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Trinity Western University (TWU) Accreditation

Appeal Update June 6, 2016: Quick Facts

  • The Law Society presented its case today in the Court of Appeal regarding Trinity Western University. The university is appealing the Divisional Court’s July 2, 2015 dismissal of the Law Society’s governing body’s decision not to accredit TWU’s proposed law school.
  • Convocation voted against accreditation of the law school in April 2014, because TWU’s Community Covenant Agreement would deny equity-seeking groups equal access to the Law Society’s licensing process — and unequal access is contrary to the public interest. The covenant, which all TWU students, faculty and staff are required to sign and abide by, requires them, among other things, to “voluntarily abstain from … sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.” 
  • In May 2014, TWU applied for a judicial review of Convocation’s decision, challenging the Law Society’s jurisdiction and claiming that the decision was not correct or reasonable.
  • In its July 2, 2015 decision, the Divisional Court dismissed the university’s application for review — confirming the Law Society’s jurisdiction to act as it did and determining that Convocation’s decision was a reasonable one.
  • TWU applied for and was granted leave to appeal the Divisional Court’s decision in The Court of Appeal for Ontario.
  • The Law Society’s position is outlined in its February 1, 2016 factum. The document points out that the Law Society has clear authority over admission to the legal profession, including admission to prerequisite legal education. It also points out that TWU’s Community Covenant is discriminatory.

Scroll down for further background information.

Court dismisses judicial review

In a decision released July 2, 2015, the Divisional Court dismissed the application of Trinity Western University (TWU) for a judicial review of the Law Society’s decision to deny accreditation of TWU’s proposed law school.

Treasurer’s statement


Judicial Review

On May 26, 2014, Trinity Western University (“TWU”) and Brayden Volkenant commenced an application for judicial review of the decision of The Law Society of Upper Canada (“LSUC”) to refuse to accredit TWU’s proposed school of law. On July 8, 2014, a case conference was held before Justice Nordheimer of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, following which a Notice to the Public was issued containing information on interventions in the application. 

Notice to the public re: interventions plus Application

Questions about the Notice should be directed to Ms. Elliot Spears, General Counsel, at or 416-947-5251. The Law Society of Upper Canada is represented on the application for judicial review by external counsel:

Guy J. Pratte
Nadia Effendi
Duncan Ault

External counsel may be contacted at:

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
1100 - 100 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 1J9

(613) 237-5160
(613) 230-8842 (fax)  

Convocation Decision

View archived video of Convocation's April 10 and April 24 sessions.

Convocation, the governing board of The Law Society of Upper Canada, has voted against the accreditation of a proposed new law school at Trinity Western University (TWU) in British Columbia.

TWU received preliminary approval for its proposed program from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada's Approval Committee. The British Columbia government also approved the TWU application. Under Law Society By-law 4, the Law Society considered and decided on the accreditation of TWU with respect to graduates of TWU who would have practised law in Ontario.

At Convocation's April 10 session, members of Convocation discussed the TWU application and spoke to various issues raised in the submissions received by the Law Society over the past month. No vote was taken at this meeting. On April 24th, further discussions took place, after which Convocation voted on this question:

 Given that the Federation Approval Committee has provided preliminary approval to the TWU law program in accordance with processes Convocation approved in 2010 respecting the national requirement and in 2011 respecting the approval of law school academic requirements, should the Law Society of Upper Canada now accredit TWU pursuant to section 7 of By-Law 4?

Convocation voted to reject the accreditation of TWU by a vote of 28 to 21 with one abstention, following two days of debate, which were webcast to the public and the profession.

To maintain an open and transparent decision-making process, members of the profession and the public were invited to view the proceedings of Convocation on both days, either in person at the Law Society or online.

Treasurer's Statement
Trinity Western University Submission

Background Materials:

Law Society of Upper Canada
Transcripts, References and Archived Video

Treasurer's Statement

Treasurer's statement to Convocation

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Trinity Western University Submission

April 2, 2014
Written Submission for the Consideration of Convocation in Relation to the Matter of the Accreditation of the TWU School of Law (PDF, 25Mb)

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Law Society of Upper Canada

National Requirement and Approval Committee Report

Inter-Jurisdictional Mobility Report

Issues Relating to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms  

Issues Relating to Discretionary Decision-Making and the Law Society's Public Interest Mandate  

Issues Relating to the Ontario Human Rights Code  

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Transcripts, References and Archived Video

Transcript: Convocation, April 10, 2014

Cases referenced at April 10, 2014 Convocation

Archived video:

Reply submission of Trinity Western University to the Law Society of Upper Canada

Transcript: Convocation, April 24, 2014

Archived video:

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Terms or Concepts Explained