Legal Feeds Blog
Photos: Gail J. Cohen
Launched in 2007, the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers has grown substantially from its first meetings in a local Toronto Chinese restaurant.
Thierry Ntumba and Mariott Gilpin from the Royal Bank of Canada join in the festivities at Hart House.
Former FACL president Jason Leung of Ridout & Maybee LLP, Jennifer Leung, Neil Kothari of RBC, and visiting National Asian Pacific American Bar Association executive member Jin Hwang of Verizon Wireless in New Jersey.
Law Society of Upper Canada Bencher Raj Anand of Weir Foulds LLP, Heydary Green managing director Michael Cochrane, and Ontario Superior Court Justice Faye McWatt.
A little light entertainment.
More members of the RBC legal team: Mahira Mohtashami and Karen Sladden.
Patrick Gervais from Blaney McMurtry LLP, and Paliare Roland’s Manpreet Dhaliwal and Gregory Ko.
Some of the organizers of the FACL gala: Rosa Kang of Bennett Gastle PC; Jazz Li from Cappell Parker LLP; Andrea Yau of Koskie Minsky LLP; Cynthia Aoki of Jones Harley LLP; and mylawbid.com founder Jeffrey Fung.
Law Society of Upper Canada benchers Linda Rothstein and Janet Minor.
Vanessa Lam of Macdonald & Partners and Landy Marr Kats LLP’s Anna Wong.
Alwin Kong of Cancer Care Ontario; Brendan Wong from Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Janet Chong from Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, and Rogers Communications’ Trung Lam.
Ontario Attorney General John Gerretsen.
Keynote speaker Justice Linda Lee Oland of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. Her advice for the crowd was: “Don’t self select out” of applying for judicial positions.
Bill 44, the civil resolution tribunal act, introduced in the provincial legislature earlier this week, promises a 60-day dispute resolution process, compared with the 12 to 18 months it can currently take for cases to wind their way through the province’s Small Claims Court.
The government claims the tribunal, planned for launch in 2013 or 2014, will cut legal fees and travel costs for parties.
“Both individuals and business owners will find this a convenient and affordable way of reaching agreements,” B.C. Attorney General Shirley Bond said in a statement. “Few people want to go to court to solve a legal dispute, which can be costly, intimidating and time consuming. A tribunal offers an innovative alternative to settling a dispute in a faster, more amicable way.”
The tribunal will be available for disputes worth up to $25,000 where both parties agree to participate, leaving open the alternative of going to court. However, the government has said the process could be mandatory for strata corporations in certain property disputes.
Strata property disputes covered by the new legislation include non-payment of fees or fines, unfair actions by strata corporations, arbitrary by-laws, and financial responsibility for repairs. Matters that affect land, such as those involving liens and phased strata plans, will continue to be heard in the supreme court, as well as other more serious matters, like the appointment of an administrator or liquidation.
Tony Gioventu, the executive director of the Condominium Home Owners’ Association of British Columbia, welcomed the government’s move.
“The introduction of the Civil Resolution Tribunal Act is the first of several steps forward in developing new dispute resolution alternatives for strata corporations” he said. “The next step will be developing the rules and regulations which are vital to the success of a tribunal. We look forward to continuing our partnership with government to ensure the establishment of a tribunal that benefits the strata community.”
According to the B.C. government, the new tribunal would progress in four stages, with participants progressing to the next stage only if they were unable to reach agreement:
- An interactive dispute resolution guide, with information, tips and templates to help the parties reach a settlement.
- Party-to-party negotiations, using online tools to make contact and exchange information, with the tribunal monitoring discussions and intervening if necessary.
- Case manager contacts the parties by phone or online to discuss the issues and attempt a facilitated settlement.
- Tribunal hearing, with a tribunal member discussing the issues with parties online, by phone, videoconference or occasionally in person, and giving a binding decision on the dispute.
Mentally ill female prisoners mistreated: report, Toronto Star
B.C. approves new rules against scrap metal theft, The Vancouver Sun
Environmental laws updated to accelerate projects: MP, Windsor Star
Lawyer charged in mortgage-fraud scheme, Reuters
Twitter refuses to hand over protester's tweets, Reuters
Interpol seeks arrest of Iraq vice president, Reuters
Mongolia dilutes draft law on foreign investment, Reuters
|Retired Qubec City judge Jacques Delisle is the first judge in Canadian history to stand trial for first-degree murder Photo: Le Soleil|
Police officers found Marie-Nicole Rainville, Delisle’s wife of almost 50 years, dead of a gunshot wound to the head on Nov. 12, 2009. It was initially reported that the 71-year-old had committed suicide after suffering a stroke in 2007 that paralyzed one side of her body and confined her to a wheelchair.
Seven months later, Delisle was arrested and charged with premeditated murder.
A court document filed by Delisle’s lawyer stated that Rainville’s life had become “unbearable” and she had “expressed a desire to end her life.”
They had two children and three grandchildren and were apparently set to go on a cruise to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in the fall of 2010.
“I don’t think he would do anything which she would not want or to harm her,” one judge, who knew the couple well, told Canadian Lawyer at the time of his arrest.
Delisle was appointed to the Quebec Superior Court in 1983 and then sat on the Quebec Court of Appeal for 15 years. He stepped down from the bench six months before Rainville’s death.
The former judge, who was a hunter, was also charged with illegal possession of a firearm, which will be addressed in a separate trial.
Delisle’s arrest shocked Quebec’s legal community. Due to the sensitivity of the case, the province took extra precautions by presenting its evidence in an in camera hearing with a judge before the arrest warrant.
By the end of Monday’s proceedings, 12 jurors had been selected. In it’s opening arguments this morning, the Crown said ballistics tests proved there was no way Rainville could have shot herself.
The trial is expected to last four weeks.
|Deloitte’s Ken Fredeen says the decision is all about resources and time.|
Deloitte signed on with ACTAC in February 2010. To date there are 11 signatories to its mission statement. Meanwhile, Legal Leaders for Diversity now has 60 general counsel as members after one year.
“Ken has indicated he is very committed to Legal Leaders for Diversity and it is a question of priorities,” says Casey. “The decision of Deloitte to withdraw is unfortunate, and a little hard to understand.”
Phebe Neely Ciulla, senior manager, Deloitte North American Financial Advisory LLC was to be a featured speaker at the conference today, but withdrew as a result of Deloitte ending its membership with ACTAC.
Casey notes that unlike ACTAC’s mission statement, Legal Leaders for Diversity doesn’t stipulate consequences for law firms that don’t demonstrate a dedication to diversity.
As part of its mission statement that signatories sign, A Call to Action requires in-house counsel to: “. . . pledge to make decisions regarding which law firms represent our companies based in significant part on the diversity performance of the firms.” It also states that, “We intend to look for opportunities to direct work to firms which are controlled by, or have a substantial number of, partners who are women or minorities.”
Finally, the mission statement stipulates, “We further intend to end or limit our relationships with firms whose performance consistently evidences a lack of meaningful interest in being diverse.”
Fredeen says the decision is all about resources and time and not about ACTAC’s mandate to hold firms more accountable to diversity initiatives. “I and Deloitte have limited time and resources. I have never just lent my name to something, rather, when I commit I give it my all,” he said when contacted by Canadian Lawyer InHouse.
“The LLD approach has always been inclusive, meaning that we see the issue of a more inclusive legal profession to be one of co-operating and working together,” says Fredeen. “We have elevated the importance of diversity to lawyers and law firms. A natural consequence will be more business. The approaches of the LLD and ACTAC are different, but I will let others determine which approach has been more successful.”
Accused N.S. navy spy to appear in court, CBC News
Judge approves Ont. blind students' abuse lawsuit, Toronto Star
Ont. appeal court allows investigation of retired officer, Toronto Star
Court reverses ruling on veterans' health care, Reuters
Woman who sold suicide kits sentenced for tax offence, Reuters
Chinese court to hear dissident artist's lawsuit, Reuters
Zimbabwe rights cases to be heard in South African courts, Reuters
In a discussion paper [http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/news/newsarchive/1205-04_ClinicLawDelivery.asp] released Friday, LAO noted a number of demographic changes that it believes Ontario’s legal clinics need to do a better job of adapting to. They include the aging of the population, growth in the working poor, changing geographic location of low-income Ontarians from city centres to the suburbs, and increasing number of aboriginal Ontarians.
“The system must respond to the growing diversity of Ontario’s population,” the report, which cites the disconnect between the existing system and changing client needs, notes.
LAO released the discussion paper as part of its contribution to the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario’s strategic planning exercise, a process aiming to chart future directions for the system. While LAO’s budget for the clinics has increased to about $70 million this year from $37 million in 1998-99, the paper raises concerns about how they’re using the money.
“The growth in the number of clients served by the clinic law delivery system has been very modest despite significant recent investments. In other words, increases in funding have not demonstrably translated into much more access to justice or better client services. As discussed in the 2010 discussion paper on administrative savings, between 1999 and 2009, LAO increased clinic funding by 57 per cent. Adjusted for inflation, this represents a 30-per-cent increase in funding while the number of assists during this period only increased 12 per cent.”
According to the report, much of the new money went to salaries and infrastructure rather than expanding services. It goes on to note that the goal should be to increase access to justice and find ways of streamlining the system through technological changes such as case management, call centres, and web-based client services.
It also says LAO will be looking at a broader transformation of the clinic system through centralized services; by examining the appropriate mix of staff among lawyers, paralegals, students, management, and administrative employees; and considering the value of bricks and mortar given the increasing clinic budgets for rent. Options, it notes, include locating clinic service providers in other agencies and public spaces.
“By co-locating staff, we could dramatically reduce the office space required to house clinic law service providers,” says the discussion paper.
The comments from LAO come as it has embarked on its own efforts in recent years to transform itself on the lines the discussion paper suggests. But while the paper hints at some criticisms of how clinics have handled funding increases, they’re likely to respond that they already run on bare-bones budgets and that the extra money they received in the last few years was largely making up for past cutbacks. Still, the paper offers some interesting suggestions for improving the system.
May 7 — Nova Scotia — Chehil v. R.
Charter of Rights and Freedoms: RCMP officers found a large stash of cocaine on Mandeep Singh Chehil when he was searched at the Halifax airport. He was charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking but the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia ruled the search violated his Charter rights and Chehil was acquitted. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and ordered a new trial.
May 8 — Nova Scotia — Annapolis County District School Board v. Marshall
Procedural law: Johnathan Marshall, 4, was playing outside his home located along a highway when he was hit by a school bus and suffered serious injuries. When he turned 19, he filed a lawsuit against the bus driver and the Annapolis County District School Board. The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia dismissed the case after the jury found no negligence on the bus driver’s part. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and ordered a new trial.
May 10 — Nova Scotia — A.B. v. Bragg Communications Inc.
Procedural law: A girl applied for a court order to require Bragg Communications Inc. to disclose the identity of the person who used a particular IP address to create a fake Facebook profile of her. She also requested to be identified by initials and ban the public from knowing the words in the fake Facebook profile. The judge granted the disclosure order but not the ban on the fake profile. The Court of Appeal upheld that decision. There is a publication ban and sealing order in the case.
At 9:45 a.m. on May 11, the SCC will also release its ruling in R. v. R.P. (Que.).
Federal judge orders deportation of Somalia refugee, National Post
Court settles Vancouver businessman's $20M estate, The Vancouver Sun
B.C. skipper faces sentencing in U.S. for drug conviction, Victoria Times-Colonist
Madoff's family sued for $255M, Reuters
Prosecutors anticipate long haul in 9-11 case, Reuters
Hezbollah suspect to be freed by Iraq court, Reuters
Israel court rejects Palestinian hunger strikers' appeal, Reuters
|Jeff Hershberg says he hopes unrepresented litigants will be directed to the new rules.|
“The new criminal rules are brief, written in plain language, and contain extensive commentary regarding their interpretation and application,” states the Ontario Court of Justice. “This reflects the reality that many accused today do not have legal counsel or are unrepresented.”
But some criminal lawyers in Toronto say the rules, while laudable, may require more effort from the court if they hope to have an impact, particularly when it comes to helping self-represented litigants in court.
“While easier to read, self-represented individuals often have trouble understanding the rules even when explained in court in as plain language as one can imagine. The court process is often a scary one for those charged with offences [who] cannot afford a lawyer and are denied legal aid for whatever reason,” says Jeff Hershberg, a criminal defence lawyer in Toronto.
“They are rarely directed to these rules and are not provided a copy in court. Hopefully, with the new rules will come new procedures for making sure self-represented individuals are made aware of them; including providing a copy of the necessary forms.”
Some of the most notable changes to the rules include a 60-day time limit before the scheduled trial date for the hearing of pre-trial matters and a requirement that parties that have decision-making authority attend judicial pre-trial. Additionally, counsel who will conduct the preliminary hearing or a designated counsel with decision-making authority must attend focus hearings. The changes also mean five new criminal rules and three new forms will replace 32 old rules and 15 forms.
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Gail J. Cohen