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Editorial: Sunlight needed

“Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”
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Speaker's Corner: Energy conservation: Let’s get serious

After 40 years practicing law, I have just submitted my first report as your Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, called “Conservation: Let’s Get Serious.”
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Editorial: Careful, Groia

There is no instance of a nation having benefited from prolonged warfare. So sayeth Sun Tzu, the author of the 5th-Century-BC classic The Art of War
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Editorial: Baffling reasoning

These are the only words for details that emerged in the recent Ontario Superior Court case R. v. Richards. In the case, Justice Casey Hill rightfully set aside Brandon Richards’ conviction for simple possession, stemming from a 2014 traffic stop by police. An officer had stopped Richards in his vehicle after he pulled out of a Guelph strip club one night and noticed the strong scent of pot.
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Editorial: Duty to report

Law Times reports new Law Society of Upper Canada rules will mean lawyers and paralegals must report other legal professionals whose conduct raises “substantial questions” about their honesty, trustworthiness, or competency. In my experience, people are loath to tattle on their neighbours if they must continue living next to them. It is a fundamentally human instinct to know that throwing mud on another can mean you end up getting dirty, even if you have well-placed suspicions or knowledge of wrongdoing by another. 
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Social Justice: Expert witness cross-examination conundrum

There are various strategies available to counsel in attempting to impeach an expert’s credibility. Cross-examination on the basis of prior inconsistent statements is a well-known strategy. As seen in the recent Jian Ghomeshi acquittal, this technique is a powerful weapon in attacking the credibility of any witness. Another strategy is cross-examination to establish bias, attempting to establish the witness’ partisanship.
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Editorial: Terrible trickle-down

Bureaucracy has a way of deadening the soul to the very real and very serious consequences of denying each person the right to a fair and timely court hearing.
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A Criminal Mind: Excluding ill-gotten evidence necessary

Excluding relevant evidence from a criminal trial — especially where it leads to the acquittal of a guilty accused — is never a very popular business, but it’s sometimes necessary. Section 24(2) of the Charter says the point is to avoid bringing the administration of justice into disrepute. Courts have been trying for more than 30 years to give meaning to this vacuous phrase, and provide some structure to its application.
It’s a difficult problem, since the words of s. 24(2) really only tell us that exclusion isn’t automatic, as the American exclusionary rule is reputed to be. Giving some kind of predictable structure to the analysis has been a long-term challenge for the courts at all levels.
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Labour Pains: Enforceability of termination clauses

Written employment contracts are relationship management tools. Their goal is to provide certainty of the terms of employment. If an employment contract fails to conform to the provisions of the Employment Standards Act, 2000, it will be invalidated. A recent case in point is Garreton v. Complete Innovations Inc., 2016 ONSC 1178, where the Divisional Court confirmed that a termination provision’s “potential” violation of the ESA in the future is sufficient to void it. Notably, it clarified that the termination provision’s conformity to the ESA is to be assessed as of the time the employment contract was executed and not at the time of the employee’s dismissal.
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Editorial: Stuck in the Stone Age

The unwillingness to move with the times can be extremely arrogant, self-destructive, and even plain old unreasonable.
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Speaker's Corner: Employees’ interests reign

There’s good news for some employees from the Ontario Court of Appeal. In Howard v. Benson Group Inc., the court ruled that employees under a fixed-term agreement generally do not have an obligation to mitigate their damages on a without-cause termination before the end of the term. Employees are generally entitled to damages for the unexpired portion of the term, and they can take that money and run without having to account for any re-employment income.
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Editorial: Under pressure

A recent ruling related to independent medical examinations signals tolerance by courts for biased experts may be running short.
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    Jane-Finch community gets employment law help Osgoode Hall Law School's Community Legal Aid Services Programme recently opened an employment law division for Toronto's Jane-Finch community.Phanath Im, review counsel for the division,…
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Law Times poll

A recent Court of Appeal decision acknowledged a ‘new reality’ of civil litigation in which courts are seeing a significant number of self-represented litigants. Are courts are doing a good job of addressing the needs of self-represented litigants?
Yes, judges are doing a good job of ensuring trial fairness.
No, courts have only just begun to consider the many issues surrounding self-represented litigants.