Sections of the federal government’s anti-terrorism and money laundering financing law are unconstitutional because they violate solicitor-client privilege, the Supreme Court of Canada declared Friday.
In a 7-0 ruling, the court carved out an exemption for lawyers from the federal government’s 2000 law that targets money laundering and terrorist financing. The law still applies to other professions, such as financial institutions and accountants.
The court upheld lower court victories by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada that had suspended the implementation of these provisions on lawyers pending the outcome of this case.
The government had wanted lawyers to be subject to provisions of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, or FINTRAC.
The regulations would have compelled lawyers to keep track of their clients’ financial transactions and subjected lawyers’ offices to searches without warrants.
The Supreme Court said that violated lawyers’ charter rights to be protected from unlawful search and seizure and the undue deprivation of their liberty.
Real estate brokers or sales representatives, are still have the record keeping and client identification obligations.