Legal Feeds Blog
Law Society of B.C. changes rules to make legal assistance more affordable, The Globe and Mail
Justice minister to review 'unconstitutional' drunk driving law, Vancouver Sun
Canada's human smuggling law 'unnecessarily broad': B.C. Supreme Court, The National Post
NY state first to adopt gun law changes in wake of Conneticut school shooting, Reuters
Chiefs linebacker 'legally drunk' when he killed girlfriend, himself, Reuters
Court orders Pakistan PM's arrest, country's turmoil deepens, Reuters
Egyptian lawyer sentenced by Saudi court to prison, lashes, Reuters
|Melanie Aitken will head up Bennett Jones’ new Washington, D.C., office.|
Aitken, who stepped down from the Competition Bureau last September, three years into her five-year term, was a partner at Bennett Jones when she first went to the Competition Bureau in 2005. She was appointed commissioner in 2009 and became the face of the bureau’s enforcement agenda on a range of matters, many involving consumer-focused issues such as Visa/Mastercard’s loyalty card program and the real estate industry’s Multiple Listing Service.
Now living stateside, Aitken will manage the law firm’s Washington office and serve as co-chairwoman of its antitrust and competition practice, advising Canadian and foreign clients on issues arising for those carrying on business or investing in Canada.
While she has chosen to live in Washington for personal reasons, Aitken says she hopes working from the U.S. office will also translate into a good opportunity to further the firm’s cross border business and her career.
“I think it’s exciting because it allows a Canadian antitrust lawyer to have an even more interesting job,” says Aitken. “There’s going to be a client need that I hope we can satisfy with this foundation of the Bennett Jones group. For me it does accommodate my personal circumstances, but I think it’s a really exciting opportunity too and I’m thrilled.”
During her time at the bureau, Aitken played a leading role fostering co-operation among enforcement authorities around the world through an active role in the International Competition Network and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
While she stepped down from her position as commissioner two years early, she says she did so feeling she had accomplished what she originally set out to do.
“When I took the job I had already been in Ottawa for four years and I thought I had very clear instructions from Parliament in terms of what they wanted me to do in leading the bureau to a place where enforcement was a big part of what we did and the discipline that comes along with that,” she says.
“I felt after three-and-a-half years we had achieved a lot of what we had set out to do in terms of reinvigorating the enforcement will at the bureau, and it was time for personal reasons and time for the institution to move forward under new leadership. I hope they stay the course but also take it forward.”
|Chief Justice Robert Bauman stresses counsel 'must be available to proceed on short notice during the assize week' for the pilot project to work.|
“It’s certainly been a problem getting dates,” says Michael Dew, a Vancouver civil litigator.
At times, Dew claims to have had problems booking long chambers dates from an increasing amount of lawyers seeking appointments at the same time.
“This is a good example of our court taking some initiative to solve a problem, and I hope that counsel will take advantage of it,” says Dean Crawford, a civil litigator and vice president of the Canadian Bar Association British Columbia branch.
For Crawford, the former method for chambers applications is “frustrating for both clients and lawyers” who have prepared for a hearing and arrive at the court “only to learn that you’re not going to be able to proceed.”
In a press release from the Supreme Court of B.C., Chief Justice Robert Bauman said although the project is designed to improve matters, it can not “guarantee that every member on the assize list will be heard” and counsel “must be available to proceed on short notice during the assize week.”
“Like many things, this is an initiative where it’s going to require the co-operation of counsel to get things done efficiently for their clients,” says Crawford. “So it would be my hope that counsel will do that, and take advantage of this to their own benefit.”
“I think it will allow parties more certainty about getting before the court,“ says Dennis Hori, civil litigator and president of the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia.
Hori mainly practises in Kamloops, B.C., and claims that Kamloops currently has a similar system to the proposed pilot project that works “quite well.”
Although supportive of the new pilot project, Dew believes the current process for short chambers applications could also be improved. From an oversupply of lawyers waiting to be addressed in short chambers proceedings, Dew says this is a “serious problem” that needs to be improved through a program similar to the new pilot project.
The oversupply came shortly after a new set of Supreme Court Civil Rules were implemented in July 2010 for governing civil proceedings in the British Columbia Supreme Court. Several changes were made to chambers procedures, requiring applications to be filed and have a hearing date scheduled once submitted, instead of a hearing date scheduled after an application was responded to.
About a year after the new policies were in place, the CBA-BC conducted a survey of its members to analyze how practising lawyers found the new policies.
Roughly 55 per cent of survey members either strongly disagreed or disagreed with the new system, while about 50 per cent preferred the old method for chambers applications. About 55 per cent of participants also claimed to have most of their applications rescheduled from their original date.
According to the CBA-BC, changes to the chambers procedures provoked a large number of comments from lawyers. One survey participant claimed “chambers seems to be busier and a higher chance of getting bumped than was the case under the old rules.”
A survey participant also stated the “new system seems to have created a backlog of chambers applications in Vancouver.”
However in order to be placed on the new assize list, applications must require more than two hours, and be less than two days for hearing. Other criteria include approval from all parties involved, as well as an open availability for three days within a scheduled five-day assize week.
Beginning this month, the pilot projects hearing dates are scheduled for six weeks throughout the year, with the last available date scheduled for May 6.
According to Crawford, under the normal process openings wouldn’t be available until May at the earliest.
“A two-week wait as opposed to a four-month wait is quite preferable,” says Crawford, who notes although the chambers application process was formerly a problem, he believes that this pilot project is a “good step to try address it.”
Update 2:50 pm: Comments from Dennis Hori added.
- Judge says prosecutors failed to meet burden of proof
Former chief executive Frank Dunn, former chief financial officer Douglas Beatty, and former controller Michael Gollogly were found not guilty of misrepresenting Nortel’s financial results between 2000 and 2004 in a plan that prosecutors alleged brought them bonus payments while defrauding investors.
Prosecutors had charged that the accused improperly manufactured a loss in one quarter and then engineered a profit in a subsequent three-month period in order to trigger lucrative cash and stock bonuses.
But Justice Frank Marrocco said he was not satisfied the three accused had improperly accounted for accrued liability balances to misrepresent Nortel’s 2002 financial results, nor had they improperly fudged income statements in the first quarter of 2003 in order to earn a bonus.
“The accused are presumed innocent. The burden is on the prosecution. It was entirely appropriate that we go through this process to find out what happened. The burden, in my view, is not met. The charges are dismissed,” he said.
The verdict is bound to focus attention on complaints that Canada is soft on corporate crime. It came more than four years after the executives were first charged. All three had pleaded not guilty.
“We’re ecstatic with the result,” Beatty’s lawyer, Gregory Lafontaine, said after the ruling, his client smiling behind him. “It’s a great judgment, and a complete vindication of Mr. Beatty. There was no fraud at Nortel. No fraud at Nortel at all.”
Dunn's lawyer David Porter, of McCarthy Tétrault LLP said in response to the ruling: " This acquittal represents a complete vindication for Frank Dunn, and a well-reasoned rejection of the Crown's allegations. We are very pleased with this decision."
Once the equipment manufacturing arm of Canada’s biggest phone company, Nortel became a market darling in the late 1990s as the Internet revolution picked up steam and investors bet the company would make billions selling fiber optics networks.
In 2000, speculators drove the company’s shares up to the point where its market capitalization topped out around $400 billion, a full third of the entire Toronto Stock Exchange.
But the shares plunged as tech stocks fell out of favour and Nortel’s sales came up well short of analysts’ stratospheric expectations. The stock dropped more than 99 per cent by 2002, decimating investment funds.
Nortel returned to profit in 2003 after several years of losses, but the company then restated results several times, shaking investor faith in its prospects and triggering numerous investigations.
The scandal led to the firing of the three defendants in 2004.
Dunn had been Nortel’s chief financial officer before his promotion to CEO in 2001, succeeding the affable John Roth at a time when no one else wanted the job.
With the company taking heavy losses, Dunn eliminated tens of thousands of jobs, sold plants, shut business lines and slashed costs.
Nortel filed for bankruptcy protection four years ago.
Critics have long argued that Canada is soft on white-collar crime. Some high-profile cases have dragged on for years, in contrast with cases in the United States that have led to long prison sentences for corporate criminals.
In 1997, shares of Bre-X collapsed after it emerged that samples from its Busang gold deposit in Indonesia had been salted to create the impression of a massive gold strike. Despite a prosecution that dragged on until 2007, no one was convicted
Jan. 15 — Newfoundland and Labrador — Marine Services International Ltd. v. Estate of Joseph Ryan
Constitutional law: Joseph and David Ryan drowned after their fishing boat capsized. Their estates and families sued a number of defendants for negligence in the design, construction, and inspection of the boat. The defendants applied to the Workplace Health Safety and Compensation Commission, which determined the action was statute-barred. Upon judicial review, that decision was set aside and the majority of the Court of Appeal upheld the reviewing judge’s decision. There are several constitutional issues raised in this case.
Jan. 16 — British Columbia — Nishi v. Rascal Trucking Ltd.
Property law: Hans Heringa owned Rascal Trucking Ltd. and developed property with Cidalia Plavetic, who was a realtor and principal of Kismet Enterprises Ltd. In 1996, Rascal Trucking signed a five-year lease to use part of the property for a topsoil processing plant. After some complaints, the City of Nanaimo ordered the topsoil be removed. The order was not complied with so the city removed the topsoil at a cost of $110,679, which was lodged against the property as tax arrears. Plavetic stopped making mortgage payments. The CIBC foreclosed on the property in 1997 and paid the money to redeem the property from a tax sale. In 2001, a vesting order was granted with title being transferred to Edward Nishi for $237,500. Heringa helped him with the financing by advancing $110,679 and signing as covenantor. Nishi refused Heringa’s request for an ownership interest in the property. Nishi and Plavetic have lived on the property as a common law couple since 1997. Years later, Rascal Trucking sued Nishi to acquire a 50-per-cent interest in the property and a caveat was filed against the property.
Jan. 17 — Federal Court — Ezokola v. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
Immigration law: Rachidi Ekanza Ezokola was the economic adviser and second counsellor of embassy to the Permanent Mission of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the United Nations before seeking refugee protection in Canada for him, his wife, and their eight children. The Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board denied his application for refugee protection on the basis of complicity by association in war crimes and crimes against humanity that were committed by the DRC. The Federal Court allowed Ezokola’s application for judicial review and the Federal Court of Appeal allowed the appeal. The main question in this case is what is the correct legal standard for culpable complicity in international crimes?
Jan. 18 — Alberta — Pham v. R.
Criminal law: Hoang Anh Pham is a Vietnamese citizen who came to Canada under his father’s sponsorship. He was convicted of producing and possessing marijuana for the purposes of trafficking and sentenced to two years in jail. He appealed his sentence, arguing that the consequences of the sentence with respect to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act should have resulted in a reduced sentence. The Crown consented to the reduction. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The central question in this case is how should a criminal or appellate court consider the unintended or collateral consequences of a criminal sentence, particularly consequences relating to the immigration status of an offender?
Despite legal objections from the federal Crown, Ontario judge grants same-sex divorce, The Globe and Mail
Lawyer for Ikea monkey's 'mom' denies allegations Darwin was abused by his client, Toronto Star
Sentencing expected for reservist found guilty of training accident in Afghanistan, Calgary Herald
Verdict due for 12-year-old boy accused of killing neo-Nazi father, Reuters
U.S. farmers call for 'reform-minded' law at expense of $5B subsidy, Reuters
Critical witness in Berlusconi sex trial appears, lawyers request suspension until after elections, Reuters
U.N. human rights chief calls for international investigation into North Korea, Reuters
Ontario Labour Board rules elementary teachers' walkout an illegal strike in last minute decision, The National Post
Judge in Nova Scotia fines owners, spares dog after attack on child, Chronicle Herald
Ontario high school teachers call off next week's walkout following OLB ruling, The Globe and Mail
Accused Colorado gunman's lawyers not ready to enter plea, Reuters
Three members of Ohio football team accused of rape will not be charged as witnesses, testify against teammates, Reuters
Singapore's more open gov't threatens lawsuits against critics who 'go too far', Reuters
Thailand holds over 600 Rohingya migrants believed to be illegal, Reuters
|Former Quebec premier Jean Charest returns to the practice of law with McCarthys.|
“He had many options, and the fact that he wanted to work with us as much as we wanted to work with him is a testament to the leading position of our firm and our ability to attract talent who will provide insights and truly add value for our clients.”
Charest’s long experience in public policy, international affairs, and corporate Canada will add to the law firm’s capacity serve its clients, the firm said.
“In 28 years of politics, the diversity of initiatives he has led in Québec, Canada and abroad, the scale of projects he has developed, the scope of agreements he has negotiated and concluded as well as the many challenging files he has had to manage, make him a unique resource to our clients,” said Marc-André Blanchard, the firm’s chairman and CEO.
Charest was first elected to House of Commons in 1984. In nearly three decades in politics, he has severed as the minister of the Environment and of Industry, as well as minister of state for youth, and for sports.
For his part, the three-term former provincial premier said he is joining the firm with “great enthusiasm.” He described McCarthys as “the first Canadian law firm to establish a national presence and whose history is intimately linked to the development of Québec and Canada.
“My association with such a prominent business law firm is an opportunity for me to contribute to the business and economic development of Québec and Canada,” said Charest.
Also in Quebec, Miller Thomson LLP is welcoming three more lawyers to its Montreal office.
Michel La Roche, who specializes in business restructuring and finance, is joining the national firm with colleagues Michel D’Amours and Jean-Francois Gauvin.
The area of business restructuring and finance is seeing continued demand in Quebec, the firm said, adding the trio’s addition is a “strategic move.”
“The expansion of our Montréal office will extend and deepen our presence in Québec, and strengthens our footprint as a truly national law firm,” said Gerald Courage, chair of Miller Thomson in a statement.
“Our goal is to offer the broadest network of specialized local knowledge and expertise among national law firms in the country.”
Miller Thomson will move to a new and larger downtown office to accommodate the expansion.
|The Teen Legal Helpline launches in Ontario next week.|
The helpline’s main purpose is to assist teens who don’t know where to turn for legal help.
“Teens have legal questions that don’t always call for full representation,” says Matt Boulos, executive director and one of the founders of Teen Legal Helpline.
“Sometimes you just need an answer to your question so you can understand your problem and so that you can make the right decision. And that decision might be to get more help but at the very least if you don’t get that first answer, you’ll never know.”
At first, the helpline will be limited to questions in the areas of criminal, family, and immigration law, with labour and employment and housing law to be added at a later date.
Boulos says they decided to focus on those areas of law based on research they conducted with teens in Ontario, specifically in Toronto’s St. James Town and Regent Park neighbourhoods.
Boulos created the helpline after being involved in a legal situation with a teen in his youth group.
“I grew up in Scarborough, [Ont.,] I mentored kids in the same youth group that I grew up in. One of my boys had been accused of a sexual assault and he had come up to me asking me for my advice. I knew a criminal lawyer, and had the two chat. What struck me was it was an incredibly brief conversation but then [the boy] knew what he needed to do in terms of how to carry himself and understanding the process with the police and the investigation,” Boulos tells Legal Feeds.
“I just couldn’t really abide by the idea that there were going to be teens out there who were going to be in a similar position but not have the good fortune to show up at a youth group that just happened to have lawyers and people connected to the law hanging around,” he adds.
The lawyers who have signed up to volunteer for the helpline are mainly solo practitioners and lawyers from small firms, says Boulos. However, bigger law firms, including Torys LLP and Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, have provided other legal services pro bono to help Teen Legal Helpline get started.
The helpline has also been funded through a grant from the Law Foundation of Ontario and private donations, and they are in the midst of a major fundraising drive.
Boulos hopes to get the word out to teens through their relationships with community organizations and social workers. They also have youth ambassadors — teens who have started a social media campaign to spread the word to other teens.
Magnotta quiet as Montreal court lays legal groundwork for his murder trial, The Globe and Mail
Senior police leaders question use of court injunctions for Native disputes, Calgary Herald
McGuinty deems teachers' strike illegal, asks labour board to stop it, The National Post
Chief prosecutor for Guantanamo war crimes tribunal wants one charge in 9/11 case dropped, Reuters
Retired professor sentenced to life in prison for child pornography, Reuters
Lawyer for man accused of rape says Indian police 'tortured' him, Reuters
Greek lawmaker third to resign over tax list scandal, Reuters
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Gail J. Cohen