official website], imposed [Reuters report] criminal charges on non-compliant lawyers, but such charges had never been pursued by the government. The court’s decision does not overrule or affect other portions of the anti-money laundering and terrorism finance law.

The Supreme Court of Canada has handed down a number of important decisions in recent months on a wide range of legal issues. Earlier this month the court unanimously struck down [JURIST report] the country’s ban on medically assisted suicide. At the end of January the court ruled [JURIST report] that a worker’s right to strike is constitutionally protected. The court’s decision came after a challenge to the constitutionality of a Saskatchewan statute that limited the ability of “essential service employees” from participating in any strike action against their employer. In November the court ruled [JURIST report] that a term of good faith performance is now an implied requirement in all contractual agreements.