(VANCOUVER, B.C., 22 December, 2005) - If a Supreme Court of B.C. class action suit filed here yesterday is successful, the provincial government may have to refund hundreds of millions of dollars in illegally collected sales tax on legal services since 1993.
The suit was filed by the law firm of Poyner Baxter LLP of North Vancouver, which works predominantly in the field of class action suits. The action follows a December 20 majority decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal, granting
"a declaration that to the extent that the Act purports to tax legal services related to the determination of rights and obligations by courts of law or independent administrative tribunals, it is unconstitutional as offending the principal of access to justice, one of the elements of the rule of law."
"This has been a shocking situation since the New Democratic Party introduced this tax, the only professional fees in B.C. subject to PST," said lawyer Jim Poyner. "Allegedly, the funds were supposed to go to support Legal Aid, but they disappeared into general revenue. In opposition, the Liberals repeatedly demanded that the PST from legal fees go as intended to Legal Aid, but this never happened. However, since forming government in 2001, the Liberals have continued to collect these taxes, but Legal Aid funding has been cut in half. To describe this hypocrisy as shocking is an understatement."
Under B.C.ís "Class Proceedings Act," a suit is brought in the name of one individual as
"representative of a class." This cites the case of one person who paid $8,050 in Provincial Sales Tax on top of her solicitor's fees, but if certified by the Supreme Court, the action will represent and potentially benefit every individual and corporation in the province who has paid PST on legal fees since it was introduced.
The complete text of both the Court of Appeal Judgment and the Statement of Claim can be found at
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FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Poyner Baxter LLP, Suite 408 - 145 Chadwick Court
North Vancouver, B.C. V7M 3K1 Telephone: 604.988 6321 Fax: 604.988 3632
web site: www.poynerbaxter.com
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