Besides undertaking projects aimed at improving access to justice in Nova Scotia, the task of the Institute, like its predecessor the Law Reform Commission, will include projects which study existing laws and review their appropriateness through research and discussions with the public. The Institute’s Reports and recommendations will be presented to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Nova Scotia. The Reports of the Commission are freely available to the public on this site.
The Commission has published papers and reports in a variety of areas, including enforcement of family maintenance obligations, adult guardianship and living wills, the jury system, probate, mental health law, builders liens, vexatious litigants, grandparent/grandchild access, contaminated sites, trusts law (the rule against perpetuities), and human rights law (seniors-only housing). The Commission was one of the lead partners in the development of Nova Scotia's Civil Procedure Rules, which govern the process of litigation in Nova Scotia's courts.
The Commission's projects have covered a broad range of social and legal issues. Any person may suggest a law reform project to the Institute. A number of the Commission's projects have arisen from requests (references) from the Government of Nova Scotia. Others are undertaken in collaboration with other stakeholders in the Nova Scotia justice system.
The Institute is currently reviewing the Intestate Succession Act and Access to Justice in Nova Scotia.
Robert J. Currie, President
Professor Currie was appointed to the Commission by Order in Council in January 2010. He is a Full Professor at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, and former Director of Dalhousie's Law & Technology Institute. He is a specialist in the area of international and transnational criminal law, and is the author of numerous books, articles and comments in that field. In 2008, Professor Currie was awarded the Dalhousie Law Students' Society and Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has been a member of the Nova Scotia Bar since 2000.
Justice Kevin Coady
Justice Coady was appointed to the Commission by Order in Council in December 2007. He was called to the Nova Scotia Bar in 1981, and appointed to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia in 2003. Prior to his judicial appointment, he practiced law in Nova Scotia with Coady Filliter and taught Criminal Law at Dalhousie University.
Richard J. Melanson
Mr. Melanson was appointed to the Commission by the Council of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society in September of 2012. He is a member of the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board and was a partner with the Halifax law firm of Blois, Nickerson & Bryson LLP. His areas of practice included administrative law, bankruptcy and insolvency, civil litigation, corporate & commercial, intellectual property and real estate. Mr. Melanson graduated from the Universite Sainte-Anne with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in 1981, and a Bachelor of Education (Honours) in 1983. In 1988 he graduated from Dalhousie Law School as Gold Medalist. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the provincial association of French speaking lawyers and has served as a volunteer with various organizations over the years. He has been a member of the Board of Examiners of Nova Scotia Social Workers' Association and chair of the Discipline Committee, a member of the Agreement on Internal Trade Working Group and Director and Treasurer of Canadian Parents for French - Nova Scotia.
Catherine D.A. Watson Coles
Ms. Watson was appointed to the Commission by Order in Council in February 2015. She is a Partner in McInnes Cooper's Halifax office and leader of the firm's regional estates and trusts service group. She is a regular speaker on the subjects of estate trust and tax planning to various professional organizations and the public, and a frequent author of articles on these subjects in various newspapers and newsletters. She has been an instructor at the Ontario Bar Admissions course in the area of estate planning. Ms. Watson has been recognized by Best Lawyers in Canada and is listed in the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory. She is the Past President and a current member of the Halifax Estate Planning Council and is a member of the Society of Trust and Estates Practitioners, the Canadian Bar Association, the Nova Scotia Barristers Society and the International Bar Association. She is Past Chair of the Wills & Estates Section of the Canadian Bar Association of Nova Scotia and is the Co-Founder and Past Chair of the Pride Business Network in Toronto, Ontario.
Ilana Dodi Luther
Ilana joined the Commission in June 2011. She has worked for legal aid in both Ontario and Nova Scotia. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts from Carleton University, she received a Master of Arts in Political Science from York University. In 2004, she received her law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School, followed by a Master of Laws from Harvard Law School. She has taught at the Schulich School of Law on a part-time basis. In 2015, Dr. Luther obtained her Doctorate in Law from Schulich School of Law. In 2017 she took a hiatus from the Commission to work as a policy analyst for the Government of Nova Scotia. She returned to serve as Executive Director in 2018.
Access to Justice Coordinator
Ashley joined the Commission in 2018, with an established history of working in the NGO sector providing frontline supports and services to marginalized Nova Scotians. Before joining the Commission she worked as the Women’s Services Coordinator for Coverdale Courtwork Society. She has worked as a Client Support Worker for Shelter Nova Scotia and as a research assistant for a SSHRC funded project at Mount Saint Vincent University looking at the causes and consequences of breaching conditions in Nova Scotia's criminal justice system. She has been a member of the Nova Scotia Trafficking Elimination Project Advisory Committee and the Provincial Sexual Violence Strategy Steering Committee. Ashley holds a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies from Mount Saint Vincent University and a Diploma in Social Service Work from Seneca College.
William H. Charles, Q.C.
Professor Charles has acted as Special Counsel to the Commission since 2001. He is a graduate of Dalhousie (where he was Dean of Law 1979-1985), Concordia, Harvard and Michigan universities. Professor Charles was the first President of the Law Reform Commission, and held that position from 1991 to 1995. He has served on a number of Boards and Councils in Nova Scotia and continues to publish books and articles on various legal topics.
After an eight year absence, Krista rejoined the Commission on a part-time basis in June 2016. She holds the Canadian Administrative Professional (CAP) designation and is a long-standing member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals. Krista has more than 20 years of experience in the administrative field, with a focus on organizational and information management.