New City lawyers—so far good

Today’s Richmond Review has an insightful editorial about the Garden City Lands. It was prompted by the City of Richmond’s legal response to the Musqueam Indian Band’s attempt to wring more money from the people of Richmond. As you may recall, the Band launched its action just nine days after the completion of the sale to the City that netted the Band a profit of about $24 million for a beneficial interest it received at no charge.

If you’re one of us who practically enjoy reading legal documents, you may wish to read the City of Richmond’s statement of defense (June 30, 2010) to the Musqueam suit against the City (May 11, 2010), following an initial writ of summons (April 9, 2010).

In general, the defence is solidly written. I was pleased but not surprised when I noticed that the City has new legal representation on this issue, Hunter Litigation Chambers. The Garden City Lands Coalition Society and I have repeatedly urged the City to hire the best available lawyers. We have sometimes  felt that what we were seeing was not quite what was needed, but the new legal document makes me think the City has taken a further step in the right direction.

To confirm the good impression, I visited the Hunter Litigation Chambers website, which added to my confidence. John Hunter, who appears to be heading the firm’s team for the Garden City Lands case, is evidently expert in aboriginal law. Although this case is a contract dispute on the surface, the aboriginal element will inevitably come to the fore at some point, and the City legal team will no doubt be right for the challenge.

I should caution that the Statement of Defence is imperfect. Just as a non-lawyer with background knowledge, I see a shortcoming or two. Since the City deserves help more than the Band, I’ll send a note about it to one or more members of Richmond council. The imperfections are one of the reasons for ongoing vigilance, but the prospects are good.

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