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PENALTY DECISION RESERVED IN REFUGEE CASE
The Law Society Tribunal has reserved its decision on the penalty for a Mississauga, Ont., lawyer found to have engaged in professional misconduct for failing to serve her refugee clients.

Earlier this month, the hearing division made the misconduct findings against Jaszi Erzsebet, a lawyer retained in 2011 to assist G.I., a Roma refugee claimant, and her children. After meeting with the lawyer to sign the required personal information forms for the claim, Erzsebet failed to submit them to the Immigration and Refugee Board on time, according to the decision. While Erzsebet submitted them following an abandonment hearing in May 2011, G.I. received notice that they were incomplete, the ruling written by panel chairwoman Barbara Murchie noted. In considering Erzsebet’s actions, the panel found she didn’t prepare the family’s forms and “prosecute their applications to the standards of a competent lawyer.” There was no reference, for example, to alleged domestic abuse suffered by G.I., Murchie noted.

For her part, Erzsebet disagreed that the forms were incomplete and noted it was possible to amend them later with G.I. able to expand on her story when testifying before the board. The panel, however, found she had engaged in professional misconduct that included overbilling Legal Aid Ontario for time spent on preparing the forms.

The findings follow a July 29 decision from the tribunal that dealt with the Law Society of Upper Canada’s allegations of professional misconduct in relation to her representation of eight Roma refugee families during the 2009-11 period. The panel found she had engaged in professional misconduct in that case as well.

After a hearing last week, the panel reserved its decision on the penalty.

For more, see "Another lawyer in hot water over service to refugee claimants."

NEW PARTNER AT GOWLINGS
Usman Sheikh has joined Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP as a partner in its commercial litigation and class actions groups.

Previously a lawyer at Bennett Jones LLP, Sheikh focuses on securities litigation, professional liability claims, class proceedings, and corporate commercial litigation. He advises in areas including securities enforcement, cross-border litigation, white-collar defence, shareholder activism, mergers and acquisitions disputes, and oppression remedy claims. Prior to his time at Bennett Jones, he worked as a prosecutor in the enforcement branch of the Ontario Securities Commission.

“Usman is a rising litigation star with exceptional advocacy skills and an impressive background in securities law,” said Scott Jolliffe, Gowlings’ chairman and chief executive officer.

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

Amid the growing controversy over Canada’s handling of the Syrian refugee issue, a majority of respondents think the federal government isn’t doing enough to assist people seeking to escape the troubled country. According to the poll, 62 per cent of respondents think Canada needs to significantly increase the number of government-sponsored refugees and remove barriers to private sponsorships. A further 38 per cent of participants think Canada is already doing a lot to help refugees from the Middle East, fight the Islamic State, and provide humanitarian assistance.

The poll comes as the Syrian refugee issue has risen to prominence in the federal election campaign. The Conservatives have touted their plan to bring in thousands of people from both Syria and Iraq in the next couple of years and, more recently, announced the government would match donations from Canadians for humanitarian assistance. Critics and opposition parties, however, have emphasized the need to speed up the process, remove administrative barriers, and accept more refugees.  


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LAWYER’S DISBARMENT UPHELD
The Law Society Tribunal has dismissed a lawyer’s appeal of her disbarment in a mortgage fraud case.

On Aug. 31, the appeal division considered Thelma Pushparanee Williams’ appeal of the hearing panel’s misconduct findings against her last year. In particular, she challenged the finding of knowing participation in fraud in relation to one property and argued the appropriate penalty was a one-year suspension followed by two years of supervised practice.

But in its ruling last month, the appeal division found there was “ample evidence” for the hearing panel to make a finding that Williams had knowingly participated in fraud through recklessness.

It also upheld the penalty of disbarment. “The presumptive penalty for knowing participation in mortgage fraud is revocation, and the hearing panel’s determination that there were no exceptional circumstances in this case that would justify a departure from revocation is a reasonable conclusion based on the evidence before it,” wrote Christopher Bredt for the appeal panel.

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, 56 per cent of respondents think large legal organizations such as the Canadian Bar Association and the Ontario Bar Association remain relevant to them.

The poll follows the CBA’s emphasis at its recent conference in Calgary on its Rethink efforts aimed at making the organization more relevant to lawyers.

And in assuming the presidency of the OBA recently, Ed Upenieks told Law Times that ensuring the relevance of his organization is a key priority for him as well.

While the majority of respondents said the organizations remain relevant to them, 44 per cent said they see more value in niche associations.    

TAMAN CHALLENGES FIRING BY FEDS
A week after winning the NDP nomination for Ottawa-Vanier, former federal prosecutor Emilie Taman was in Federal Court this month asking for a judicial review of the Public Service Commission of Canada’s decision this summer to fire her.

According to an article in the Ottawa Citizen, Taman’s lawyer asked the court to strike down the commission’s decision on the grounds that it “failed to balance her obligations to be a loyal and impartial public servant with her constitutional right to seek public office.”

In early July, Taman vacated her office, beginning what she called “an unauthorized leave of absence” to enter the contest for Ottawa-Vanier’s NDP nomination.

She had applied for a leave of absence last year, but the commission refused, arguing her ability to return to work after the political race would be “impaired or perceived to be impaired.” After receiving a series of warning letters, the government fired Taman weeks after she left her office. “I received I think it was three warning letters, which basically indicated that I was to return to work immediately or face termination for abandonment of position,” she says.

“I followed up by saying I don’t have an intention to abandon my position, and could you please just wait until my judicial review hearing?”

But the commission, she says, replied that “despite my representations, it had been determined that I had abandoned my position.”

The commission is declining to comment on the case given that it’s currently before the court.

The nomination battle appears to have been a tightly contested one. Although the party doesn’t release the number of votes each person received, the vote, which involved four candidates, went down to the wire with three ballots. “It was a long night,” says Taman.
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EDNEY TO SPEAK NEXT WEEK
Prominent lawyer Dennis Edney will speak at an event held by the Empire Club in Toronto next week.

As part of the event, Edney will speak about his ongoing defence of Omar Khadr, a former Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee now out on bail in Alberta. Following his remarks, Toronto Star reporter Michelle Shephard will interview Edney on stage.

The event takes place at noon on Sept. 15 at the Hilton hotel at 145 Richmond St. W. in Toronto. Edney is in Toronto for the premiere of the documentary Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr. More information on tickets is available at empireclub.org.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WEREN’T A LAWYER?
For many Canadian lawyers, business, education or fields involving science are the areas they likely would have ended up in if they hadn’t become lawyers, according to a new Robert Half Legal survey released last week.

Fifteen per cent of lawyers surveyed said they would have chosen business management or marketing careers in lieu of practising law. Careers in academia and science, technology, engineering, and math ranked second to business with each of those categories coming in at 13 per cent.

“Even if you’re content with your job, it’s important to periodically examine your career goals to assess whether your priorities or interests have changed,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal.

“Lawyers considering second careers may find that the skills, knowledge, and experience they possess are a natural fit with a variety of roles outside of the legal field.”

In response to the survey, 10 per cent of lawyers said they would have become doctors or worked in the medical field while eight per cent said they would have chosen finance and five per cent would have gone into journalism. Another five per cent said a career in public service would have been their alternative.

For six per cent of respondents, a career outside of law was entirely unimaginable as they said there was nothing else they would have done.

The biggest group of respondents, 17 per cent, had no clue what they would have done if they hadn’t gone to law school.

Those last two groups likely involve those who had always dreamed of becoming lawyers, says Gene Roberts, division director at Robert Half Legal in Toronto.

“It’s like your dream was to become an astronaut, you became an astronaut, and someone asked you, ‘What would you be if you weren’t an astronaut?’” says Roberts. “They wouldn’t know because all they thought about the entire time was, ‘I’m going to be an astronaut.’”

Ottawa criminal lawyer Michael Spratt wasn’t surprised the top alternative careers lawyers revealed in the survey included the sciences. Spratt himself chose the law over a career in paleontology after completing his undergraduate degree in biology. He says he turned down the option of four years on a submarine studying long-dead deep-sea Atlantic coral reefs to write factums instead.

“There is a lot in common between the scientific method and thinking and law,” he says, noting “submarines are way cooler than factums.”

If he weren’t a busy criminal lawyer these days, Spratt says he would play for the Toronto Blue Jays. “Or if you are talking about realistic alternative careers, I would give it all up to be a journalist or a backroom political operative in a second,” he says.

Gilbertson Davis LLP civil litigator Lee Akazaki says he and a lot of lawyers come to the profession with backgrounds in business and academia. For his part, Akazaki says he would have become an anthropologist if he weren’t a lawyer.

“I like to study people,” he says.    

OSGOODE ANNOUNCES $1M IN NEW FUNDING
Facing tuition of $23,806 this year, students at Osgoode Hall Law School are getting a boost from $1 million in new funding  aimed at increasing accessibility.

York University announced the new funding as Osgoode Hall welcomed about 300 new students this year. Half of the money will create 100 new bursaries of $5,000. The university will disburse the money over two years to mark the 50th anniversary of Osgoode Hall’s affiliation with York in 1965. The rest of the money will go toward Osgoode Hall’s new income-contingent loan program. The program covers students’ tuition with recipients agreeing to repay their loan over 10 years once they’re earning more than $80,000.

“Osgoode has made accessibility and inclusion a key and sustaining priority,” said Osgoode dean Lorne Sossin.

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, almost 66 per cent of respondents think liberalization of the legal profession is inevitable. The poll followed a recent speech by Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin at the Canadian Bar Association’s legal conference in Calgary in which she urged lawyers to embrace innovation. During her speech, McLachlin emphasized that liberalization of the legal profession is inevitable.
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FAMILY LAWYER APPOINTED TO THE BENCH
The provincial government has appointed lawyer Melanie Sager to the bench of the Ontario Court of Justice.

Sager, a lawyer called to the bar in 1995, has been a sole practitioner of family law for the past 20 years.
Her work has included acting as duty counsel and representing children as an agent for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.

Outside of court, Sager serves on the board of directors of the Scarborough Women’s Centre and has been on the board of the Family Lawyers Association. Her appointment to preside in Toronto is effective Sept. 8.

CROWN’S CIVIL CASE AGAINST FORMER LAWYER MOVES FORWARD
The Ontario Superior Court has upheld a decision allowing Crown attorney Roger Shallow to amend his civil claim against his former lawyer.

The case, Shallow v. Adair, relates to Shallow’s 2007 arrest by Toronto police, who charged him with causing a disturbance and obstruction. With the charges withdrawn 15 months later, Shallow contacted lawyer Geoffrey Adair after the Toronto Police Association issued a news release that alleged misconduct in the withdrawal of the charges. Among several causes of action considered by Adair, he said he’d issue a libel action over the news release, Shallow alleges.

Shallow claims Adair failed to follow his instructions to commence proceedings and is suing the lawyer for negligence, according to Justice Thomas Lederer’s Aug. 20 ruling in the case. None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Lederer’s endorsement dealt with Adair and his law firm’s appeal of a master’s order allowing Shallow to amend his statement of claim. According to the defendants, the amendments assert new claims barred by the expiration of the two-year limitation period. In particular, the amended claim includes references to Adair’s alleged failure to launch proceedings with respect to defamation, a cause of action the defendants suggested the original claim didn’t identify.

In considering Adair’s appeal, Lederer found that a reference to a defamation action appeared in several paragraphs of the original statement of claim. “The Statement of Claim may be neither ‘perfect’ nor ‘artful’ . . . but I have no difficulty in finding that the material facts necessary to demonstrate the basis for a claim for negligence for the failure to commence an action for whatever wrongs are said to have arisen from the actions of the police on October 6, 2007 or publication of the news release on January 8, 2009 were present and pleaded,” wrote Lederer in dismissing the appeal.

Shallow’s original arrest has sparked a number of developments, including an apology to him earlier this year by the police association over the news release. He has alleged police improperly searched him because of his race.

POLL RESULTS    
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, a narrow majority of respondents believe artificial intelligence is good for lawyers. About 52 per cent of them agreed it represents an opportunity given the new types of work created, while the remainder felt it’s a threat as the overall amount of work for lawyers goes down.

The poll followed a session on artificial intelligence at the recent Canadian Bar Association legal conference in Calgary at which a panel discussed the potential role of automation in legal services. One panellist advised lawyers to get an early start on using artificial intelligence in order to get a competitive advantage, while another, Prof. Ian Kerr, emphasized that there are some tasks that are inappropriate for automation.

FINKELSTEIN ORDERED TO PAY $450K PENALTY
A panel of the Ontario Securities Commission has ordered former Davies Ward Phillips and Vineberg LLP lawyer Mitchell Finkelstein to pay $450,000 in administrative penalties and $125,000 in costs after finding him guilty of insider tipping on three different occasions.

As part of the penalty issued last week, Finkelstein also received a 10-year ban on trading and acquiring securities with the exception of doing so for select registered accounts.

In March, an OSC panel found Finkelstein had tipped his friend, an investment adviser at CIBC, about impending takeover deals. That friend, Paul Azeff, then purchased shares associated with those deals and recommended his friends and family do the same, the commission found.

“As the instigator of the subsequent insider trading by others in disregard of his duties of confidentiality and of the high standard of probity towards the capital markets expected of a mergers and acquisitions lawyer, Finkelstein’s transgressions must be considered to be at the upper end of severity,” wrote commissioners Alan Lenczner and AnneMarie Ryan.

In Finkelstein’s case, OSC enforcement staff had sought a lifetime trading ban, a lifetime exclusion as a director and officer of a reporting issuer, and an administrative penalty in the amount of $1.5 million.
Media reported Finkelstein’s lawyer, Gordon Capern, as saying his client plans to appeal the OSC panel’s findings as well as the sanctions.
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NEW JUDGES APPOINTED
The provincial government has appointed two new judges to the Ontario Court of Justice.

The new judges, whose appointments are effective Aug. 26, will preside in Kitchener, Ont.

The first is Craig Parry, who was called to the bar in 1998 and has been a sole practitioner in Kitchener for 13 years. A director of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association for the Waterloo Region since 2008, Parry primarily practised criminal law but also dealt with family and civil matters.

Also appointed to the bench is Melanie Sopinka, who has been an assistant Crown attorney for the last 14 years. Before joining the Ministry of the Attorney General, she served as litigation counsel at the Ontario Securities Commission.

LAWYERS HONOURED BY OUT ON BAY STREET
A few lawyers are among those recognized by Out on Bay Street as part of its Leaders to be Proud of Awards.

The awards recognize achievements or service in Canada’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and ally community. Lawyers honoured by the organization include Brad Berg, a partner at Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, and Aird & Berlis LLP counsel Angela Swan. Both received the professional leadership award.

Receiving the emerging leader award is Angela Chaisson of Ruby & Shiller. Out on Bay Street will recognize the recipients at an awards reception on Sept. 17 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

NEW RULING IN GUERGIS LITIGATION
The litigation involving former MP Helena Guergis against Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, lawyer Arthur Hamilton, a former Conservative colleague, and a private investigator continues with the Superior Court rejecting the law firm’s attempt to strike parts of the plaintiff’s amended statement of claim.

In an Aug. 4 ruling, the court considered Hamilton and the law firm’s move to strike several paragraphs of the new pleading they alleged weren’t consistent with an earlier ruling or tenable at law. Among other things, Guergis alleges Hamilton breached his duties to her when he acted to undermine her efforts to return to the Conservative caucus. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

In deciding the matter, Justice Charles Hackland found certain issues with Guergis’ pleading but he allowed her to amend it.

BLAKES LAWYER JOINS CORPORATE BOUTIQUE
Jillian Swartz has left Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP to join corporate law boutique Allen McDonald LLP.
The firm, now called Allen McDonald Swartz LLP, focuses on corporate law, capital markets transactions, and securities law. Swartz had practised at Blakes for almost 20 years.

“Jillian’s going to be an outstanding addition to our team, not only because of her years of experience, but also because of her enthusiasm, entrepreneurial spirit, and true dedication to her clients. We are thrilled for this new phase in our partnership and especially for the enhanced scope of expertise this will bring to our clients,” said Jennifer Allen, a partner at the firm.

NEW OSC VICE CHAIRMAN NAMED
The Ontario Securities Commission has tapped Norton Rose Fulbright’s Grant Vingoe to serve as a vice chairman of the regulator.

Vingoe, a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School, has worked as a partner at international law firms in Toronto and New York, most recently with Norton Rose Fulbright.

“Grant’s extensive experience as a leader on cross-border securities initiatives, along with his strong background in corporate governance and regulatory policy, make him the ideal candidate,” said OSC chairman Howard Wetston.

LSUC DISCIPLINARY MATTERS
A Toronto lawyer will get a new hearing after successfully appealing the Law Society Tribunal’s findings of professional misconduct.

Michael Andrew Osborne, a lawyer previously disbarred by a hearing panel, challenged the findings that he had knowingly participated in fraud in relation to 11 real estate transactions in 2003 and 2004. In his appeal, he argued he was neither wilfully blind nor reckless as to their fraudulent nature and that, despite being aware of some unusual features, believed they were bona fide, according to the appeal division’s Aug. 13 ruling.

In granting a new hearing, the appeal division found that while the transactions were fraudulent, Osborne’s state of mind “was far more contentious.” It also found some instances of misapprehension of the testimony and evidence by the hearing panel in the case.

In other tribunal rulings, a hearing panel has disbarred lawyer James William Scott.

According to the Aug. 12 reasons for decision and findings on penalty, Scott had failed to co-operate with and respond to two investigations by the Law Society of Upper Canada. Among other things, the hearing panel found he had failed to serve a client and misappropriated funds held in trust. In disbarring Scott, the hearing panel noted his previous discipline history and found him ungovernable. It also ordered him to pay more than $13,000 in costs. The lawyer had failed to participate in the hearing, the panel noted.

In another case, this one before the Divisional Court, lawyer Roderick John Byrnes has lost his appeal of his disbarment.

The case against Byrnes centred on his actions in a family law case and the fees he charged to his client. He appealed after a hearing panel found he had “‘churned’ the relatively simple matrimonial file” and overcharged his client for the value of the work performed. The appeal panel dismissed his appeal last year, after which Byrnes took the matter to the Divisional Court.

In his latest appeal, Byrnes raised two new issues: that the hearing panel had incorrectly placed the onus on him to disprove the allegations and had failed to fully address the issue of his credibility.

In its ruling last week, the Divisional Court dismissed his appeal. “A review of the reasons confirms that the Hearing Panel did not reverse the onus of proof,” wrote Justice Janet Wilson in considering the hearing panel’s conclusion on overcharging in the case.
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RENU MANDHANE TO LEAD HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
The provincial government has nominated Renu Mandhane as the next chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

Mandhane has been with the University of Toronto since 2008, where she serves as executive director of the international human rights program at the faculty of law. Before that, she worked as a criminal lawyer representing survivors of domestic and sexual violence and federally sentenced prisoners.

While Mandhane’s nomination is subject to review by the standing committee on government agencies, the government expects her to replace interim chief commissioner Ruth Goba in the fall.

“I am excited to work with my fellow commissioners to serve Ontarians through relevant and impactful engagement that addresses the needs of the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Mandhane.

AIRD & BERLIS SPONSORS U OF T STARTUP PROGRAM
Aird & Berlis LLP is the new sponsoring legal partner of the University of Toronto’s early-stage technology program.

The program is a 12-month incubation and acceleration program co-managed by the university and MaRS that allows selected U of T-affiliated early-stage startup companies to incorporate, use office space, receive mentorship, and access $30,000 in funding.

“We are thrilled to partner with [Aird & Berlis] and leverage their legal expertise for our startups and emerging companies,” said Kurtis Scissions, co-director of the program.

“We look forward to counselling the successful companies and individuals who graduate from UTEST, and to continue working with UTEST to build a successful growth program for early-stage entrepreneurs,” said Rebecca Kacaba, partner at Aird & Berlis and leader of the firm’s startups team.

LAW STUDENT REMEMBERED
Classmates, family, and friends are remembering Stefan Djordjevic following the death of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law student this month.

Before his death on Aug. 8, the scholar and athlete worked as a private tutor, a peer-mentor for first-year law students, and a volunteer at Downtown Legal Services. He was also a student ambassador for the Ontario Bar Association.

Outside of law school activities, Djordjevic was a varsity athlete with the University of Toronto’s water polo team.

Funeral services for Djordjevic took place on Aug. 14.

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, there’s significant opposition to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to call a more-than-two-month long federal election campaign. A whopping 85 per cent of respondents oppose the move and feel it’s a tactical ploy for the Conservative party to gain an advantage in the campaign. Only 15 per cent of respondents agree with it.

Earlier this month, Harper called the election for Oct. 19. Among his reasons for the long campaign was the need to bring political activities under common election rules given that parties were already undertaking campaign-style activities.
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OSLER OPENS VANCOUVER OFFICE
Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP is expanding with the opening of a new Vancouver office this week.

The new office will initially have three senior partners, according to the firm. “Our clients have been encouraging us to establish a presence in this increasingly important market, with its links to industries of strategic importance to us and to the U.S. and Asia, and we’re delighted to do so,” said Dale Ponder, Osler’s managing partner.

“We’re launching our office with our newest partner, and Vancouver’s technology market leader, Mark Longo, as co-chair of our emerging companies practice. Mark will be joining Tom Isaac, the leader of our aboriginal practice, and Karen Sharlow, former justice of the Federal Court of Appeal, who is a member of our market-leading national tax litigation team. We anticipate the office will grow along with the needs of our clients.”

The new office, which will open on Aug. 12, will initially focus on emerging technology companies and investors, but the firm expects it to evolve quickly.

ROBERT BELL JOINS LERNERS
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP’s Robert Bell has left the firm to join Lerners LLP as a partner.

“Rob is a highly respected senior litigation counsel. We are honoured to have him join Lerners and add strength and depth to many of our practice areas,” says Brian Grant, managing partner of Lerners in Toronto.

“Rob brings a diverse practice and a solid reputation for collegiality and professionalism. In addition to his reputation for legal excellence, he is known as a trusted adviser and mentor to many.”

A civil litigator, Bell has expertise in product liability cases, class proceedings, and complex commercial and defamation matters, according to Lerners. “I’m joining a terrific group of litigation counsel,” said Bell.

“I am looking forward to contributing at a senior level on a wide range of mandates including class action defence and commercial cases.”

SUDBURY LAWYER DISBARRED
The Law Society Tribunal has disbarred Sudbury, Ont., lawyer Helen Florentis.

Florentis’ acts of misconduct include failing to serve five clients; misleading and failing to account to a client; practising while a suspension order was in effect during July and August 2011; and advising parties and counsel that she had obtained an order to transfer a matter to Sudbury when that wasn’t the case.

According to a summary of the July 21 order, Florentis also failed to co-operate with two investigations by the Law Society of Upper Canada.

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, 49 per cent of respondents believe a recent constitutional challenge of Bill C-51 is likely to succeed.

The poll follows a July 27 story about the challenge brought before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. The challenge targets five components of Bill C-51: three sets of amendments to existing laws — the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and the Criminal Code — and two new pieces of legislation — the Secure Air Travel Act and the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act.

Only 10 per cent of respondents felt the challenge is likely to fail while the remaining participants in the poll believe the courts will uphold some aspects of the law and reject others.

CLINIC FUNDING ANNOUNCED
Legal Aid Ontario has announced new funding for legal clinics based on the needs of the particular areas they serve.

Last month, LAO announced it would provide $1.5 million in funding to support legal clinics serving areas with the highest number of people living in
poverty.

The need-based allocation of funds means that, so far, clinics such as Kensington-Bellwoods Community Legal Services in Toronto have seen no increase in funding while the Community Legal Clinic of York Region is getting a 65-per-cent boost in financial support.

The allocation strategy recognizes the inequalities in funding that have developed as poverty has shifted, said Cynthia Harper, LAO’s director general for the Toronto central district.

“Poverty has moved,” said Harper. “The money is being allocated where the greatest need is.”

In the Greater Toronto Area, that means funding will follow poverty in areas such as Scarborough, Brampton, Etobicoke, North York, and Mississauga, according to Harper.

“Some clinics were finding that they had to serve this great number of people but they didn’t have the same financial resources per low-income person,” said LAO spokeswoman Genevieve Oger.

“So legal aid has opted to increase the financial resources of clinics that have the fewest resources per low-income person.” 
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LAWYER AWARDED $1K FOR HUMAN RIGHTS BREACH
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has awarded a lawyer $1,000 in damages over a security guard’s treatment of him when he entered a mall with his service dog.

The July 16 award followed lawyer Andrew Sprague’s complaint the guard at the mall owned by RioCan Empress Walk Inc. made him wait when he tried to enter it with his dog, Flicka, in August 2014.

Sprague said he’s often questioned when going in places with his dog but is fine when he presents certification and a medical note. In this case, the guard made Sprague and his pregnant wife wait at the door for about four minutes while he purportedly sought clarification from a supervisor on what to do but instead went to an office to watch the couple on video.

“The applicant testified that during the wait, he was particularly concerned about his wife, who was 37 weeks pregnant,” wrote adjudicator Brian Cook. “She told him that she was feeling discomfort from standing as they waited.”

After waiting for four minutes, Sprague went into the mall and to the security office. After telling the supervisor the guard had prevented him from entering with his dog, he said Sprague could go in as long as it was a service animal.

As Cook noted in his decision, a key issue for Sprague was the presence of his pregnant wife. “It is thus clear that the fact that the applicant was with his very pregnant wife was an important contextual component of why the applicant felt that his human rights were infringed on August 22, 2014, and not on other occasions when he and Flicka had been stopped and delayed when entering business establishments,” wrote Cook, who went on to file a violation of the Human Rights Code.

“In considering the context of the events on August 22, 2014, I find that the applicant did experience an infringement of his Code-protected rights when he was denied entrance to the mall,” wrote Cook, who found the encounter was “not one that would be expected to result in a high amount of damages” and awarded Sprague $1,000 for injury to dignity, feelings, and self-respect.

NEW LAO FUNDING GOING WHERE NEEDED
As Legal Aid Ontario expands eligibility for legal aid, it says it will provide new funding to clinics based on the needs of the particular areas they serve.

Last week, LAO announced it will provide $1.5 million to support legal clinics serving areas with the most number of people living in poverty. The funding is on top of $2.4 million it provided to clinics for the 2014-15 fiscal year, says legal aid. It will also allow clinics to hire more staff, expand existing services or launch new services to support clients.

The need-based allocation of funds means so far clinics such as Kensington-Bellwoods Community Legal Services Toronto have seen no increase in funding, while the Community Legal Clinic of York Region is getting a 65-per-cent boost in support.   

The allocation strategy recognizes the inequalities in funding to clinics over the years as poverty changed its postal code, says Cynthia Harper, LAO’s director general for the Toronto central district.

“Poverty has moved,” says Harper. “The money is being allocated where the greatest need is.”

In the GTA, this means funding will follow poverty in areas such as Scarborough, Brampton, Etobicoke, North York, and Mississauga, according to Harper.

UPDATE ON NADARAJAH V. LAD
In an update to a case Law Times reported on in February, the Divisional Court has dismissed an appeal of Master Joan Haberman’s ruling upholding a decision to dismiss a personal injury case for delay.

Nadarajah v. Lad included an attempt to blame an articling student for delays in the matter.

Haberman was critical of comments by the plaintiff’s former counsel that it was the law firm’s practice to have articling students keep track of cases to ensure the court didn’t dismiss them for delay. The articling student had substance abuse problems, the court heard, and after resigning from the firm in March 2012, he “sadly took his own life in July 2012,” Haberman noted.

On July 20, the Divisional Court, while noting some errors by Haberman, found her reasons stood up to the standard of review when looked at in their entirety and said it would have reached the same result regardless.
“There is a preference toward having civil actions determined on their merits,” wrote Justice Anne Molloy.

“However, there is also a countervailing policy concern about the need for timeliness in the delivery of civil justice,” she added. “It is also important to uphold the Rules of Civil Procedure by which all actions are to be governed. For me, the length of the delay and the egregious conduct of plaintiff’s counsel take this matter over the top. It is one thing to allow indulgences, recognizing that mistakes get made, and to therefore alleviate the harshness of strict compliance with rigid rules. It is another thing to ignore the Rules altogether with impunity. In my view, weighing all of these factors into the balance and taking into account the competing public interest factors, the scales of justice are tipped toward the defence in this matter.”


REFUGEE APPEAL FUNDING MADE PERMANENT
Legal Aid Ontario is making permanent funding available for refugee appeals.

After previously providing assistance as a pilot project, LAO is using additional funding from the 2014 provincial budget to make it permanent. As a result, refugee applicants who have been unsuccessful at the refugee appeal division and are eligible to appeal can apply for legal aid to pursue their case. LAO will pay for up to 16 hours for the preparation of written submissions to the appeal division with up to four hours available should the case proceed to an oral hearing.

The permanent funding follows other recent improvements to refugee assistance, including changes announced in June in relation to humanitarian and compassionate applications, stay motions, and deferral requests.

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, 56 per cent of respondents feel the Ontario government isn’t doing enough to maintain and build courthouses. The poll follows a July 20 story about mould problems at the courthouse in Halton County that showed how capital spending on courthouse construction across Ontario has varied in the past few years and has been on the decline in recent provincial budgets.
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IMMIGRATION LAWYER CHARGED WITH SEX ASSAULT
The Toronto Police Service has laid three charges of sexual assault against a Toronto immigration lawyer.

On July 15, police arrested lawyer Richard Odeleye, 60, amid allegations that, on three separate occasions, he had sexually assaulted a 35-year-old woman who had visited his office in the Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue area several times. The woman had retained an immigration lawyer from December 2013 to March 2014, police said in a news release.

None of the allegations have been proven in court, and Odeleye was to appear on the charges on Thursday. In the news release, police said there may be more victims.

LFO FELLOWSHIP AWARDED
The Law Foundation of Ontario has awarded a Community Leadership in Justice fellowship to Bruce Campbell of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Campbell, executive director of the think-tank, will use the fellowship to look into the issue of regulatory failure associated with public disasters, specifically the train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Que., in 2013.

The foundation established the fellowship in 2006 to allow public-sector leaders and those dedicated to law reform or legal advocacy to spend all or part of an academic year at an Ontario law school, university or college.
In Campbell’s case, the University of Ottawa’s common and civil law sections will host him during the coming year.

“Research into regulatory negligence at this level and in such depth is rare,” said Paul Schabas, chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees.

“Mr. Campbell’s relationship with community members in Lac‐Mégantic affords him a unique opportunity to bring the voices of those affected by such disasters to the forefront and is extremely important to the furthering of access to justice and its intersection with policy work.”

EX-LAWYER’S LICENSING APPLICATION REJECTED
The Law Society Tribunal has rejected former lawyer Roland William Paskar’s application to practise law again.

In a good-character decision on July 15, the hearing division dismissed Paskar’s application for a licence to practise after the Law Society of Upper Canada allowed him to resign in 2000.

At the time, the discipline committee of Convocation found he had allowed himself to be a dupe of several individuals, practised law while suspended, and failed to produce books and records requested by the law society.

The case also included allegations of misleading a client and the court; acting without instructions; and failing to account to a client for trust funds.

In applying to practise again, Paskar said he planned to work as an employee or associate at a law firm.

Despite several character witnesses who made submissions in Paskar’s favour, the panel, chaired by Bencher Raj Anand, rejected his application. Among other things, it found he had continued to practise law in several instances despite his earlier resignation.

“Mr. Paskar’s conduct has been impeached,” wrote Bencher Barbara Murchie for the panel.

“He has not established by evidence of trustworthy persons, especially members of the profession and persons with whom he has been associated since 2000, that he is man of integrity and good character. He provided several letters of reference and three witnesses. The evidence showed that he has helped several people and is well-regarded by them, but this must be weighed against the overwhelming evidence we have heard that establishes unauthorized practice, lack of candour and integrity, and inappropriate behaviour.”

E-FILING FOR LANDLORDS, TENANTS
Applicants at the Landlord and Tenant Board can now file their cases online.

The new tool allows landlords and tenants to file the four most common applications online. They include applications about tenant rights; tenant applications about maintenance; applications to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent and to collect rent; and applications to end a tenancy. The tool guides users through a series of steps and then generates an application.

The board, which receives more than 80,000 applications a year, says users can still file paper applications.
 
POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, 53 per cent of respondents want to find a fair way to regulate ride-booking services such as Uber. A further 33 per cent say governments should do nothing and instead let market forces decide what happens to new entrants and the taxi industry. Just 13 per cent of participants felt authorities should crack down on violations under the current rules.

The poll follows vigorous debate in several cities about what to do about ride-booking services. The taxi industry has pushed for a crackdown as municipalities grapple with how to respond to new services.
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BLG TOPS PROSTATE CANCER FUNDRAISER
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP has topped the list of workplace fundraisers for Prostate Cancer Canada’s Wear Plaid for Dad campaign.

The firm raised almost $30,000 through contributions from its offices across Canada. The amount topped the $20,747 raised by second-place McCarthy Tétrault LLP.

“The committed and strongly ingrained sense of social responsibility demonstrated by the BLG team in support of the Wear Plaid for Dad campaign is that which has made BLG one of the leading pro bono firms in Canada,” said BLG partner and campaign chairman Alec Zimmerman.

Proceeds from the campaign will go toward research, advocacy, education, support, and awareness around prostate cancer.

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

The Trinity Western University issue never fails to generate significant interest and this poll was no exception.
With 667 participants, 84 per cent of them felt the Divisional Court had gotten it wrong in upholding the Law Society of Upper Canada’s decision not to accredit the university’s law school. The poll followed the court’s ruling earlier this month that dismissed the university’s application for judicial review of Convocation’s decision on the issue.

LAWYER ALLOWED TO SURRENDER LICENCE
The Law Society Tribunal has given a lawyer permission to surrender his licence after making several misconduct findings against him in relation to mortgage transactions.

The penalty followed Robert Gordon Durno’s admission to knowingly participating or assisting in mortgage fraud in relation to eight transactions between 2002 and 2004; acting for multiple parties with conflicting interests without adequate disclosure; and failing to be honest and candid in advising his lender clients.

A lawyer called to the bar in 1972, Durno was closing about 1,000 real estate transactions a year at the time of the eight transactions, according to hearing panel chairwoman Laura Donaldson’s July 3 reasons in the case. The ruling noted none of the lenders suffered losses as a result of the transactions.

While the Law Society of Upper Canada sought to disbar Durno, he suggested he should be able to surrender his licence. Among the mitigating factors the panel considered were his 40 years of practice with no prior discipline history, his expression of remorse, and the lengthy history of the proceeding.

“We are satisfied that the public interest will be protected, and its confidence in the legal profession will be preserved, if Mr. Durno is given permission to surrender rather than having his licence revoked,” wrote Donaldson.
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LINDA FUERST JOINS NORTON ROSE
Linda Fuerst has left Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP to join Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP.

Fuerst joins the firm’s Toronto office as a partner in the litigation, regulation, and investigation teams. Her experience includes working as senior counsel at the Ontario Securities Commission, where she also serves as a member of the securities proceedings advisory committee.

“Linda is a tremendous addition to our litigation and regulation and investigations teams,” said Roger Smith, Norton Rose Fulbright’s national practice head of litigation in Canada.

“She is recognized as one of the top litigation lawyers in Canada in securities litigation, class actions, and regulatory matters. Regulation is a complex and growing area and a top concern for our clients and Linda will serve them extremely well.”

STUDENT LAW CLINIC OPENS
A new legal clinic has opened with the launch of Lakehead Legal Services last week.

The service at Lakehead University that opened its doors last Monday is Ontario’s seventh student legal aid service society and the first in northern Ontario.

“We look forward to this exciting opportunity to provide our students with a dynamic, hands-on learning experience, while at the same time providing a much-needed service to the Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation communities,” said Kimberley Gagan, founding director of the clinic.

The initial services offered will cover minor criminal and Highway Traffic Act offences. Four summer students have been working since May to begin serving clients this month. Once the clinic officially opens in September, second- and third-year students at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law will be able to work at the clinic for course credits.

DENTONS U.S. MERGER TAKES EFFECT
While the big news last week was about merger activity involving Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, there were happenings on other fronts this month as well.

On July 1, Dentons completed its merger with U.S. firm McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP. The merger under the Dentons US LLP banner creates a U.S. team comprising 1,100 lawyers and professionals at 21 locations.

Leading the U.S. firm are Jeff Haidet, who served as chairman of McKenna Long, and Peter Wolfson, previously managing partner of Dentons US.

“Just in the first half of this year, we have significantly advanced our global strategy, with a unique polycentric approach that highlights the importance of being in and of communities around the world,” said global chairman Joe Andrew. “Today’s milestone further supports that strategy with an enhanced presence in the U.S.”

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, there’s big support for regulating law firms in addition to individual lawyers with 80 per cent of respondents saying they favour it. The poll follows the Law Society of Upper Canada’s move to launch a task force to look at compliance-based entity regulation.

On June 25, benchers voted to put together a task force to study and make recommendations on compliance-based entity regulation, an approach touted as being more proactive that’s already in use in Australia as well as England and Wales. The approach is attracting increasing interest in the United States and other jurisdictions. In Canada, the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society is in the process of implementing it.

Compliance-based regulation shifts the focus from responding to complaints and enforcement through discipline to setting out goals and expectations so lawyers can ensure they have the proper systems in place. The decision to look at the issue reflects the law society’s desire to keep up with changing times, according to Treasurer Janet Minor.
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ONTARIO COURT JUDGES APPOINTED
The provincial government has named two new judges of the Ontario Court of Justice as well as a case management master.

Taking a seat on the bench in Brampton, Ont., is Sonia Khemani, a lawyer called to the bar in 2001. A private practitioner specializing in child welfare litigation in Mississauga, Ont., for the past three years, she previously worked as legal counsel for the Peel Children’s Aid Society.

Also presiding in Brampton is Anthony Sullivan, a lawyer who has been a sole practitioner in Toronto practising family, immigration, and refugee law for the past 27 years.

At the Superior Court of Justice, the province has named Janet Mills a case management master. An arbitrator and mediator for the past three years, Mills was previously a registrar in bankruptcy for the Superior Court.

All of the appointments are effective today. They came as the province also announced the upcoming appointment of two regional senior judges of the Ontario Court. Justice Patrick Boucher takes on the role in the northeast region as of July 15 while Justice Joyce Elder becomes the regional senior judge for the northwest region on Aug. 12.

LEGAL FACES AMONG APPOINTMENTS TO ORDER OF CANADA
Several members of the legal profession were among those named to the Order of Canada last week.

Among those named as officers of the Order of Canada was Allen Linden, a retired judge of the Federal Court of Appeal, as well as former Quebec Court of Appeal justice Louise Otis and former Ontario associate chief justice John Morden.

The legal names among the 100 Order of Canada appointees announced last week also included Stephen Toope, a former president of the University of British Columbia who had previously served as dean of the McGill University Faculty of Law.

CLA HEAD WEIGHS IN ON LAURA LISCIO CASE
Criminal Lawyers’ Association president Anthony Moustacalis has added his voice to those reacting to the withdrawal of charges against lawyer Laura Liscio.

“I am thrilled, but not surprised, that all charges against Laura Liscio were withdrawn yesterday,” said Moustacalis following the late-June withdrawal of the charges against Liscio.

Besides commending her lawyer, Stephen Bernstein, Moustacalis also lauded the Public Prosecution Service of Canada for quickly reviewing the case and concluding there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

In February, police arrested Liscio and charged her with smuggling drugs into the courthouse in Brampton, Ont., after she delivered a change of clothing to a prisoner there. The case raised significant concern among the bar about the risks lawyers face in delivering court clothes to clients as well as the handling of Liscio’s arrest by police.

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, the majority of respondents feel it’s time to do away with street checks by police. With the Ontario government considering how to regulate the practice, also known as carding, 58 per cent of poll participants want to abolish it.

A further 38 per cent would like to find a way to regulate carding to deal with the concerns raised over the years while less than five per cent want to keep things as they are.
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MORE DETAILS ON LAWYER WHO WROTE FAKE ORDERS
A disbarred lawyer in hot water for creating fake court orders in his client’s favour must now pay $10,000 in costs to the Law Society of Upper Canada.

The Law Society Tribunal issued the costs order in its detailed reasons released on June 18 for its decision to disbar Mississauga, Ont., lawyer Brian Nicholson.

Besides ordering costs, the reasons shed more light on the facts of Nicholson’s case. According to the reasons, Nicholson misled his clients in five litigation files. The principal client, identified in Law Society of Upper Canada v. Nicholson as R.D., had become a friend of the lawyer while he was at a previous firm. In 2012, Nicholson issued a statement of claim on behalf of R.D.’s company in relation to a business dispute but never served it on the defendant or took any other steps to pursue the claim, according to panel chairwoman Susan Opler.

After Nicholson told his client the court had granted an injunction in the case, he claimed to have brought a number of contempt motions resulting in orders that the defendant pay R.D.’s company $3 million in damages as well as $3 million in fines. Over a one-year period, Nicholson “forged 13 orders or endorsements of the Superior Court or the Court of Appeal, in the names of six sitting judges,” wrote Opler.

Other litigation files included a Small Claims Court matter in which Nicholson provided R.D. with a fake statement of defence and a forged endorsement of a judge. He also told R.D. the defendant had failed to adhere to a court order and had gone to jail as a result. “This was untrue,” wrote Opler, who noted Nicholson ended up paying his client $25,000 to cover any possible award he might have recovered and reimbursement of legal fees.

In a third matter, Nicholson told R.D. he had obtained default judgment in a case alleging a breach of contract and a non-disclosure agreement. According to Opler, he admitted to his client he hadn’t taken steps in the matter.

In a fourth case, Nicholson told R.D. the other party had admitted negligence and provided him with a fake court order with the signature of a sitting judge, Opler noted.

The final case involved an aviation company in which Nicholson told the company he had brought an unopposed motion for summary judgment that resulted in an order in May 2013. The client later learned Nicholson hadn’t brought any action. Nicholson charged the client more than $3,600 for his work on an action that never began, according to Opler.

In arguing the tribunal should allow him to surrender his licence, Nicholson noted, among other things, that his actions weren’t for his personal benefit. He also noted his personal difficulties, R.D.’s “unrealistic expectations,” and his fears about a “potentially threatening situation.”

The panel, however, rejected his request to be able to surrender his licence. “The Lawyer’s misconduct profoundly breached the trust that his clients, the legal system and the public had placed in him,” wrote Opler.

“It could only threaten the public’s trust in all lawyers. The public interest, and the need for public confidence in the legal profession, demand that the Lawyer’s licence be revoked.”

For more, see "Lawyer disbarred for writing fake orders."

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, 63 per cent of respondents would like to see campaign spending limits for candidates in Law Society of Upper Canada bencher elections.

The poll follows a recent letter to the editor in Law Times from candidate Jay Chauhan in which he called for spending limits.

“The fact that there are no limits placed on campaign spending works in favour of large firms,” he wrote.
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NEW MANAGING PARTNER AT AIRD & BERLIS
Aird & Berlis LLP has a new managing partner with Steven Zakem taking on the role.

A partner at Aird & Berlis since 1993, Zakem is a member of the firm’s municipal and land-use planning group. He’s also a past chairman of the Ontario Bar Association’s municipal law section and has served on Aird & Berlis’ executive committee since 2011.

IP LAWYER HEADS TO ZURICH
Former Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh chairman John Bochnovic is leaving for a new posting in Zurich this September.

Bochnovic is taking on a new role as executive director of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property, a non-governmental organization focused on developing and improving intellectual property protection.

He was a partner at Smart & Biggar for 29 years and has served as counsel since January 2015 as well as firm chairman from 2008-14. “John has been a valued partner and leader at Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh, but this is a great opportunity for John,” said Ron Faggetter, chairman of the executive committee at Smart & Biggar.

UPDATE ON DRAM DILEMMA
A plan to get over a hurdle to the distribution of settlement funds in a high-profile class action got a cold reception from an Ontario Superior Court judge recently.

“Whatever is going on here, it does not work and whatever it is, it is not an appropriate and responsible way for the court to supervise a class proceeding,” wrote Justice Paul Perell of an arrangement reached between class counsel and Eric Letts, a lawyer representing five class members objecting to the distribution plan in Eidoo v. Infineon Technologies AG, in his June 8 reasons for the decision.

The issue followed concerns by Letts’ clients that the distribution plan breaches the Human Rights Code. While class counsel deny such a breach, they reached an arrangement to have the claims administrator include an instruction on the claims web site. It would state: “When more than one claim is filed for the same household, the claims administrator shall provide the class members with the opportunity to explain the circumstances of their claims. The claims administrator may permit a reasonable adjustment of the distribution rules in order to facilitate such claims as it considers appropriate. In doing so, the claims administrator may require reasonable proof and explanation by the class member.”

Perell, however, wasn’t happy with the proposed resolution. “The proposed instruction may or may not be adequate to address what may or may not be a problem, raised by persons who may or may not have standing to challenge the approved settlement distribution scheme, but, in any event, the Court cannot endorse whatever this is at the whim of Class Counsel and Mr. Letts and his clients without ruling on the merits of the underlying dispute,” he wrote. “The Court cannot indirectly endorse an anti-suit injunction prohibiting Mr. Letts’ clients from taking administrative proceedings that may or may not be available to them assuming that they are entitled to make claims notwithstanding the releases that are a part of the court approved settlement.”

Instead, Perell decided a motion for directions would proceed so the court could rule on the merits of the claim.

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, 72 per cent of respondents are against allowing contingency fees in family law. The poll followed a recent call by a group of family lawyers to allow contingency fees in order to make legal services more accessible to litigants. Some lawyers, however, expressed a number of concerns about ethical downsides and the practical difficulties of such a change.
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HAMILTON LAWYER DISBARRED
The Law Society Tribunal has disbarred a Hamilton, Ont., lawyer found to be ungovernable.

On June 2, the hearing division ordered the revocation of James William Scott’s licence after finding he had failed to co-operate with an investigation by the Law Society of Upper Canada; failed to serve a client by not filing an application of appointment of estate trustee with a will or not obtaining one; failing to maintain himself in a way that maintains the integrity of the profession by misleading a client; misappropriating funds given to him in trust; failing to account for money given to him in trust to prepare a statement of defence; and failing to file a compliance report within 30 days of the start of his suspension.

Besides revoking Scott’s licence, the tribunal ordered him to pay costs of $13,167.

ASSOCIATE CHIEF JUSTICE NAMED
The province has appointed a new associate chief justice of the Ontario Court of Justice.

Justice Peter DeFreitas replaces new Chief Justice Lise Maisonneuve in the role. A judge since 2008, DeFreitas has presided in Oshawa, Ont., where, according to the provincial government, he distinguished himself with various efforts related to court modernization and streamlining judicial administration.

Before becoming a judge, DeFreitas was a prosecutor working for the federal government. His new appointment was effective as of June 3.

NEW LAW ON GENETIC INFO
The federal government has introduced new legislation aimed at preventing discrimination based on genetic test results and information.

Last week, Justice Minister Peter MacKay announced the introduction of legislation that would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act, and the Privacy Act in order to offer more clarity on the law around genetic tests.

The proposed amendment to the human rights legislation, for example, would make it clear the law prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic tests, according to the government. The privacy law changes, meanwhile, would limit the collection, use, and disclosure of such information.

“We commend the government for taking an important step forward and raising the urgent need to combat genetic discrimination in Canada,” said Bev Heim-Myers, chief executive officer of the Huntington Society of Canada.

“Moving forward, it is imperative that provincial and territorial governments across Canada quickly pass complementary legislation to ensure genetic discrimination is prevented and genetic test information is protected for all Canadians across all jurisdictions.”

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

The poll suggests strong support for Omar Khadr in his legal battles with the federal government. Almost 78 per cent of participants felt the government shouldn’t proceed with its appeal of Khadr’s release on bail.

Khadr, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, has been living in Edmonton since his release last month. Federal politicians expressed disappointment at his release and the government has vowed to fight it in court.

CHANGES AT BLG
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP has announced the appointment of two new executives at the firm.

Taking on the role of chief operating officer is Rob Morris, who during his career has worked around the world and was most recently at Baker & McKenzie LLP.

Also joining the firm as chief talent officer is Phil Donnelly. Donnelly previously served as global chief people officer at White & Case LLP.   
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ALLGOOD TO JOIN DENTONS
Following his departure from the Royal Bank of Canada in April, David Allgood is making the switch to life at a law firm.

Allgood, former executive vice president and general counsel at RBC, is joining Dentons Canada LLP as counsel at the firm.

“Dentons’ core focus on diversity and inclusion, pro bono, and community service makes the firm a natural fit for me,” said Allgood.

“I look forward to working with the highly talented Dentons team and to being a part of the strategy, drive, and energy at the firm.”

Allgood, who had held the position at RBC since 2000, will join Dentons on June 15.

“We are delighted to welcome David and we look forward to working with him to bring his exceptional experience and invaluable perspective to our clients and our people,” said Elliott Portnoy, Dentons’ global chief executive officer.

FRENCH-LANGUAGE PILOT LAUNCHED
After the Ontario Court of Appeal raised significant concerns about the provision of bilingual services during a drug trial, the province is launching an effort to improve courthouse access to assistance in French in Ottawa.

On May 29, the Ministry of the Attorney General announced a pilot project to improve services for French-speaking litigants, lawyers, and others. Among other things, the program will designate French-speaking counter service representatives and set up a system to electronically advise when a client selects a French-language service ticket.

“I look forward to seeing the results of this important initiative for Ottawa’s French-speaking community,” said Ontario Chief Justice George Strathy.

“The concepts tested here will help us determine how we can continue to improve justice services for the francophone population in courts across Ontario.”

The pilot project comes as the appeal court made a strong statement about bilingual services in R. v. Munkonda last month. Besides issuing a costs order against the Crown, the appeal court also quashed the committal for trial in the case of a francophone defendant who suffered linguistic disadvantages in the proceeding.

OTTAWA LAWYER JOINS THE BENCH
The federal government has appointed a new judge of the Ontario Superior Court.

On May 29, it announced Ottawa lawyer Sylvia Corthorn would replace Justice Lynn Ratushny on the bench.

Corthorn, a lawyer at Kelly Santini LLP in Ottawa, primarily practised personal injury law, medical and dental malpractice, and insurance defence, commercial, and estate litigation. She had been a partner at the firm since 1994. She joins the bench after Ratushny elected supernumerary status on June 30, 2014.

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, 60 per cent of respondents felt the Superior Court was right to order a new trial over a paralegal’s donation to a Small Claims Court deputy judge’s cycling fundraiser.

The poll followed a ruling in Robinson v. Lepage. Nine days before the trial, deputy judge Lyon Gilbert received an undisclosed amount as a donation from Phoenix Paralegal & Advocacy Services for his cycling fundraiser in support of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

On Gilbert’s web site, paralegal Tami Cogan, who represented the respondent, had left a comment after making a donation: “A great effort for a great cause. Enjoy the ride Mr. Gilbert!”

The situation created a reasonable apprehension of bias, according to Justice Patrick Smith in his May 13 ruling in which he set aside Gilbert’s decision and ordered a new trial.   
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LAWYER HAS CHOICE WORDS FOR LSUC

A lawyer who won his appeal of a ruling revoking his licence to practise law by the Law Society Tribunal had choice words for the regulator in his bid for costs.
 
“You as an SRO currently operate as a turd,” wrote Paul Robson in a Jan. 28 letter to the appeal division.

“A stinking steaming giant hypocritically confliected (sic) turd at the intersection of Queen and Uniisity (sic).”

The letter arose in a May 22 decision from the appeal division considering Robson’s bid for costs of $750,000 for his successful appeal. In the letter, he was raising concern about a Feb. 2 deadline to file any motion seeking access to documents from the tribunal office or the law society in relation to costs. “I do not think that is fair to me or you,” he wrote in reference to the deadline.

The appeal division then sent a message extending the deadline to Feb. 16. Two days before that date, Robson sent another message saying the law society “is an accessory to murder” and noting he expected the LSUC to pay the $750,000 in costs “forthwith.”

The exchanges of communication continued, but the appeal division determined in the recent decision that it had never received the required materials. “Despite Mr. Robson’s unconventional means of seeking additional time to reply, which appeared to be dominated by vitriol directed to the Law Society, rather than submissions to the Appeal Division, we granted Mr. Robson additional time to reply. He was to serve and file his reply materials on or before April 15, 2015. He never filed any such materials. Nor did he seek a further extension of time,” wrote chairman Mark Sandler in the appeal division’s May 22 decision.

In the absence of what it was seeking, the appeal division went on to rule on the costs issue and ultimately decided against awarding costs in either the hearing or the appeal. “The Law Society and the hearing panel were incorrect in law,” wrote Sandler.

“However, we do not conclude that the Law Society’s conduct was without reasonable justification, patently unreasonable, malicious, taken in bad faith, or for a collateral purpose. Our ultimate rejection of the Law Society’s position does not mean that the proceedings against Mr. Robson were ‘unwarranted’ in law. Nor do we conclude that the Law Society caused costs to be incurred without reasonable cause or to be wasted.”

The case against Robson related to allegations of conduct unbecoming arising during a civil action. Robson challenged multiple rulings made by the hearing panel with the appeal division setting aside the findings of conduct unbecoming and ordering a hearing before a different panel on Jan. 13.

LERNERS PARTNER TO LEAD OTLA

The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association has a new president with Maia Bent succeeding Steve Rastin in the role.

A partner at Lerners LLP, Bent is the second lawyer from the firm’s office in London, Ont., to serve in the role in recent years after Andrew Murray’s election to the position in 2012.

“Lerners is proud to employ a team of lawyers who work as passionate advocates for their clients, but our team is also deeply involved in helping address vital legal issues outside of our daily practice,” said Ian Dantzer, managing partner of Lerners in London.

“As president of OTLA, I know that Maia’s profound expertise, compassion, and commitment to the public good will have a tremendously positive impact for her members and those who suffer personal injury or loss in every part of Ontario.”

BAIRD JOINS BENNETT JONES
Former federal cabinet minister John Baird has joined Bennett Jones LLP as a senior adviser.

“Mr. Baird’s expertise in government, domestic, and international business and natural resources will provide invaluable advisory insight and counsel to our clients,” said Hugh MacKinnon, chairman and chief executive officer of Bennett Jones.

Baird, who most recently served as minister of foreign affairs before leaving politics this year, called Bennett Jones a “natural fit” for him.

“I look forward to working with Bennett Jones and their clients to provide strategic counsel in relation to their plans in Canada and abroad,” he said.

“This work will not include making representations to the government of Canada. In particular, I am excited to continue my interest in Canada-China relations, the Bennett Jones office in Beijing being a further draw for me to the firm.”

BINNIE NAMED SPECIAL ARBITRATOR
Ahead of an upcoming report from the auditor general on the Senate, former Supreme Court justice Ian Binnie is taking on the role of special arbitrator over expense disputes.

Binnie will adjudicate cases where senators take issue with orders to reimburse expenses following the auditor general’s report on expense claims.

“I am satisfied that this procedure is independent, fair, and impartial,” said Binnie following his appointment to the role by the steering committee of the standing committee on internal economy, budgets, and administration.

“Every citizen has the right to due process,” he added.

“The Senate arbitration process ensures this.”

NEW LAW FOUNDATION CEO ANNOUNCED
The Law Foundation of Ontario has chosen Tanya Lee to serve as its next chief executive officer.

Lee takes over the role on July 1. Her roles at the organization have included serving as director of policy and programs and director of the access to justice fund. She has also worked at the Ministry of the Attorney General as counsel in the constitutional law branch.

Lee succeeds Elizabeth Goldberg in the role.

POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, 67 per cent of respondents feel the federal government should make it easier for Crown prosecutors to run for political office.

The poll follows concerns by an Ottawa prosecutor who’s seeking judicial review of a Public Service Commission decision not to grant her leave to run as a candidate in the upcoming federal election.

The majority of poll respondents felt the government has had inconsistent positions on the issue given previous situations in which prosecutors were able to run for office.
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QUEEN’S LAW ASSOCIATE DEAN DIES
Flags at Queen’s University flew half-mast last week following the death of associate law dean Stanley Corbett.

Corbett, the law faculty’s longest-serving associate dean, died on May 18, the university announced.

The school said the professor’s links to Queen’s stretches over five decades, beginning with his studies in mathematics before moving to philosophy for his post-graduate degrees.

After spending a few years at Acadia University, Corbett went back to Queen’s for law school and worked as an adjunct professor in philosophy and law before becoming a full-time member of the faculty of law in 1997, the university said in a statement.

Corbett became associate dean of the faculty of law in 2008. He also served as the academic director of the faculty’s global law programs at the Bader International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle in England where he also taught a course in public international law.

‘YEAH, YEAH’ DOESN’T MEAN NO: COURT
When police asked Andre Ouimet if he wanted to speak to counsel after his arrest for suspected impaired driving, his response was, “Yeah, yeah.”

A lower court judge erred in interpreting that to mean no, according to a recent Superior Court ruling that set aside Ouimet’s conviction for refusing to provide a breath sample and ordered a new trial before a different judge.

The lower court judge had accepted testimony from a police officer that Ouimet was being dismissive when informed of his right to seek legal advice.

“Regrettably, there is little in the trial judge’s reasons for judgment to animate why he came to the conclusion that the Appellant did not convey ‘a desire to speak to counsel,’” wrote Superior Court Justice Brian Abrams.

“Rather, the trial judge’s conclusion rests on Constable Collins mere assumption that the appellant waived his right to counsel based on the tone that he used when he said, ‘Yeah, yeah.’”

Police took no steps to confirm that Ouimet was waiving his right to counsel, according to Abrams. “Though perhaps not a flagrant breach, this misconduct amounts to a serious infringement of the Appellant’s Charter rights,” he wrote.

“The officer should have known his Charter obligations during this routine impaired driving investigation. The conduct here is in the category of behaviour from which the Court should be concerned to disassociate itself.”

LAO TO GIVE $100K TO AIDWYIC
Legal Aid Ontario has launched a pilot project that will provide the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted with $100,000 in funding over two years for post-conviction legal services and education.

“This funding will finance case reviews of questionable convictions, so that wrongfully convicted people are identified more quickly and legal proceedings to secure their exonerations can move forward,” said LAO chairman John McCamus.

“LAO’s core mandate is to provide access to justice. I am delighted with this important next step in supporting access to justice for the wrongfully convicted,” he added.

The new LAO funding recognizes the importance of the organization’s work on behalf of the wrongfully convicted, said Ron Dalton, a co-president of AIDWYC.

“It’s a desperate situation to be in prison for a crime you did not commit and to have no one to turn to for help because you have no money,” said Dalton.

“This pilot project, the first of its kind in Canada, reflects an inspirational and pioneering effort towards access to justice and we are enormously grateful for their much-needed support,” he added.   

NORTON ROSE PARTNERS WITH ADVISORY FIRM
Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP says it’s collaborating with corporate advisory firm Atlantic Advisory Partners to help companies take full advantage of the trade agreement between Canada and the European Union.

The firm says that together with Atlantic Advisory Partners, it will provide strategic legal, business development, and financial services to companies in both the Canadian and the European market.

Richard Wagner, a senior partner at Norton Rose Fulbright in Ottawa, said while the free-trade deal will reduce barriers to trade on both sides, “there are steps Canadian and EU companies will need to take to make the most of” the agreement.

“We’re very pleased to partner with AAP to provide legal and business advice on the agreement that’s second-to-none,” he said.
 
POLL RESULTS
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

Despite concerns expressed by the Ontario Court of Appeal in a recent ruling, 55 per cent of respondents say the courts are doing enough to support bilingual proceedings and provide services in French.

Recently, the appeal court made a strong statement about language rights by awarding costs against the Crown in a criminal case after finding a francophone defendant suffered linguistic disadvantages during a bilingual preliminary hearing.

The Ontario government, meanwhile, says it’s making moves to improve French-language services in the courts. The Ministry of the Attorney General is getting ready to launch a pilot project in Ottawa that will implement a number of recommendations from the French-language services bench and bar advisory committee in 2012.
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Law Times poll

After the Supreme Court set out a framework to assess the independence of expert witnesses, litigators have different opinions about whether it’s too difficult to exclude expert evidence on the basis of bias. What do you think?
Yes, it remains very hard to get this evidence excluded, but this may change as trial court judges pay more attention to the backgrounds of expert witnesses.
No, it is not hard to get this evidence excluded, as the courts continually refine the role of experts in both criminal and civil litigation.