Law Society of the Northwest Territories

Practising in the North

Photo Credit: Scott Lough.

The Law Society of the Northwest Territories is the governing body for all lawyers in the NWT.  Its mandate is to ensure the public is well-served by a legal profession that is independent, responsible and responsive.


Law Library Closure, Proposed Law Resource Centre

On November 23, 2016, members of the Law Society Executive met with Department of Justice Deputy Minister Martin Goldney and Assistant Deputy Minister (Attorney General) Mark Aitken to discuss the future of the M.M. de Weerdt law library/resource centre.  We were pleased to receive a copy of the just-completed report of the Department’s internal review committee (comprised of Sarah Kay, Ian Rennie, Bill Rouse and Jeff Round). The report contains detailed information on the library’s holdings, the costs of maintaining the collections and  recommendations for the disposition and retention of existing court materials. The report is available for your review here.  We welcome input from our members – please forward any comments to Bob Wilson.

During the meeting, the Law Society received assurances that while the physical space for the library and its holdings will be reduced with future renovations, planning is underway for a new resource centre that would ensure the existing needs of counsel are met and the public’s access to legal information will be enhanced.  The planning activities include giving consideration to finding a more appropriate location and ensuring public visibility for the centre.  The Law Society Executive was pleased  to hear the Department will consult with the Law Society on an ongoing basis and looks forward to the formation of a formalized committee or advisory board with representation from the Law Society and other interested or affected parties. 

We have confidence the ongoing discussions will result in the development of a more efficient and valuable Northern legal resource centre, and we expect the incoming Executive will take up this work with a view to maintaining levels of service to the profession and the public.


Joint LSNT/CBA-NT Statement of Reconciliation in Response To TRC Calls to Action

On June 21, 2016, Law Society of the Northwest Territories President Shannon Cumming presented a Statement of Reconciliation in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

The Law Society of the Northwest Territories (LSNT) and the Canadian Bar Association, Northwest Territories Branch (CBA-NT) established a working group to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action. The drafting of a statement of reconciliation was part of their work and was endorsed by the Executives of the LSNT and CBA-NT.   LSNT President Shannon Cumming read the joint Statement of Reconciliation to a large crowd of people gathered at the National Aboriginal Day celebrations at Yellowknife's Somba K’e Park.

The text of the Statement of Reconciliation can be found here.

The complete report from the working group to the Executives of the LSNT and CBA-NT can be found here.

NWT Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal for the Northwest Territories will be revising its rules respecting civil appeals with a view to overall modernization and increased efficiency. Comments and input from the members of the Bar and the federal and territorial Justice departments are welcomed as a part of this process.

A draft copy of the proposed new rules can be found here. Comments should be provided in writing to either Justice K. M. Shaner or Justice L. A. Charbonneau by Oct. 31, 2016. The mailing address for the Court of Appeal of the Northwest Territories is:

The Court of Appeal of the Northwest Territories
P.O. Box 550
Yellowknife, NT X1A 2N4

NWT Access to Justice Committe

The NWT Access to Justice Committee (“the Committee”) is pleased to share two new documents prepared for the Committee by Aggie Brockman with a grant from the Law Foundation:

The “NWT Justice Services, Programs and Resources Inventory” will assist frontline workers, justice professionals and members of the public seeking assistance, legal information or direction to services and other justice resources.

The “Inventory Project Report” provides context to the Inventory’s content and organization and discusses the importance of maintaining the currency of the document.  It also provides research participants’ views on existing barriers to access to justice and gaps in the justice system that negatively impact access to justice for NWT residents.

Court Registry

The Courthouse continues to be open over the lunch hour  for public  access to the NWT Court Registry. This will continue while the experimental extended hours are assessed.

The front doors of the Court House are no longer locked at 12 noon,and elevators have been adjusted to allow the general public access to the 3rd floor. However, access to all other floors will continue to be restricted from 12 –1pm.

Related Sites

Northwest Territories Law Foundation

Canadian Bar Association (NWT Branch)

Northwest Territories Courts

Department of Justice
Government of the Northwest Territories