Statutes Amendment Act

New Bill would keep Alberta’s legislation clear and consistent

On November 7, 2013, the Government of Alberta proposed a number of minor changes to several pieces of legislation that would ensure, if passed, our legal system and laws are kept up to date.

Alberta has introduced Bill 38, the Statutes Amendment Act, which would make it easier for Albertans to understand the laws that govern them.

Some of the amendments would ensure legislation reflects what’s already in practice. For example, amending the Court of Queen’s Bench Act and the Court of Appeal Act would update these Acts to reflect the current number of judicial positions.

The Acts that would be updated, and the potential benefits to Albertans, are explained below:

Civil Enforcement Act – to protect registered education savings plan contributions from creditors to ensure money invested for post-secondary education is available to a child.

Dower Act – to ensure that when a disposition of property subject to dower rights is made, the spouse is fully informed of the implications during a meeting with a lawyer.

Family Law Act – to clarify that the granting of a declaration that a person is not a parent does not affect any rights and duties that have been exercised, or any interests in property that have been distributed before the declaration was made, unless the court orders otherwise.

Fatal Accidents Act – to move the increase in bereavement damages when someone is killed by a wrongdoer (e.g. in a motor vehicle collision) from the regulation to the Act to reduce confusion. Amounts, which are payable by the wrongdoer, were increased to reflect inflation effective May 1, 2013. Once the Act is amended the regulation will be repealed.

Judicature Act – to fill a legislative gap by providing parties to vexatious litigant proceedings before a judge of the Provincial Court with the same right of appeal as parties to similar proceedings before a justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench or the Court of Appeal.

Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act – to expedite payment of compensation to claimants injured in “hit and run” accidents, at the discretion of the administrator when the claim is under $25,000.

Police Act – to provide the Lieutenant Governor in Council the authority to grant a commission to serving senior police officers (including inspector, superintendent, deputy chief of police and chief of police).

Recording of Evidence Act – to remove obsolete references and update terminology to reflect changes in the management of transcript services in Alberta.

Special Areas ActSpecial Areas Act – to increase the membership of the Special Areas Board from three members to four members, allowing for continual representation from each Special Area. Representation from each of the Special Areas will improve communications with ratepayers.

Alberta Personal Property Bill of Rights (APPBOR) – to exempt the recently proclaimed International Interests in Mobile Aircraft Equipment Act from this Act, consistent with existing policy. If the Crown enforces security in aircraft under the convention, it is a normal commercial transaction and is not meant to be covered by the APPBOR. The APPBOR does not apply to taxes, penalties or normal commercial transactions carried out by the Crown. Current exemptions include the Personal Property Security Act and the Civil Enforcement Act.

Legislation affecting the Courts:

Court of Appeal Act – changes the number of judges to reflect the current complement.

Court of Queen’s Bench Act – changes the number of judges to reflect the complement.

Provincial Court Act – makes changes to allow the Provincial Court to use electronic documents, and provides the Lieutenant Governor with the authority to make regulations specifying requirements and standards for electronic documents and electronic signatures.

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