Smith Hutchison can help you deal with administrative tribunals such as:
» the Workers Compensation Board
» the Residential Tenancy Office
» the Human Rights Tribunal
» the Office of the Public Trustee
AREAS OF PRACTICE
Occasionally your business, contractual, or insurance arrangements will not go through as you expected, or the vendor of merchandise will fail to deliver as promised. Or a professional such as a doctor, contractor, lawyer, or other professional, did not provide you what they promised. Whether it is breach of contract, professional malpractice, professional negligence, breach of privacy, assault, battery, or some other tort, we can provide you with advice and, where necessary, take legal action to help you obtain a just and speedy remedy. We provide services at all court levels, including provincial, supreme, and appellate levels in both the provincial and federal courts of Canada.
CORPORATE, COMMERCIAL & BUSINESS LAW
We can help you set up your new business, buy or sell, or restructure an old one, arrange for financing, or help you with any other aspect of your professional and business needs. We work with proprietors, partnerships, corporations and joint ventures from initial organization to forming international business relations. There are many types of business organizations. A proprietorship is the simplest type. Here the business owner carries on a business in their own name or another name that is registered with the provincial corporate registry. The proprietor may hire employees, but there may only be one owner of the proprietorship. This type of business is very inexpensive and the owner needs only file one tax return for both him/herself and the proprietorship. However, a sole proprietor is personally liable for any of the proprietorship's business obligations or debts, and there are certain tax advantages available to companies, that a sole proprietor cannot take advantage of. A partnership is another business structure. It arises where two or more people run a business together,whether they have a written partnership agreement or not. This relationship is governed by the British Columbia Partnership Act. A partnership is also an inexpensive and simple business structure, and again each partner need only file their own taxes; no separate return is needed for the partnership. However, in most cases all partners are liable for the partnership's obligations and for the actions of every other partner. There is a presumption that any partner can contract on behalf of all other partners. Also, there are certain tax advantages available to companies, that a partnership cannot take advantage of. Partners can also hold limited partnerships whereby limited partners can contribute capital, but no managerial or business input into the partnership. Limited partners hold limited liability from the actions of other partners and the partnership as a whole. A company is the most complex business structure and must be incorporated. Upon incorporation, the company becomes an individual business entity, separate from its owners. Incorporation can be either provincially or federally, though a federal company must register in each province in which it carries on business. This is the most highly regulated and expensive business structure, but it offers numerous tax advantages, flexible ownership options, and limited liability of its members. There are also disadvantages, however, in that it can be expensive to create and run, as there is a rigid statutory scheme to be followed, with annual filings, and separate tax returns for the corporation.
EMPLOYMENT & WRONGFUL DISMISSAL LAW
Smith Hutchison advises both employers and employees on how to meet the changing job market to structure termination packages, lay offs and severance. If settlements cannot be reached, we will work to protect our clients' rights in Court and before administrative Boards and Tribunals that deal with employment issues. Termination of employment means that the employment relationship is over. This can occur by the expiration of an employment term or upon the firing of an employee. When an employer lays-off or fires an employee, the employer must either have just cause for doing so or provide the employee with appropriate notice period or pay in lieu of such notice. Under the B.C. Employment Standards Act, an employer need not provide notice or pay in lieu if an employee is fired for just cause. If there is no just cause, the employer may be subject to a wrongful dismissal action. Many things can constitute cause, but it is up to the employer to prove that cause existed. because dismissal without notice is a severe punishment, it is justified only where there has been serious misconduct. Generally an employer must give an employee a warning if the misconduct is not sufficiently serious to justify dismissal. Below are some categories traditionally constituting just cause:
1. fraudulent misrepresentations as to qualifications;
2. serious misconduct;
3. sexual harassment;
4. breach of fidelity or duty;
5. conflict of interest;
6. wilful disobedience.
Upon termination in British Columbia, the minimum standards for compensation are in the Employment Standards Act. These range from 1 week's pay after 3 months of service up to 8 weeks' pay after 8 years. However, an employee can be entitled to much more compensation under the common law - up to 24 months in the most severe cases. If you have been wrongfully dismissed, you must look for similar employment and document this search even though it may reduce the court's award of compensation. This is because the law requires you to minimize your losses by looking for a similar job or your award may be reduced anyway. There are also situations where an employee leaves employment of his own volition which also entitle the employee to claim damages. This is known as constructive dismissal and it arises where the employer has changed the employment contract or acted in such a way as to entitle the employee to treat the actions of the employer as constituting dismissal.
Smith Hutchison can help you:
» Obtain child custody or access
» Obtain support for you and/or your children
» Divide family assets
» Remove your spouse from the family home
» Obtain an Order keeping your spouse away, or setting strict limits on contact
» Divide assets from a common-law relationship
» Obtain a Paternity Order and get support from your child's father
» Deal with an infirm or elderly relative's care and management of his/her estate.
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW
Intellectual Property is not real property (such as land), or personal property (chattels such as a bracelet). It is intangible, and thus far more difficult to protect from theft and misuse. Your intellectual property can easily be stolen by third parties, so you must protect it. Businesses protect their intellectual property through the use of trade secrets (such as the formula to a soft drink), trademarks, trade names (business names such as "Smith Hutchison"), and copyright (the written content, graphics, and photos in this web site). Every business person should know how and when to protect their Intellectual Property so that no one else can profit by wrongfully using it. We can help you do this. Artists must also protect their work while looking after their professional careers. Whether one is a musician, songwriter, actor, model, or are involved in any other of the arts or entertainment industries, or the WWW, we can can help you protect your property. Inventors can protect their inventions through patents, which are registered with the Federal government. We can advise you on designing and implementing business organizations, contracts, financial arrangements, union negotiations, producer services and protecting your intellectual property.
We act in the purchase, sale and leasing of private and commercial properties, homes and condominiums, including mortgages. We can also help developers obtain necessary permits, etc. for renovations and new construction projects.
WILLS AND ESTATES
We can prepare both simple and complex wills, living wills, powers of attorney and trusts. We also probate estates and provide estate planning advice. We also handle contested estate matters and applications under the Wills Variation Act. Often people delay estate planning or attempt it without a lawyer's help. Estate law is extremely complex. Smith Hutchison can ensure your wishes are carried out and possibly save your heirs thousands of dollars in the process.