Legal Feeds Blog
Truck carrying pigs to slaughter overturned in Burlington, Ont., Canadian Press
Canadian cleared of all attack charges by Bangladesh court, Canadian Press
Families in Ontario are getting a more inclusive legal definition.
|Nicholas Bala, a law professor at Queen’s University, says the act recognizes ‘a more complex social reality than generations ago.’|
The provincial government introduced the All Parents Are Equal Act on Sept. 29, a bill aimed at updating parentage law so all parents’ legal status is more clearly recognized. The proposed act would amend the Children’s Law Reform Act and the Vital Statistics Act, in the hopes the updates will address current legal uncertainty for parents and children.
Currently, if LGBTQ couples have a child using a surrogate or a sperm donor, whichever parent is not biologically related to the baby has to go through the court process of adopting the child.
“We have a more complex social reality than generations ago and it’s a good thing we’re getting into the 21st century on this,” says Nicholas Bala, a professor at Queen’s University Faculty of Law and an expert on issues in the justice system when it comes to families.
Bala says the act reflects a commitment by the Ontario government to have a “more progressive, more realistic vision of what constitutes parentage,” particularly when it comes to the use of increasingly sophisticated reproductive technology. The various ways people can bring a child into their lives necessitated a change to legislation, which was seen as outdated and discriminatory to LGBTQ families.
The existing laws will be updated to use gender-neutral terminology where possible, says a news release by the Ministry of the Attorney General.
The act was created in part with the influence of a private member’s bill tabled by NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo last year, and it comes after nine families launched a constitutional challenge to the existing legislation — some of which hasn’t been updated since 1978 — that was settled in June following the government’s commitment to provide all families with equal rights.
Ontario joins other provinces, such as British Columbia and Quebec, that have made updates to their parentage laws in recent years.
“All parents and their kids need to be treated equally under the law,” Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said in a statement. “The best thing for a child is to have parents who can make important decisions about their care from the minute they are born, without any legal uncertainty. There is no one way to have a family. The changes we are proposing reflect this reality.”
Bala notes this legislation recognizes the “range of possibilities” for becoming a parent, but he notes it also highlights that there’s still a lot to be done — specifically by the federal government — on regulations surrounding surrogacy.
“This is progress, but there’s a lot more to be done,” he says.
Proposed amendments to the Vital Statistics Act include rules for determining a child’s surname if there is a conflict between parents. The Children’s Law Reform Act would be updated in areas dealing with surrogacy, posthumous conception, rules of legal parentage and outline a simplified process for up to four people to be recognized as parents of a child.
The bill is currently in its second reading debate.
Suspect in death of Canadian woman arrested: Mexican officials, Canadian Press
The former executive director of the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association has joined Exigent, a global company focused on outsourcing legal solutions, and will be the sole Toronto-based employee.
|Christine Staley says in-house counsel are becoming increasingly more comfortable with technology, and that's changing how legal services are approached.|
Staley had been the executive director of the CCCA from 2014 to 2016, and was director of professional development for the organization before that.
The company says Staley's hire will help "in responding to a rapid shift in the Canadian legal market towards alternative legal service delivery models."
"There has been a lot of chatter ... for a quite a while within the in-house counsel community about doing things differently, doing more with less, finding new ways of delivering services," says Staley.
Staley says while the "industry has been a bit hesitant here in Canada" she had noted a shift recently where "people were starting to take notice of different models of different service delivery methods."
Exigent has about 400 employees worldwide, located in Australia, England, India, South Africa, and the United States.
The company has gained attention in Canada for its partnership with McCarthy Tétrault LLP, for example, on the development of a contract management solution the law firm describes as "an alternative service delivery model designed to capture commercial contract data."
Staley says a shift has happened in the last 18 months to two years.
"It started slow, it started, I think, with in-house counsel saying, 'We want our external firms to do things cheaper,' and it started that way, but it's growing and it's growing into not only do they want services to be done at a reduced cost, but they want increased value," says Staley. "And so I really think in the last year and a half, you've heard that quite strongly."
A recent survey by Corbin Partners and Taran Virtual Associates of more than 200 Canadian lawyers indicated that 40 per cent were using legal process outsourcing in their firms.
David Holme, Exigent's chief executive officer, says "the opportunities lie really in the application of different solutions."
"From my perspective, what we are seeing is in-house counsel looking for answers to problems," says Holme.
He said some big changes in the Canadian landscape include the large accounting firms "encroaching on various areas like litigation," Deloitte's acquisition of ATD Legal Services Professional Corporation and the creation of Deloitte Conduit Law LLP, and Axiom's purchase of the general counsel business of Cognition LLP, and the creation of Axiom Cognition.
"There's a confluence of different factors that [have] perhaps stimulated the opportunity to change, and allows general counsel to do things differently.
And I think that's the big deal really, it's doing things differently, not doing things cheaper," says Holme. He adds that Exigent is is working with large Toronto clients by sharing expertise around contract management and analytics.
Staley says Canada is "just primed for growth," and the role of in-house counsel includes new facets.
"First and foremost...the legal departments are being asked to do more with less, and I think that's the overarching cloud that everyone is living under, but at the same time, the role of in-house counsel is evolving quite rapidly, and no longer is in-house just supposed to be the legal adviser, but they are supposed to be a strategic business partner," she says.
"When you look at that role, they have to be able to come to the table and come to the executive with business solutions that make sense and add value to their client, to their corporation, division, whatever it might be."
In the first customs case to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada in four decades, the high court has allowed the appeal of the Attorney General of Canada in a decision of the Federal Court of Appeal overturning a decision of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal.
"This was the first time the SCC had considered a customs classification case in almost 40 years," says Jan Brongers, lead counsel for the appellant, "and the first time it had had a chance to look at customs classification law" since Canada signed on to the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System in 1988.
The respondent in the case, Igloo Vikski Inc., imported hockey gloves. Igloo Vikski Inc. later requested refunds of duties paid, claiming the goods should be reclassified. The Canada Border Services Agency classified five models of sports gloves, designed for ice hockey goaltenders, as "gloves, mittens ands and mitts" under tariff item No. 62.16 of the Convention, rejecting the respondent's position that they be classified under tariff item No. 39.26 of the Customs Tariff as "articles of plastic." The CITT dismissed the appeal by Igloo Vikski, but the Federal Court of Appeal allowed it and referred the matter back for adjudication.
"The primary issue in this appeal was the manner in which the General Rules for Interpretation of the Harmonized System in the Customs Tariff ought to be applied in the case of a composite good (i.e., a good made up of multiple materials--like textiles and plastics)," Brongers told Legal Feeds.
In its reasons for judgment, he added, the majority of the SCC confirmed that the General Rules provide that the first step in the classification exercise is to determine whether the goods fall within the description of a heading (Rule 1). If necessary, reference is then made to the supplementary classification rules (Rule 2 and following).
"These supplementary rules include the notion that composite goods can be deemed to be included within a heading even if the heading only expressly references one of the materials the good is made from (Rule 2(b)), and the notion that composite goods can sometimes be classified on the basis of which material gives the good its essential character (Rule 3(b))," Brongers says. Classification must also be done by having regard to the Explanatory Notes to the Harmonized System. In its decision, the court described this approach to interpreting the General Rules as being "hierarchical" rather than "cascading" (a term found in earlier jurisprudence written by the Federal Court of Appeal). In particular, the court accepted that Rule 1 must still be taken into account conjunctively when Rule 2(b) is applied, Brongers explained.
"Practically speaking, this means that a composite good that can only be described under one single heading must be classified under that heading."
In concluding that the CITT had misapplied the General Rules for the Interpretation of the Harmonized System, the Federal Court of Appeal misapprehended their structure, the SCC said in its decision, penned by Justice Russell Brown. Justice Suzanne Cote dissented, finding that the CITT's decision "falls well outside the range of reasonable interpretations."
Brongers described two takeaways from the judgement.
"The first was that the Supreme Court dealt with the interpretive principles to be applied to this international Convention, describing it as being a hierarchical system rather than being a cascading system."
Second, he says, it confirmed that significant deference is supposed to be given by the Federal Court of Appeal when it conducts judicial reviews of Canadian International Trade Tribunal customs classification decisions.
"So what the Supreme Court of Canada dealt with in this case, in part, is the question of, to what extent should the Federal Court of Appeal be deferential to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal`s decisions? And [the Court] confirmed that a significant amount of deference should be given to the Tribunal`s decisions."
RCMP lifts Amber Alert after two boys found in Saskatchewan, Canadian Press
NDP calls on Liberal government to rescind torture directive, Canadian Press
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