Supreme Court of Canada ruling reaffirms decision not to accredit proposed law school

June 15, 2018

On June 15, 2018, the Supreme Court of Canada delivered its highly anticipated decisions in Trinity Western University, et al. v. Law Society of Upper Canada, and Law Society of British Columbia v. Trinity Western, in which the majority of the Court (7-2) in both cases affirmed that the Law Societies’ decisions not to accredit Trinity Western University’s proposed law school were reasonable and represented a proportionate balance between the Charter rights of equality and religious freedom. The Supreme Court of Canada endorsed the Law Societies’ conclusions that it could not accredit a proposed law school that requires its students, staff and faculty to sign a mandatory community covenant (Covenant), which directly discriminates against individuals and groups based on sexual orientation, gender, marital status and religion.

A leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was granted in December 2017 to Trinity Western University, and the Supreme Court heard arguments from counsel for the university, the law societies of British Columbia and Ontario, as well as from a record 24 intervenors, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, who was represented by Stikeman Elliott and intervened in support of the Law Societies’ decision.

“Personally, it is very rewarding that we represented the CCLA on this important mandate that reaffirms the principles of equality under the Charter and other law in Canada” said Alan D’Silva, senior partner and member of the firm’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution Group in Toronto. Alan was former counsel at the Ontario Human Rights Commission and his treatise on human rights law “Giving Effect to Human Rights Legislation – A Purposive Approach” has been frequently cited in human rights and charter cases including decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada.

“It has been a real privilege to have been part of such an important case that will have implications for future civil liberties in Canada”, said Alexandra Urbanski, an associate of the firm’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution Group in Toronto who represented the CCLA alongside Alan.

Read a summary of this decision in our Knowledge Hub article: A Win for Equality Rights: Trinity Western v. LSUC


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