Monday, December 10, 2007


Variations on a theme of solicitor-client privilege

Villa del Loophole

Basi-Virk: BC government claiming solicitor-client privilege over BC Rail documents - fight for access resumes in BC Supreme Court Tuesday

The BC Liberal provincial government is claiming solicitor-client privilege over a number of documents connected to the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail - documents that lawyers for three government aides say are needed to defend their clients.

On Tuesday morning lawyers for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi will argue that Justice Elizabeth Bennett should release the documents, while government lawyer George Copley will oppose that request.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend BC Supreme Court this morning - but
Canadian Press reports today arguments were made in open court until noon before adjourning till Tuesday morning.

That also means the secret hearing about whether a police informant could be heard in-camera has ended but it is unknown if Bennett has ruled on that matter.

David Basi's lawyer Michael Bolton told the court that there is no basis for maintaining solicitor-client privilege, saying the BC government is hiding behind it. And he said former BC Finance Minister Gary Collins will be a key witness in the case.

"When the merits of the case come to be tried you will, of course, be hearing from a variety of witnesses, including Gary Collins," he said, according to Canadian Press.

Collins denies any wrongdoing in the BC Rail deal but court has heard he was the subject of police surveillance when he met with officials from U.S. bidder OmniTRAX at Villa del Lupo restaurant in Vancouver in November 2003.

Copley, who is the lawyer for the executive branch of the government, told the court documents seized by police are protected by solicitor-client privilege and can't be released to defence lawyers.

Copley said they include advice from lawyers and bankers on the sale of B.C. Rail and are therefore confidential.

Bolton said documents seized in the police raid on the BC Legislature on December 28, 2003 includes information he alleges show that Collins approved a "consolation prize" for OmniTRAX if they stayed in the bidding for BC Rail, CP says.

Canadian Pacific dropped out of the privatization bidding before the winner - CN Rail - was announced, complaining that the process was unfair.

[Bill Tieleman] will be in BC Supreme Court Tuesday - watch here for more coverage.

From Bill's site:

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