- Editor's Box
At the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association’s world summit in Toronto last September, I had a chance to listen to Parag Khanna, an international relations expert and author. In his excellent book, The Second World, Khanna predicted that a combination of a youthful population, lack of economic opportunities, and political authoritarianism made North Africa and the Middle East ripe for the type of revolutions we have been witnessing over the past few months.
Canada’s image as a welcome destination for foreign investment was shaken last fall, when Industry Minister Tony Clement denied BHP Billiton Ltd.’s $38.6-billion bid for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. Last November’s refusal followed overwhelming opposition to the bid from PotashCorp’s board of directors, which called the Australian mining company’s offer “grossly inadequate” based on the company’s strong long-term growth forecast. It was not surprising to see a board take such a stance, especially when it represents an organization that produces about a quarter of the world’s potash, a key fertilizer ingredient in a world struggling to produce more food on less available land than ever before. Yet the government’s intervention raised eyebrows here and abroad. It was just the second time the Canadian government had stopped a deal using provisions of the Investment Canada Act, which, since 1985, has allowed the government to block deals valued at $299 million or more.
- Industry Spotlight
Ask lawyers in Canada’s $84-billion biotech sector what the main concern confronting them in their work is, and the answer comes down to one point from which most others flow. “It’s to ensure that there are safeguards around any intellectual property the company may have,” says John R. Rudolph, general counsel and corporate secretary for Eli Lilly Canada Inc. But that task can be made harder if a fair and egalitarian regulatory framework is not in place to uphold the safety and efficacy of products, or when that framework is burdensome or protracted.
- Law Department Management
On a February night in 2003, the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, sent its competition officials to raid the offices of an international chemical company in Manchester, England. Aided by their U.K. colleagues, they were investigating alleged anti-competitive behaviour. But when the officials stumbled on five documents — two dealing with communications with external counsel and three with the company’s Dutch general counsel — they stopped and made a judgment call. The EU officials sealed the external counsel communications in a bag, as these documents are protected by litigation privilege in the European Union, but decided the in-house communications were fair game in their investigation — a practice that was seen as valid among many of the 25-member bloc’s civil law countries.
- Labour & Employment
In recent years, Canada has experienced the mass popularity of social media — blogs, Facebook, and Twitter to name a few. Canadians are among the world’s most prolific social media users, with an estimated 48 per cent of us on Facebook. By 2014, it is projected that 68 per cent of Canadians will visit social networking sites, according to the latest reports.
- Editor's Box
Canada’s economy attracted a lot of positive press while the rest of the world lingered in recession. Foreign investors were paying attention, and they too now want a piece of the good life in a rules-based, free-market economy with a lot of potential, particularly in the mining, energy, and high-tech sectors.
Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. faced a relatively straightforward product liability class action in 2006. The case surrounded allegations of defective door latches in various truck models, involving some 300,000 vehicles. While it was unsurprising to see the action end up at the Ontario Superior Court, how it got there was somewhat anomalous.
|Illustration: Huan Tran|
- Industry Spotlight
Ten years ago, when Canada’s private-sector privacy law passed, e-commerce was barely hitting its stride, smartphones were still in their infancy, and hardly anyone outside of IT departments had heard of cloud computing. These days, of course, the world runs on information, with companies constantly using and transmitting data captured from customers and employees. As businesses stake out new markets around the world, those data follow, transferred to, say, a sister company in New York City or a third-party service provider in Bangalore, India.