Tuesday, November 14, 2006

SFSS goes to court

On Wed Nov 8, the impeached SFSS Directors filed a petition with the BC Supreme Court, requesting that the Sept 27 meeting of Forum (when the SGM was called) be declared invalid, and hence also the impeachments & the SGM itself. The petition & the affidavit of Glyn Lewis are available online at http://www.studentunion.ca/forum/lawsuit.html

On Fri Nov 10, the remaining Directors met with a potential lawyer, but did not retain him. They are continuing to seek a new lawyer for the Society.

On Tues Nov 14, Don Crane (counsel for the impeached directors) filed a request for "short leave" (see below). Forum rep Adam Lein attended, along with Titus Gregory (Forum Chair, named as a Respondent) and Andrea Sandau (SFSS Director - University Relations Officer), and presented the following points: 1) It is the actions and procedures of Forum that are called into question by the impeached directors' petition. 2) If the impeached directors' request to abolish the Sept 27th meeting of Forum is granted, all those members who were ratified at that meeting will no longer be ratified. In effect, the petition would serve to disenfranchise democratically elected representatives of the student body. Either of these reasons is sufficient to show that Forum members are interested parties to this petition and need to be served. The court agreed; the impeached directors have been ordered to serve notice (see below) to the 28 members who were ratified at that meeting (includes me, the Biology Grad Caucus Rep). As a result, the court did not grant the impeached director's request for short leave, and court was adjourned.

At this time, Respondents Titus Gregory and Bryan Jones have retained Ulf Ottho as their legal representation. The extra time has given the Board of Directors an opportunity to seek legal representation for themselves as well. Also at today's court session, director Andrea Sandau filed an affidavit in support of Forum's actions and of the SGM. The Society's financial crisis was also discussed.

Some useful Definitions & explanations:
Appearance: means that you will receive a copy of all documents and be notified of any further proceedings related to the case; that you wish to be heard (you have the right to file an affidavit). At this point, all the respondents, as well as some of the directors and some members of Forum, have filed appearances. Filing an appearance does *not* make you legally liable and does not impose extra responsibilities or risks on you.
Respondent: a person mentioned in the petition as appropriate for responding to the request the petition makes. In this case, *only* Titus Gregory, Jan Gunn, and Bryan Jones are respondents. People who file appearances would *not* be respondents.
Interested party: Any person with a stake in the outcome of the case. In this case, we believe that members of Forum are interested parties for the reasons stated above.
Affidavits: written, sworn testimony. Delineates *facts* from the perspective of the person filing the affidavit. At this point, two people have filed affidavits: Glyn Lewis (impeached MSO) and Andrea Sandau (URO).
Short leave: the law provides a timeline for this sort of case. It's intended to give all interested parties adequate time to seek legalrepresentation and prepare their viewpoint. Sometimes, urgent situations arise that require that the matter be decided as quickly as possible; in such scenarios, somebody can file for "short leave", which means the usual rules will be set aside. The impeached directors are asking for short leave in this case, citing the Society's financial crisis. However, if both sides can come to an agreement that resolves the crisis, short leave is unnecessary, and the Board will have a chance to acquire legal representation.
Being served: when you officially receive notice that you are considered an interested party in a legal action, you have been served. You can acknowledge this notice by "filing an appearance" (see above); this must be done within a week of being served. The court ruled that the Forum reps ratified on Sept 27th must be served fairly soon (in the next couple of days).