Robert Janes, QC

Principal

  • rjanes@jfklaw.ca
  • P 250-405-3466
  • C 250-888-5269
  • 816 - 1175 Douglas Street Victoria, BC V8W 2E1

Robert Janes practices civil litigation in the Victoria and Vancouver offices, focusing on constitutional, aboriginal and commercial litigation

Robert Janes has been a litigator for over twenty years and has extensive experience in assisting First Nations, aboriginal people and others with difficult problems needing sound strategic and legal advice.  Robert’s approach is to find practical solutions where possible, while preparing to vigorously advance his client’s interests in court where necessary.

Robert’s focus is serving the needs of First Nations, aboriginal organizations and individuals and assisting others who have difficult constitutional or public law issues.  His work in these areas builds on a broad portfolio of litigation experience in the courts across Canada, including cases in British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta, Yukon and in the Federal Courts system.  Robert has appeared for appellants and interveners in the Supreme Court of Canada.

Robert assists his clients in a wide diversity of cases including those respecting aboriginal title and rights, consultation and accommodation, environmental law and the interpretation and application of the Indian Act to bands and individuals.  Robert has also appeared in cases that have clarified the operation of British Columbia’s land title system, changed the way that prisoners are subjected to solitary confinement in Canada’s prison system and defended the rights of people and companies charged with various criminal and regulatory offences.

Robert takes pride in his ability and skill in advocating for his clients in court, but believes that he has a duty to first try to help clients find creative solutions outside of court if possible.  Because of this Robert assists clients in working to find solutions through negotiations backed up with a well designed and executed litigation strategy.  Robert advises clients involved in the British Columbia Treaty Process as well as in large regulatory processes (such as the LNG and oil sands environmental assessments and approval processes).  Assisting clients in finding solutions outside of court is an important part of helping them be ready for court and to fully appreciate their options when making what may be some of the most difficult decisions in their lives.

Originally from Newfoundland, Robert came to British Columbia first in the early 1980’s to study at Pearson College.  From there he studied across Canada until he obtained his law degree from the University of Toronto in 1991.  Robert joined the bar of Ontario in 1992 and then practiced litigation with a major national law firm until he came to British Columbia in 1998.  In 2009 Robert was part of the original group of owners who founded JFK Law Corporation and remains based in JFK’s Victoria office. Robert has been involved with a number of community organizations in Victoria, including serving on the Board of Trustees of Pearson College and the Boards of Directors of the Victoria Philharmonic Choir and the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre.  He is an active member of the Canadian Bar Association and frequently speaks on aboriginal law and law related subjects.

Practice Focus

  • Civil and constitutional litigation
  • Treaty negotiation and implementation
  • Crown consultation and accommodation
  • First Nation-Industry negotiations
  • First Nation governance matters
  • Interpretation of the Indian Act

Education

  • University of Toronto, LL.B., 1990
  • University of Toronto, M.Sc., 1988
  • Memorial University of Newfoundland, B.Sc., Hon., 1986
  • Called to the Ontario Bar, 1992
  • Called to the British Columbia Bar, 1998

 

Highlights

  • Representing First Nations at the Supreme Court of Canada fourteen times in cases at the heart of the developing law of aboriginal and treaty rights and the duty to consult.  

  • Lead counsel for the Mikisew Cree First Nation in challenging the federal government’s refusal to consult about its plans to dramatically change and limit the federal government’s environmental protection role. This case established for the first time that governments do have a duty to consult about proposed legislation.

  • Acting for the Te’mexw Treaty Association and its member First Nations in their ongoing modern land claims negotiations under the BC Treaty process. This includes advancing the nations’ claims for recognition of their Douglas Treaty Rights. The nations recently signed their Agreement in Principle.

  • Lead counsel for the Dene Tha’ First Nation in its successful challenge of the federal environmental assessment process for the Mackenzie Gas Project, which fundamentally altered the way in which governments approached consultation on environmental assessments.

  • Represented individuals, including Reynold Dickie, challenging CRA’s application of the Indian Act tax exemption. The Dickie case, in particular, significantly expanded the room for aboriginal business people to take advantage of the tax exemption.

  • Worked with Grassy Narrows First Nations from 1999 to 2014 to fight industrial logging on their traditional territory. This work led to changes in the relationship between Ontario, First Nations and the forestry sector and a major Supreme Court of Canada decision strengthening the role of the duty to consult and clarifying that both federal and provincial governments must honour and implement treaties.