This month’s spotlight is on longtime CLEBC volunteer Derek A. Brindle, KC of Singleton Urquhart LLP, book author and editorial board member of BC Builders Lien Practice Manual.
When did you first get involved with CLEBC? What motivates you to continue sharing your time and expertise?
My experience as a CLEBC contributor began early in my career. I am very fortunate to have been a CLEBC publications writer and editor, as well as a presenter and conference chair in many CLEBC courses. I have also been an adjunct professor and sessional lecturer at the UBC Law School, Osgoode Hall Law School, and York University (Certificate in Construction Law) respectively. In each case, I have been rewarded in sharing legal knowledge and experiences and engaging with colleagues, law students, and members of the judiciary. Truth is, I learn by teaching and writing. By contributing in this manner to continuing legal education, I am able to share as much in the learning experience as those I am teaching.
What are you currently working on (or have most recently worked on) with CLEBC?
As the co-editor of BC Builders Lien Practice Manual with several other very knowledgeable construction lawyers, I am pleased again to be working on the next update.
What inspired you to focus your practice on construction, commercial, and insurance law?
As a former criminal law lawyer and Chair of the Law Society of BC Proceeds of Crime Sub-Committee, I have asked that same question in the past. Construction and engineering law offers generously of legal and technical knowledge-based challenges. The intersection of tort and contract law in the construction and consumer law setting is particularly fascinating for me due to the public policy issues involved. Construction law is less about bricks and mortar than the ordering and recognition of legal relationships in extremely complex undertakings.
What are some of the biggest rewards and challenges in your practice area?
The construction industry is one of the largest contributors to the Canadian economy and it engages government regulation, complex financing, multi-layered contractual matrices, interdependent expertise, evolving design and building technologies, environmental protection, building and engineering know-how, risk allocation through contracting and insurance, and the public interest. The construction law “sandbox” presents a continually changing landscape filled with challenges for the practitioner. For example, construction procurement was the setting within which the doctrinal development the Canadian law of “good faith” has evolved.
How has alternative dispute resolution impacted your practice and career?
I have been privileged to meet many lawyers in Canada and in other countries with a shared interest in construction law. As a Governor and former President of the Canadian College of Construction Lawyers, I have gained many lawyer friends that only such participation affords. My current emphasis on acting as a Construction Mediator and Arbitrator permits me to continue to grow in my practice. I enjoy the challenge of assisting parties in dispute, often involving hundreds of millions of dollars, to find solutions to complex and difficult construction law problems. Litigation has shown itself to be not without expense and uncertainty in large construction and commercial cases. The trend away from the courts to alternative dispute resolution processes now is timely and beneficial for construction claims determination. As an arbitrator, I continue to participate in the field of my long-held interest as a construction and commercial claims lawyer, without perhaps so many sleepless nights.
Other than law, what are you passionate about?
By the time of reading this, I hope many of my friends and colleagues will have had the chance to contribute to the Lawyers Benevolent Fund by attending the 16th Battle of the Bar Bands in Vancouver. As an event founder, I take pride in the work of so many individuals for making it such a great annual event, and know of the benefits the CBA Benevolent Society brings to the lives of lawyers and their families in time of need. Actually, my first Vancouver “live” performance as a singer/guitarist was on the stage of the Commodore Ballroom at the inaugural Battle of the Bar Bands.
Anything else you would like our readers to know?
Having moved to Gabriola Island and a 10-acre horse ranch, I am looking forward to completing a new home construction. I never thought I would own a tractor, but here we are: my wife, three horses, two cats, and a dog.
To conclude, I confess that I have never really thought of myself as a “volunteer”, perhaps because it implies giving more than receiving. In fact, I get so much out of volunteering that I am more a beneficiary of CLEBC than anything else. I think that’s probably true of most of my contributing colleagues.