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Donald J. Sorochan Q.C.
DONALD J. SOROCHAN, Q.C.
B.A. University of Alberta , 1966
L.L.B. University of British Columbia, 1971
Member of the Law Society of British Columbia, 1972
Member of the Law Society of Yukon, 1990
Queen's Counsel (B.C.), 1990
Canadian Bar Association
American Bar Association
Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice
International Commission of Jurists
International Bar Association
Inter-Pacific Bar Association
International Society for the Reform of the Criminal Law
The American Trial Lawyers Association
British Columbia Trial Lawyers Association
American Society of International Law
Canadian Council on International Law
Canadian Criminal Justice Association
International Institute of Strategic Studies
British Columbia Criminal Justice Association
Western Correctional Association
American Correctional Association
American Probation & Parole Association
BACKGROUND SUMMARY AND EXPERIENCE
1. Law Practice
After his call to the Bar of British Columbia in 1972, Mr. Sorochan joined the Vancouver law firm Swinton & Company, the predecessor of Miller Thomson, Vancouver, where he had served as an articled student the previous year. He has practiced with the firm for his entire career.
Mr. Sorochan served as the Managing Partner of Swinton & Company during the periods of 1981 – 1984 and 1996 - 2000. Upon Swinton & Company merging with Miller Thomson LLP in October of 2000, Mr. Sorochan continued as the Managing Partner of the British Columbian and Yukon offices of Miller Thomson LLP until January of 2009. He also served as a member of the National Executive Committee of Miller Thomson LLP until January of 2009. Mr. Sorochan remains a partner in Miller Thomson LLP and is the senior litigation partner in the Vancouver office of the firm.
As one of the firm’s senior partners, his practice encompasses the areas of securities, aboriginal, commercial and construction litigation, administrative law, and criminal law (including prosecution for both the federal and provincial governments). Mr. Sorochan’s advocacy work has resulted in several landmark decisions in Canadian law in these areas.
2. Aviation Law
After his graduation form the BA program at the University of Alberta (1966), Mr. Sorochan was employed by Canadian Pacific Airlines at the Edmonton Airport. That employment continued at Vancouver International Airport during his law studies at UBC (1968 – 71). Upon commencing his law practice in 1972, Mr. Sorochan represented a number of “third level” carriers in regulatory proceedings before the Canadian Transport Commission and in litigation matters. While the regulatory process for route approvals changed, Mr. Sorochan continued to represent carriers in litigation matters and was part of a Miller Thomson team providing legal services for the acquisition of several British Columbia air carriers and the consolidation of their air services.
3. Complex Construction Litigation
As one of the firm’s leading construction lawyers, Mr. Sorochan has acted on behalf of clients in construction law matters since 1972. In doing so, he has provided advice and litigation services to contractors, owners, government agencies, engineers, architects, insurers and bonding companies and has represented the following:
(a) from 1973-75, a general contractor in litigation at the trial and appellate levels of the Federal Court of Canada relating to the construction of a fish hatchery;
(b) the University of British Columbia and the Alma Mater Society of UBC in litigation relating to the failure of laminated beams in the UBC Thunderbird Winter Sports Centre. This involved numerous parties and was settled on the eve of trial;
(c) a consortium of major electrical contractors and a hauling contractor against a major utility relating to the construction of transmission lines. This required counsel appearances in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, the B.C. Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada before trial. The litigation settled after presentation of the plaintiff’s case in the Supreme Court of British Columbia trial;
(d) a major tunneling contractor in litigation against a railway company involving the construction of a railroad tunnel for the Tumbler Ridge Coal Project. This litigation settled on the eve of trial through the use of mediation/settlement procedures;
(e) a major Canadian electrical contractor in complex litigation against a major public utility regarding the construction of an electrical transmission line. This litigation required counsel to appear in the Supreme Court of British Columbia for a lengthy trial and upon appeals to the B.C. Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada;
(f) a major heavy construction and metal fabrication contractor in litigation relating to the construction of facilities for Expo 86. This litigation settled prior to trial;
(g) a major Canadian heavy construction and marine contractor in litigation against a major utility involving the construction of a drainage adit required to stabilize a slobe adjacent to a major hydro dam. Participated through mediation and settlement procedures and conducted the litigation through a complex trial.
4. Complex Securities and Financial Institution Litigation
Mr. Sorochan is a leading securities litigation practitioner. His practice encompasses complex national and international securities litigation. Since commencing practice he has:
(a) provided counsel to individuals, financial institutions, law enforcement and regulatory clients relating to securities litigation matters and money laundering issues;
(b) represented clients in the courts, before regulatory tribunals and in arbitration proceedings relating to securities;
(c) represented both the Crown and the defence at trial and appellate levels of criminal litigation relating to securities;
(d) retained and instructed U.S. counsel on behalf of Canadian clients relating to securities litigation in the U.S.;
(e) been responsible for the conduct of the defence of clients in complex securities litigation, including class actions, in the federal and state courts throughout the U.S. and Canada;
(f) successfully represented a financial institution and its directors in the longest and most complex hearing to date before the British Columbia Securities Commission;
(g) represented the British Columbia Financial Institutions Commission in proceedings related to the influence and control of a credit union by parties accused in the Air India bombing criminal proceedings;
(h) represented Canadian clients in dealings with U.S. state and federal securities regulatory authorities, including negotiating cross-border licensing arrangements and defending parties being investigated; and
(i) represented a financial institution and the Government of Yukon on all aspects of the court and regulatory proceedings related to the restructuring of Asset Backed Commercial Paper in Canada from 2007 - 2010. This included advising the Government of Yukon on litigation and regulatory matters and conducting or overseeing court proceedings across Canada and in New York State for the financial institution.
5. Criminal Litigation
Mr. Sorochan is recognized internationally as a leading criminal lawyer. During his career he has:
(a) represented persons accused of crimes at all levels of the courts of Canada, including persons accused of murder and other serious offences, as well as complex frauds;
(b) represented persons accused of crimes in foreign jurisdictions, including defending extradition proceedings in Canada and negotiating with foreign law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities;
(c) prosecuted criminal proceedings for the Attorney General for Canada:
(I) as the standing agent for all federal prosecutions in North Vancouver;
(II) as an ad hoc prosecutor for major narcotics trafficking and conspiracy cases; and
(III) as an ad hoc prosecutor in complex bankruptcy fraud cases.
(d) prosecuted criminal proceedings for the Attorney General of British Columbia:
(I) as the standing agent for provincial prosecutions in the North Coastal region;
(II) as the prosecutor of serious criminal offences in the jury assizes of the Supreme Court of British Columbia and resulting appeals to the British Columbia Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada;
(III) as a prosecutor responsible for extradition proceedings of Canadian fugitives in foreign jurisdictions.
(e) prosecuted criminal proceedings as a Special Prosecutor appointed under the British Columbia Crown Counsel Act including:
(I) conducting the prosecution and appeals following the conviction of the police officer in charge of a lockup who failed to prevent a severe beating of a prisoner in his charge;
(II) the complex fraud prosecution of a former B.C. provincial cabinet minister and co-accused in a case that had considerable political implications;
(III) conducting the prosecution of criminal contempt of court and related proceedings against a “right to life” protestor whose actions violated the terms of court injunctions and enactments aimed at the protection of health service providers in clinics where abortions were performed.
(f) represented the Government of Yukon with respect to a forensic audit of the Dawson City mayor and a former chief administrative officer and attended to all processes relating to the filing of the forensic audit and responses to it in the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
(g) lectured internationally on all aspects of criminal law and criminal law reform;
(h) acted as a consultant to foreign governments and non-governmental organizations on criminal law reform issues; and
(i) attended the United Nations Crime Congress in Salvador Brazil in April 2010 as a delegate representing the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy.
6. Corrections Litigation and Activities
In 1973, Mr. Sorochan was counsel in a case involving the constitutional validity of certain Canadian federal sentencing provisions relating to young offenders. The case went to the Supreme Court of Canada. As a result of the court proceedings, the sentence imposed on the youth was set aside as invalid and the Government of Canada repealed the provisions of the Prisons and Reformations Act that were challenged.
As a result of his expertise in the area of corrections law, Mr. Sorochan was asked by the Legal Aid Society of British Columbia to represent numerous prisoners who were confined for lengthy periods of time in the solitary confinement unit of the British Columbia Penitentiary.
After two years of preparation and a lengthy trial, the Federal Court of Canada declared that the prisoners had been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment. This case resulted in significant changes in the prison conditions and procedures and the application of the duty to act fairly in corrections administrative proceedings.
After the conclusion of this litigation, Mr. Sorochan was instrumental in establishing a blue chip Citizens Advisory Committee for the British Columbia Penitentiary in an attempt to avoid a crisis in the prison that was clearly on the horizon. He served on that Committee for some months, but unhappily the last role that that Citizens Advisory Committee performed was to act as an intermediary to bring a riot that devastated the prison in 1976 to a peaceful conclusion without the loss of life.
7. Aboriginal Litigation and Counsel
Mr. Sorochan has provided advice on First Nations issues to government, individuals, bands, band development corporations and businesses contracting with First Nations. He has successfully represented individuals and a group of individuals in litigation relating to abuse suffered in residential schools and has facilitated reconciliation in such cases through community healing circles and less formal processes.
8. British Columbia Police Commission and R.C.M.P. Public Complaints Commission and Civilian Oversight of Police
Mr. Sorochan was appointed as Counsel to the British Columbia Police Commission when that body was created in 1975 and served as General Counsel to the Commission until July 1, 1998 when the amended Police Act was proclaimed creating the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner. The British Columbia Police Commission was the oversight body for policing in B.C. and the appeal body for police discipline hearings and the appeals of citizen complaints. Mr. Sorochan was responsible for the conduct of appeal hearings and conducted several special investigations on behalf of the Commission.
Mr. Sorochan also served as independent Counsel for the R.C.M.P. Public Complaints Commission after it was created. He was responsible for the conduct of several significant hearings into citizen complaints in the British Columbia and Yukon region, including hearings into the appropriate use of the carotid neck hold and alleged assaults of prisoners.
Mr. Sorochan was a founding Board Member of the Canadian Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (CACOLE) and served as a member of the Board of that organization for several years.
Mr. Sorochan is the author of chapter in the book “Pepper in Our Eyes: The Apec Affair” which examined the role of police in dealing with protesters at the 1997 Vancouver summit of the leaders of member nations of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation organization. The chapter authored by Mr. Sorochan “The APEC Protest, the Rule of Law, and Civilian Oversight of Canada's National Police Force” dealt with the rule of law and policing.
9. British Columbia Corrections
(now the British Columbia Criminal Justice Association)
Mr. Sorochan served as a Director and then President of the British Columbia Corrections Association.
10. Western Correctional Association
Mr. Sorochan served on the Board of the Western Correctional Association, an association of corrections professionals in the Western States and B.C., as Secretary, as well as serving on various committees. He was the recipient of the association’s award for outstanding citizen contributions to corrections reform.
11. Justice Institute of British Columbia
Mr. Sorochan was a member of the founding Board of Directors of the Justice Institute of British Columbia, which was created under the British Columbia Colleges and Institutes Act. The Justice Institute is responsible for the training of police officers, prison guards, probation officers, court staff, fire and ambulance personnel and others involved in the justice system.
12. Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Law,
University of British Columbia
and Legal Education Activities
For eight years until 1989, Mr. Sorochan was an Adjunct Professor with the Faculty of Law of the University of British Columbia and taught part-time at the law school.
Mr. Sorochan is a frequent lecturer in Canada and abroad on a wide-ranging spectrum of legal topics including administrative law processes, legal ethics, money-laundering, corrections law, commercial fraud, corruption, alternate dispute resolution, international commercial arbitration, cross-border securities regulation, the civilian oversight of police, construction disputes and the use of technology in complex litigation.
Mr. Sorochan continues to serve as a mentor and advisor to the UBC Law Innocence Project. As such, Mr. Sorochan meets on a regular basis to discuss the student’s assigned case and any other criminal law or practice issues that arise.
13. National Parole Board of Canada
Mr. Sorochan served for six years as a Regional Community Board member of the National Parole Board of Canada. This was a part-time appointment in which the community board members sit as voting members of parole board panels representing the community on parole applications by murderers, dangerous offenders, dangerous sexual offenders and habitual criminals.
14. Inquiry into Habitual Criminals in Canada
In 1977, Parliament abolished preventive detention of habitual criminals. After 1977 only persons who were found by the court to be dangerous offenders could be made subject to an indeterminate preventive detention sentence. However, there were numerous "old habituals" left over from the old legislation who were still subject to, in essence, a life sentence. The federal government appointed the Honourable Justice Stuart Leggatt to conduct an Inquiry to examine the case of each of the "old habituals" to determine if they met the criteria for dangerousness in the new legislation. Following the examination of each case by the Commission, in May 1984, the royal prerogative of mercy was utilized to grant a pardon to those that did not meet the criteria of dangerousness in the new legislation.
Mr. Sorochan was appointed Commission Counsel to the Inquiry. He organized and conducted hearings into all of the cases throughout Canada.
15. Royal Commission on Incarceration of Females in B.C.
Mr. Sorochan was counsel appointed by the Canadian Bar Association to represent inmates who were otherwise unrepresented in hearings of the Commission. The hearings were conducted by the Honourable Madam Justice Patricia Proudfoot.
16. Royal Commission on Social Housing in B.C.
Mr. Sorochan was counsel to the Commission and responsible for organizing and conducting hearings. The hearing addressed both policy alternatives and specific allegations and grievances of interested parties.
17. Commission of Inquiry into Prosecutorial Discretion
Mr. Sorochan was co-counsel to the Commission conducted by the former British Columbia Ombudsman, Mr. Stephen Owen, as an Inquiry Commissioner.
This Inquiry examined a specific case where it was alleged that pressure had resulted in criminal charges not proceeding against a cabinet minister as well as policy alternatives to ensure that the criminal charging process operates in the public interest and without political interference. The report of the Inquiry suggested reforms, including a panel of special prosecutors, appointed pursuant to statute, whereby a special prosecutor could be appointed to consider the laying of charges and take conduct of the prosecution in cases where the public interest requires that the prosecutor be independent from government.
The Commission’s recommendations were accepted and implemented in the British Columbia Crown Counsel Act.
18. Canadian Bar Association Consultant to the Law Reform Commission of Canada
Over a period of seven years, Mr. Sorochan served as one of six lawyers from across Canada representing the Canadian Bar Association and working with the Law Reform Commission of Canada, representatives of the judiciary, police and legal academics in redrafting the Criminal Code of Canada. This project has resulted in the Law Reform Commission of Canada issuing several reports and preparing a model Criminal Code.
19. The Uniform Law Conference of Canada
Mr. Sorochan has served as a delegate appointed by the Attorney General of British Columbia to both the Criminal and Civil Sections of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada. The Civil Section considers areas in which provincial and territorial laws would benefit from harmonization and drafts "uniform statutes", which the Section adopts and recommends for enactment. Mr. Sorochan’s work with the Civil Section was primarily in the area of international commercial arbitration. The Criminal Section considers issues regarding the implementation and reform of the Criminal Code and related statutes.
20. International Society for the Reform of the Criminal Law
As a result of his involvement with the Law Reform Commission of Canada, Mr. Sorochan became a founding member of the International Society for the Reform of the Criminal Law - an international body which studies and makes proposals for the reform of the criminal law. He has served for many years, and continues to serve, as the Treasurer of the Society and a member of the Society's Board of Directors and Management Committee. He is also a member of the Editorial Board of the Criminal Law Forum, an international peer-reviewed journal.
Mr. Sorochan has been awarded the International Society for the Reform of the Criminal Law Medal.
Mr. Sorochan was a member of a committee that led to the creation of the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy. The Centre is an independent, non-profit institute formally affiliated as an Institute with the United Nations and part of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Program. The Centre was created as a result of a partnership between the International Society for the Reform of the Criminal Law, the Faculty of Law of the University of British Columbia and the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University.
In recognition of his contributions, the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy has established a scholarship in Mr. Sorochan’s name.
21. International Commercial Arbitration Centre Task Force
Mr. Sorochan was a member of Task Force appointed by the Attorney General of British Columbia to draft legislation relating to international commercial arbitration and to establish the B.C. International Commercial Arbitration Centre.
22. B.C. Criminal Justice Review Committee
Mr. Sorochan chaired a committee for the Canadian Bar Association and drafted a submission relating to criminal justice reform on behalf of the Canadian Bar Association to a Commission studying the justice system in B.C.
23. Forensic Audit of the City of Dawson, Yukon
As a result of the Government of Yukon establishing a Forensic Audit of the City of Dawson, Mr. Sorochan was appointed to be independent counsel to the Yukon Minister of Community Services, to a Trustee appointed under the Yukon Municipal Act and to the Forensic Auditor with respect to all aspects of the forensic audit. He had responsibility for all legal aspects relating to the preparation of the report of the Forensic Auditor, the tabling of the report in the Yukon Legislative Assembly, and the organization of processes for parties affected by the report to make responses which were tabled in the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
24. The Commission of Inquiry into the Wrongful Conviction of David Milgaard
In 2004, the Government of Saskatchewan appointed the Honourable Mr. Justice Edward P. MacCallum of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench to conduct an inquiry into any and all aspects of the conduct of the investigation into the 1969 murder of 20-year-old Saskatoon nursing aide Gail Miller and the subsequent criminal proceedings resulting in the wrongful conviction of David Edgar Milgaard. The Inquiry ran from January 2005 to December 2006, sitting a total of 191 hearing days. Mr. Sorochan served as counsel to Mr. David Asper, a party to the Inquiry. Mr. Asper had served as counsel to David Edgar Milgaard during the extensive proceedings that had led to Mr. Milgaard’s exoneration after he had served 23 years in prison.
As a result of his experience with wrongful convictions, Mr. Sorochan has lectured and presented papers on the subject at conferences of the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law and at the Texas Tech School of Law. See also “Wrongful Convictions: Preventing Miscarriages of Justice, Some. Case Studies”, 41 TEX. TECH L. REV. 93, 112–13 (2008).
- AV rated in Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review
- Listed in Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory of leading lawyers - Litigation, Securities
- Listed in Best Lawyers® in Canada – Securites and Corporate and Commercial Litigation, 2013-2014, 2014-2015
- Recipient, CBABC George A Goyer QC Memorial Award for Distinguished Service, 2013
- Recipient, CBABC Harry Rankin QC Pro Bono Award, 2013
- Recipient, Lexpert Zenith Award honouring "Leadership through Change", 2012
- International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law Medal
- International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy award of a scholarship in his name.
Mr. Sorochan has been active in youth sports activities, refereeing hockey and umpiring baseball. He has served as the president of a local minor hockey association, as a hockey league manager, the Referee-in-Chief and a member of the Board of the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association, President of the Mount Seymour Little League and a member of the Board of the regional governing body for Little League baseball. His contributions have been recognized in the granting of numerous awards.
Mr. Sorochan has also been involved for many years in wide-ranging community activities in the areas of crime prevention, victim-offender reconciliation and corrections.