As previously reported, on October 21, 2019, the BC provincial government announced sweeping and significant changes to the BC Securities Act which are intended to give the BC Securities Commission (BCSC) the strongest powers in the country to impose tougher consequences for wrongdoers. The provincial government recently issued an order in council confirming that these changes will take effect on March 27.

The amendments not only broaden the types of misconduct the BCSC regulates, but provide for expanded powers to collect financial sanctions through enhanced abilities to freeze property and new powers to seize registered retirement savings plans.

Particularly troublesome is the power of the BCSC to order significant administrative penalties against persons (including companies) without a hearing and without advance notice to such person. Following notice of the penalty, persons have a right to dispute the contravention and request an opportunity to be heard.

Many of these changes are unprecedented and no doubt be litigated in the coming years.

One of the originally proposed changes which was certain to be litigated through the courts, BCSC's ability to ask the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia to refuse issuance of a driver's license or car insurance to anyone who owes the BCSC more than $3,000, is not being brought into force at this time. Whether this change is brought in to take effect at a later date remains to be seen.

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