Legal Feeds Blog
Year’s end invites assessment of what has past. For me, that includes reflection on the most significant developments in legal ethics over the year.
As usual, my assessment of significance isn’t one I claim to be objective or right; it is better characterized as, “things that happened in 2015 I thought were especially interesting” (with assistance from Richard Devlin, Adam Dodek, and Amy Salyzyn). Some things drop off the list that could have stayed on it; access to justice remains a crucial and unsolved problem in Canada, but fell off the list because it was more chronic than involving specific developments or discussion, at least this year. Others are on the list for the fourth consecutive year; Trinity Western’s law school was proposed in 2012, remains controversial, and law society decisions in relation to it are before several Canadian courts.
The one thing that constructing this list makes clear, however, is that the ethics and regulation of Canadian lawyers and judges remains an important and fruitful topic for our consideration: there is certainly no shortage of subject-matter.
1. Judges behaving badly
2. Trinity Western University before the courts
3. National competency standard
4. The Supreme Court on money laundering
5. Lawyer advising
6. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
7. Resignation of Quebec’s bâtonnière
8. Regulatory innovation
9. Campaigning in the LSUC election
10. Joe Groia and civility regulation
Nine lawyers were appointed to the Order of Canada this week including a former mayor of Toronto and former privacy commissioner of Canada.
Among them, four lawyers were named Officers of the Order of Canada with another five named Members.
Governor General David Johnston made the announcement of 69 new appointments Dec. 30.
Brian M. Levitt was named an Officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions to the legal and business communities. The vice-chairman of Osler Hoskin and Harcourt LLP is known as one of the leading corporate governance and M&A advisers in Canada. Levitt is a supporter of the arts and serves as chairman of the board of trustees of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. He was also appointed as chancellor of the Bishop’s University in 2013.
Richard McLaren was also named an Officer and is known for his contributions to legal education in Canada. He is a professor of law with the University of Western Ontario. He is an expert in sports law and arbitration and alternate dispute resolution.
Former Chief Justice of Manitoba Richard Scott is now an Officer of the Order of Canada for his numerous contributions to the legal community. He is also a former bencher and president of the Law Society of Manitoba.
Jennifer Stoddart was also named an Officer of the Order. The sixth Privacy Commissioner of Canada has also worked tirelessly to remove barriers to employment based on gender and cultural differences.
Joseph Z. Daigle is honoured as a Member of the Order of Canada for his contributions as a jurist and lawyer including his hand in increasing access to justice. Richard Tingley, a retired lawyer who — during his career — has practised before all courts of New Brunswick and the Supreme Court of Canada says Daigle's contribution is truly appreciated by the province and the francophone community in particular. Daigle is a former politician and Chief Justice of New Brunswick. He has served as a provincial court judge for seven years and is a parent to four children.
Recently retired chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights commission Barbara Hall is recognized as a Member for her contributions as a Canadian lawyer, public servant, and former politician. Most notably she is the 61st mayor of Toronto serving the city between the years of 1994 and 1997.
Scholar and litigator Kent Roach is now a Member of the Order of Canada. Roach is a professor and Prichard Wilson Chair in law and public policy at the University of Toronto.
Canadian lawyer Morris Rosenberg is also now a Member. In 2010, Rosenberg was appointed as deputy minister of foreign affairs and is currently president and CEO of the Trudeau Foundation.
Fiona Amaryllis Sampson is recognized for her commitment to human rights. Sampson is executive director of The Equality Effect, a non-profit organization that uses human rights law to transform the lives of women and girls in Africa.
Recipients will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.
Read the full list of appointees here.
Human rights lawyer Amer Mushtaq is trying to streamline access to justice for self-representing litigants going through the Ontario small claims court system with an online course he has developed.
Online course is aimed at helping self-represented individuals avoid common mistakes when it comes to the Ontario small claims court, says Amer Mushtaq.
Individuals hoping to represent themselves in a dispute — whether they are filing or responding to a claim — can take the $199 online course prior to filing or attending trial in order to understand the complex process. The video guide is broken up into steps with PowerPoint slideshow presentation addressing key issues self-representing litigants tend to face.
In the past few years, Mushtaq has become more aware of the problems potential clients have with small claims court cases.
“They want help, but they just can’t afford our firm,” he says.
After looking deeper into the issue last year, Mushtaq was surprised to learn that very little help was available online for the average individual.
“I found really nothing. There is some information from the Ministry of Attorney General, which gives you some guidance about what to do in small claims court, but nothing concrete,” he says.
And there is a whole array of topics individuals tend to find murky. Starting a claim, defending a claim, filling out the form, presenting relevant evidence, dressing appropriately in court, keeping with court decorum, and choosing the correct court location are among some of the concerns that come up, Mushtaq says.
“I’ve come across cases where clients have come to me, they have started their court action, let’s say, in Brampton and then the defendant stood up and said, ‘No you are in the wrong court, Brampton does not have a jurisdiction for this matter,’” he says, “and they are lost… they (self-representing litigants) don’t even understand that.”
It is essential for self-representing litigants to resolve that kind of issue prior to filing a claim, which undoubtedly will save them time and money
“Another common problem that people often face is, that they don’t have the right documents for the trial,” says Mushtaq.
Individuals may have a solid case, but they don’t provide the documents to prove it to the judge or to the opposing side, “and they are just hoping that they will tell their story and the judge will believe it,” he explains.
Sympathetic pleas rather than presenting the facts is yet another area of frustration for the judge that the self-represented individual may not be aware of. “You got terminated from let’s say, employment, whether you have three kids or four kids or you are single mother may not be a relevant thing for the judge,” says Mushtaq.
Finally, he says “there is no trial by ambush.” Those who self-represent often don’t realize they must present all their evidence prior to the trial rather than pull it out at a dire moment during the trial like “they see in the movies,” Mushtaq says.
Because all the evidence must be prepared and filed prior to the trial, it often costs more for a lawyer or paralegal to take on a small claims court case, rather than a superior court case.
Mushtaq says the course he developed will help save individuals money even when comparing its cost to the most modest pricing of representation.
To render services from Formative LLP, where Mushtaq is a partner — and settle as soon as possible at mediation the client will spend at least $2,500. The same service via a paralegal would cost $1,500 he says.
One of the most expensive small claims cases Mushtaq represented ended up costing the client $10,000. The figure heavily depends on the number of days of trial. “I had a small claims trial that lasted for six days and three sessions,” he notes.
Once again in 2015, Legal Feeds has brought our readers Canadian legal news stories that they won’t find anywhere else ranging from timely stories on Supreme Court of Canada decisions to judicial appointments, and even the wacky and weird. Here are the Top 10 most popular stories that ran on the blog in 2015.
- Off-duty officers punishable under court martial: SCC
- Court rules there is a limitation period for 407 ETR going after consumers
- A mass of new judicial appointments
- Sale of Hydro One could breach Electricity Act
- UNB law school in turmoil following departures
- Conditional sentence for gun crime not appropriate: judge
- Sperm is ‘property,’ rules B.C. appeal court
- Document review workers launch class action against Deloitte
- Guergis’ lawsuit against law firm one step closer to trial
- Supreme Court allows warrantless cell phone searches
The B.C. government has appointed three new Provincial Court judges to start in early 2016.
During Jamieson’s 27 years in the legal profession, he has practised in all levels of B.C. courts. After graduating in law from the University of Manitoba, Jamieson earned a master’s degree from the University of British Columbia. His career has included research, teaching and private practice. Since 2002, Jamieson has been legal officer for the office of the chief judge for the B.C. provincial court.
Lee’s legal career encompasses 24 years of experience with criminal, family, and civil litigation, as well as real estate, personal injury, and builders’ lien litigation. After receiving his law degree from UBC, he worked with a number of small- to medium-sized law firms and, since 2001, has been a lawyer with the family maintenance enforcement program in both the Provincial Court and B.C. Supreme Court.
Seagram has practised criminal law in Vancouver, the Fraser Region, Penticton, and Nelson since his graduation from the University of Victoria Faculty of Law. In addition to his career as Crown counsel, he has worked in private practice and been a member of the Mental Health Review Board. An active volunteer in his community, Seagram has been involved as a coach, referee and fundraiser for youth hockey, soccer and gymnastics clubs.
The judges will be assigned to locations determined by the chief judge to meet the needs of the court. In 2015, 15 judges have been appointed to address recent retirements and vacancies. B.C. has about 150 provincial court judges who serve more than 80 court locations.
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