It is a fundamental principle of contract law, one which public policy favours and subject only to certain well-established and narrowly defined exceptions, that parties are free to determine for themselves the terms of contracts voluntarily entered into. Regrettably, the Supreme Court of Canada recently departed from this principle in Tercon Contractors Ltd. v. British Columbia (Transportation and Highways), thereby injecting uncertainty into the enforceability of contractual arrangements.
Every magazine and web site has a list of the top this or top that. And love or hate the lists, everybody ends up reading them and talking about them. At Canadian Lawyer, we’re no stranger to lists but for the most part we’ve not tackled the most controversial type of list: one about individual lawyers. So about 18 months or so ago, I decided to take on the task and come up with such a list. Its main characteristic, though, had to be that it was different from all other lists in the various legal publications and web sites dotting the Canadian landscape. What I realized is that most such tallies look at one particular area and don’t take into account the law as a whole: every area of practice, government, regulatory, judiciary, etc.
It is with great sadness that I sit to write my editorial for this issue. Upon arriving at work this morning, I was greeted with an e-mail message from a journalist colleague in Quebec notifying me that Mike King, our correspondent in Montreal, had passed away over the weekend from a brain aneurysm. He was 51.
This issue of Canadian Lawyer is all about money. Our cover story, “Good business or cheating the taxman?” takes a look at offshore financial centres, not something that is much talked about within the Canadian legal scene but which has become more and more part of the practice of business and corporate-commercial law internationally. Offshore financial centres, or offshore tax havens as they are more commonly referred to, have been the subject of heightened international scrutiny and pressure in recent years from governments in the developed world. We take a look at how Canada and Canadian companies and law firms are using the system.