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On Feb. 12, the Manitoba Provincial Court in Winnipeg officially swore in the country’s first self-identifying transgender judge. Kael McKenzie was sworn in after serving as a private lawyer and a crown attorney.
He graduated from the University of Manitoba in 2006 and was called to the bar a year later. An active member of the province’s legal and LGBTQ communities, he is also of Metis decent.

Manitoba’s Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh said during the ceremony that the appointment sends a strong message across the country, especially to youth, “that the world is for everyone.”

“It’s historic. Any time the court can be more diverse, I think it strengthens the court, it makes it more legitimate, it gives greater authority,” he added.

In a press release announcing the appointment, McKenzie said: “Most moving was the outreach I received from parents of transgender children across the country. They acknowledged their fears for their children’s futures and somehow my appointment elated their fears.”

Later this week, The Action Group on Access to Justice of the Law Society of Upper Canada will be hosting its second annual Flip Your Wig for Justice fundraising and awareness event. ITAG calls on all legal professionals to don a colourful or wacky wig all day Feb. 25 and collect pledges to support the efforts. Funds raised that day will go to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Community Legal Education Ontario, METRAC – Action on Violence, Ontario Justice Education Network, and Pro Bono Students Canada.

A Flip Your Wig celebration will be held at the LSUC’s upper and lower barristers’ lounge at 130 Queen St. West from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

OBA announces new accolades
The Ontario Bar Association has announced two new awards in tax and health law. The OBA Susan Hilary Davidson Memorial Award for Excellence in Health Law has been established to recognize outstanding achievements by OBA members practising in health law for Ontario. According to a release announcing the new awards, it is named for the late Ms. Davidson in recognition of her excellence and dedication to the health law field. The OBA Award for Excellence in Taxation  Law was created to recognize the exceptional contributions or achievements of OBA members in this area of law. Both new awards will be presented in June. More criteria and nomination forms can be found on the OBA web site.

The annual essay contests of the Canadian Bar Association are open. The deadline for submissions in administrative law, construction and infrastructure law, environmental, energy and resources law, intellectual property, and real property is Feb. 29. The CBA essay contests are for all Canadian law students. The best submissions will receive awards between $250 and $2,500 in cash.

When it comes to grading the expense of a new mentoring program created by the LSUC, our readers are fairly evenly split. We asked our readers if they thought the program — being launched later this year at a cost of $250,000 to start, and forecasted to increase to just less than $500,000 in 2017 and up to $600,000 in 2018 — is a good investment.

Only 54.5 per cent of the respondents said yes, this is a good investment, as mentoring and career coaching will yield large dividends for developing lawyers and the profession as a whole. That left 45.5 per cent who said no, the funding should be invested elsewhere and career coaching can be developed in other ways.
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Legal Aid Ontario will be honouring the newest Sidney B. Lindon award winner later this month.

On Feb. 25 at the Law Society of Upper Canada offices, LAO chair John McCamus will present the distinguished accolade to certified criminal law specialist Bob Richardson, recognizing his commitment to helping low-income people in the pursuit of access to justice.

The event will run in Convocation Hall from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

“I am deeply honoured to receive this award from an organization that advocates so strongly on behalf of those who might otherwise be denied access to justice,” said Richardson in a LAO press release announcing the award.

“I have always believed that people who cannot afford a lawyer deserve proper representation in our courts regardless of their station in life, and this reward recognizes the importance of this belief.”

Richardson, who was called to the bar in 1981 and has worked as a criminal lawyer since 1984, has served as a board member and director for the Criminal Lawyers Association and received their Distinguished Service award in 2004.

He us an instructor with the LSUC’s bar admission course for criminal procedure and has been a member of the Ontario Review Board since 2014.

“We are very pleased to honour Bob’s decades of invaluable work, his dedication and skill as a criminal lawyer, and his deep commitment to public service,” said McCamus. “Bob has demonstrated, time and time again, that an ability to relate to people from all walks of life, combined with knowledge, preparation, generosity of spirit and quiet persistence, make for a formidable advocate. He is truly a role model for anyone working to improve access to justice for marginalized people.”

The Canadian Bar Association has officially launched its call for candidates to fill its national standing committees for 2016-17. All CBA members are eligible to apply for the following committees: access to justice; awards; communications; equality; ethics and professional responsibility; international initiatives; judicial compensation and benefits; legal aid liaison; legislation and law reform; pro bono; professional development; resolutions, constitution and bylaws, and; Supreme Court of Canada liaison. The deadline for applications is April 15.

Newmarket’s famed and multi-award winning author Lawrence Hill graced the Law Society of Upper Canada offices as the LSUC hosted a Black History Month celebration in conjunction with the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers Feb. 9. Lawyer Audrea Golding moderated a Q & A session with Hill, who also played the role of guest speaker for the event. Hill read excerpts from his newest fiction book, The Illegal. The book chronicles the struggles of a talented marathon runner and undocumented refugee.

A little added discretion goes along way in improving public confidence in the eyes of our readers. Last week, we asked our readers if they agree with the new policy changes that Superior Court of Justice judges will have to apply to a Law Society of Upper Canada tribunal to appear as counsel in court. Just more than 71 per cent of the respondents said they agree with the new policy, because the rules enhance fairness and impartiality as well as public confidence in the court system. However, about 29 per cent disagreed with the new policy, indicating the move is unnecessary and will create needless barriers for former judges who wish to appear before the court as counsel.

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The Ontario Human Rights Commission will be intervening in Roberts v. Toronto Police Services Board, an application before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario that raises the issues of racial profiling and discriminatory use of force.

In December of 2014, Rohan Roberts was walking to a friend’s Christmas party in the Jane Street and Finch Avenue area of Toronto when he was approached by two Toronto Police Service officers. Roberts alleges that the officers demanded his identification and ran his information through several police databases. He alleges that following this, he was arrested, handcuffed, and dragged to a nearby grassy area and beaten. He sustained injuries that required treatment in hospital and charges of assaulting and threatening the police officers against him were subsequently dropped. Roberts asserts that he was the victim of racial profiling and discriminatory use of force based on race.

In a press release announcing the intervention, the OHRC said it will argue the case must be viewed in the context of the overrepresentation of African-Canadians in carding activities of the TPS and disproportionate use of force by police on African-Canadians.

OHRC chief commissioner Renu Mandhane stated in the release: “This case exemplifies how little progress has been made. We are now turning to legal action so that officers and administrators are held accountable. Racialized communities can’t wait any longer.”

Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP has announced the addition of 12 new partners across four of its Canadian offices, including three in Toronto.

Rahat Godil, who specializes in complex commercial litigation and international arbitrations and also has experience in class actions and constitutional litigation, joins the Toronto team along with David Rosner, whose expertise focuses on Canadian competition law and foreign investment law, and Elizabeth Sale, an expert on financial regulatory matters, including consumer protection and fintech.

The Law Foundation of Ontario has announced it is now accepting applications for its Ontario’s Community Leadership in Justice Fellowship program for both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic terms. Fellows are senior employees of public interest organizations and are funded up to a $50,000 maximum to attend an Ontario university, law school, or community college. The focus is on improving access to justice and provides an opportunity for professional development by undertaking research, teaching, or co-teaching new course material and mentoring. Candidates do not need to have a law degree, but they must be in a pubic interest organization dedicated to law reform, legal advocacy, or the justice system. The deadline for applications is April 29. Full details of the program and application process can be found on the foundation’s web site.

In the eyes of our readers, the James Forcillo verdict will look good to the general public, but only in glancing. Last week, we asked if people felt the verdict against Forcillo for attempted murder in the death of Sammy Yatim will improve the public’s perception of the justice system. Only 56.5 per cent of the respondents felt that yes, they believe the verdict will help restore public confidence and the conviction of attempted murder was fair in the circumstances. That left 43.5 per cent who said no, the verdict was not justified and will not enhance the way Canadians view the justice system nor those who work within it.
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MacKay OK at Baker & McKenzie
Peter MacKay, the former federal attorney general and minister of Defence, will be joining global law firm Baker & McKenzie LLP’s Toronto office, ending media speculation around potential leadership by MacKay of the Conservative party.

Peter MacKay will be a partner at the firm, working in litigation, government enforcement, and compliance.

There had been media speculation about MacKay returning to politics in light of the leadership race for the Conservative party, but MacKay says he wants to focus on practicing law.

“What I can tell you is that I have made a very clear decision to resume the practice of law, and so that’s where my focus is,” says MacKay.

“I made that decision some time ago, when I exited politics to spend more time with my family, to be more available to them, but also just to return to the private sector was always my intention, as a career, to practice law.”

MacKay says it will be the first time he’s made his home in Toronto, where he will be settling with his family, including two young children.

He says he is hopeful about having a healthy work-life balance.

“That was part of the calculus. I think it’s a good fit here. It’s a very family-friendly environment, among other qualities attributable to Baker & McKenzie,” says MacKay. Baker & McKenzie has about 80 lawyers in Toronto and about 4,400 worldwide.

“All law firms react to what’s happening with their clients and what their clients’ needs are,” says Kevin Coon, managing partner of the Toronto office.

George Adams receives honourary LLD
The Law Society of Upper Canada has awarded a degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa  to the Honourable George W. Adams.

Considered a Canadian pioneer of alternative dispute resolution, the former law professor, award-winning author, and former judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has acted as a mediator and facilitator in almost every type of conflict and conducted many public policy facilitations.

Anand becomes first research chair for investor rights
The University of Toronto announced Jan. 27 that professor Anita Anand, a corporate law and governance expert, is the new J. R. Kimber Chair in Investor Protection and Corporate Governance at the university’s Faculty of Law. She becomes the first research chair for investor rights in North America thanks to a generous gift from well-known philanthropist the Hon. Hal Jackman, a law school alumnus, former U of T chancellor, and former lieutenant governor of Ontario.

The chair is named after J.R. Kimber, author of the foundational “Report of the Attorney General’s Committee on Securities Legislation in Ontario” (March 1965), which laid the foundation for Canada’s modern securities regulatory regime.

Law Times poll results
Last week, we asked our readers if they agree with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to give governments an additional four months to figure out how physician-assisted death will occur. The bulk of our readers say time is not necessarily of the essence, but getting it right is.

Slightly less than 65 per cent of the respondents said yes, they agree with the decision to grant the extension, as it will allow governments to determine their approach and benefit Canadians. That left slightly more than 35 per cent of the respondents who said they do not agree with the extension because it is such a time-sensitive issue.
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Blanchard appointed UN ambassador
McCarthy Tetrault LLP’s loss will be the United Nations’ gain as the firm’s chairman and chief executive officer, Marc-André Blanchard, has been appointed ambassador to the UN by Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion.

“The United Nations is where the world comes together. Being asked to lead Canada’s mission to the United Nations is an immense honour, particularly at a time when Canada has re-committed itself to multilateral diplomacy and to engage more widely on the international scene,” said Blanchard in a press release from the firm announcing the appointment. “It’s been my privilege to work at McCarthy Tétrault since 1997 and lead the firm for the last six years.

“I now look forward to directing my energies towards my new role at the United Nations, an institution our government recognizes as having a vitally important role to play on the global stage,” he said.

Hélène Sansoucy, specialist, clients and marketing for McCarthy Tétrault, says Blanchard will remain in his CEO post until April 1 and that the firm’s board of partners has initiated the process for selecting the next CEO.

“As CEO, Marc-André has been the leading champion of our firm’s innovative approach to the market in terms of client service delivery and other initiatives. For the foreseeable future, we will continue with our current strategic direction and our commitment to innovation, diversity, efficiency, and excellence,” Sansoucy says.

New firm in the Canadian fold
International law firm Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak and Stewart PC has made its first foray into Canada.
One of the U.S.’s largest labour and employment law firms with offices already in Europe and Mexico, it has expanded to Toronto with its 49th office.

“Canada is an important market for our firm, as many of our clients have operations there and need representation and counsel on Canadian and cross-border labour and employment law matters,” said Kim Ebert, managing shareholder of Ogletree Deakins, in a press release announcing the expansion. “We know that we’ve chosen the right team of lawyers who share the firm’s culture and values to establish our presence in the country.”

Access to Justice Fund application call opens
The Law Foundation of Ontario has announced its 2016 call for applications has opened for the Access to Justice Fund. Created in 2009 after receiving almost $15 million in cy-près awards, the fund is now a permanent fixture in the organization to improve access to justice. The LFO will be accepting letters of intent until April 1. To be considered, applications must be from Canadian non-profit organizations and must be for projects that address the legal needs of: children and youth; consumers; public legal education intake and referral; racialized groups, or refugees. Full details are at the LFO web site at

Law Times Poll
Leave pension planning to the feds, the bulk of our readers have said. Last week’s poll asked if people think the Ontario government should continue with its plan to go it alone in a provincial pension plan.
About 33 per cent of our readers said, sure, we need a separate plan apart from the CPP to ensure seniors can retire in comfort, or at least more comfortably. The naysayers represented just less than 68 per cent, saying no way to a provincial pension plan as Ontario is broke and businesses can’t afford another tax at this point in the economic cycle.
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Osgoode lands legal giant
Heavy-hitting retired Supreme Court of Canada judge Marshall Rothstein has joined Osgoode Hall Law School at York University as a distinguished visiting professor. Lorne Sossin, dean of the law school, announced Jan. 7 that Rothstein has accepted the appointment on a one-year term. Although retired from the Supreme Court bench in August 2015, a position he held since 2006, Winnipeg-born Rothstein has been serving as associate counsel at Hunter Litigation Chambers in Vancouver, where his primary focus has been as an arbitrator in commercial and public law matters.

“It is exciting for me to be returning to Osgoode, which I have had the pleasure of visiting many times over the years,” Rothstein said in a statement announcing his appointment. I look forward to visiting Osgoode, engaging with the students and imparting what insight I can. I’m sure that the experience will enrich my understanding of law and legal education.”

Rothstein, called to the Manitoba bar in 1966, has had a long and distinguished career that began with the former Thorvaldson Eggertson Saunders Mauro and the later merged Aikins MacAulay & Thorvaldson LLP firm, where he served as partner from 1972 to 1992. As visiting professor, he will be involved in a broad range of academic activities centred around the school’s Intellectual Property Law and Technology program and in the areas of tax and administrative law.

LFO grant bolsters free legal help to resettle refugees
With the Government of Canada reaching its goal to resettle the first wave of 10,000 Syrian refugees last week, there’s significant financial help from the Law Foundation of Ontario to ensure the process goes smoother for those who have arrived and those still making their way. The LFO announced last week that it has granted $90,000 to the partnership of Lifeline Syria and the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program to provide free legal work for those refugees settling in the Toronto area. Nationally, more than 1,000 lawyers and supervised law students have volunteered with the sponsorship support program to provide the pro bono services.

Gowlings grows and Santini merges
Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP has announced the admission of 17 new partners to its Canadian offices. Four partners are in the Toronto-based offices in the areas of financial services, marketing and regulatory affairs, intellectual property, and tax law. The firm announced the appointments come in advance of its impending combination with Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, a leading UK-based firm, to create Gowling WLG later this year. Meanwhile, the Ottawa-based firms of Hamilton Appotive LLP and Kelly Santini LLP announced that, as of Jan. 1, the two firms have merged. Both formed about 40 years ago; the integrated firm continues under the moniker of Kelly Santini LLP.

Law Times Poll
When it comes to the question of equal pay for seemingly equal work, there’s an equal point of view from our readers. Last week’s poll asked participants if they agree with the Case Management Masters Remuneration Commission findings that masters are underpaid and should receive the same pay and benefits as their provincial court peers. It was a dead heat with 50 per cent saying yes, the masters’ pay is inadequate for their level of authority and responsibility. The other half say nay, their duties and responsibilities do not compare and neither should their compensation.
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RCMP sex suit certified
Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell has certified a $600-million sex discrimination class action against the Attorney General of Canada brought by former RCMP officer Linda Gillis Davidson.

Perell dismissed a Crown motion to have the claim struck for failing to disclose a reasonable cause of action.

Davidson, represented by Toronto’s Kim Orr Barristers, alleged she and fellow female RCMP officers and female civilian members were subject to sexual discrimination, bullying, and harassment by the male officers and civilian members between 1986 and 2009. She sued the AG for negligence and breach of contract.

In his ruling released just before the new year, Perell struck Davidson’s claim in contract and against the public service members, but he granted leave to deliver an amended statement of claim.

“With respect to the negligence claim, I accept the Crown’s argument that the RCMP is not itself a legal entity capable of being sued as an institution and that under the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act, the Crown can only be liable vicariously (i.e., not directly) for the misconduct of individual Crown servants, but I conclude that Ms. Davidson has adequately pleaded a claim against the collective of all male police officers and all male civilian members of the RCMP during the class period, and, therefore, her systemic negligence claim is a sound claim for which the Crown is vicariously liable,” Perell wrote.

Stikemans beefs up
One of the country’s leading business law firms has added eight new lawyers to the partnership, effective Jan. 1. Five will join the offices in Toronto including Mike Devereux, who comes most recently from the firm’s offices in Sydney, Australia, and Meaghan Obee Tower, who was recognized by the International Financial Law Review’s IFLR1000: The Guide to the World’s Leading Financial Law Firms 2016 as a rising star in the area of banking.

Wise wins FEES claim
Chalk one up for lawyer Roy Wise, who successfully sued a client over fees. He represented the client in a dispute over the sale of taxi licences only to face a $400,000 counterclaim from the client for negligence.

In the end, Wise and his lawyer Benjamin Salsberg prevailed. In a cost endorsement, Ontario Superior Court of Justice Stephen Firestone awarded Wise $86,000 for his time spent representing the client and another $80,000 defending the counterclaim.

He found Wise “exercised his judgment appropriately and that he acted in accordance with his retainer and in his client’s best interests.”

Firestone noted that as a “direct result of the counterclaim, both the complexity and trial time were increased.

“In the counterclaim, the defendant called into question Wise’s integrity and competence as a solicitor.”
He said the client “could reasonably have expected that those allegations would be vigorously defended given both the amount sought and the nature of the allegations made against Wise.”

Law Times Poll
It was almost a political dead heat. We asked readers whether the Liberal government’s plan to engage in electoral reform was necessary. A slim majority (53.5%) agreed that the current electoral system is outdated and needs an overhaul, while 46.5% say our first-past-the-post system works well and politicians should butt out. That could make for some tricky times ahead steering electoral reform through the seas of change.
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Class action approved against Neinstein and Associates LLP
Toronto-based personal injury lawyer Gary Neinstein of Neinstein & Associates LLP had a difficult end to 2015 when in mid-December the divisional court certified a class action against the firm.

The action is based on allegations unproven in court that it entered into improper fee arrangements, took unauthorized fees, failed to obtain required court approval, and improperly charged interest rates on disbursements in Hodge v. Neinstein.

Days after that ruling, the Divisional Court released its judgment on an appeal Neinstein had launched in response to a finding of professional misconduct against him by the Law Society of Upper Canada’s disciplinary tribunal after a separate personal injury matter dating back to the mid-2000s. The divisional court dismissed the appeal and ordered that if the lawyer and LSUC cannot agree on costs, they are to provide written submissions to the society by the end of January. The disciplinary tribunal had originally found he acted in a conflict of interest, that he breached two court orders, and knowingly commissioned and relied upon a false affidavit to mislead the court and levelled a six-month licence suspension.

He appealed to divisional court that the reasons for judgment were insufficient, that it failed to take into account certain vital defence evidence, that it erred in finding a conflict of interest he argued was waived in 2005, and that the penalty was too harsh in reflecting the scope of the misconduct. He also argued that any potential missteps he may have made were “isolated incidents in an otherwise exceptional career.”

The Divisional Court ruled that the penalty against Neinstein was reasonable and could have been higher, with Justice D.L. Corbett writing in the decision: “Mr. Neinstein’s overall pattern of professional misconduct in this case was a serious departure from the standards of professionalism expected of a lawyer and warranted the penalty imposed.”

Legal Aid Ontario launches new app
It’s another new year and another step forward into the evolving technological landscape for Legal Aid Ontario.

LAO has just launched a mobile phone application to help people determine whether they are financially eligible for a legal aid certificate.

The mobile app will also give applicants real-time access to call centre wait times. John McCamus, LAO chairman, said in a press release that this is the first version of the app, and it follows the organization’s recent expansion of financial and legal eligibility criteria for legal aid services in Ontario.

“We’re proud to enhance access to legal aid services through technology in this manner,” he said.

The app is available free of charge through app stores for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry devices and does not collect or store any user data.

McCamus said the LAO app is an example of how the organization is not only expanding existing services but also innovating the way these services are provided to low-income individuals.

“By offering a new way for clients to self-assess, we can connect with them and determine their legal needs more quickly,” said McCamus. “We’ll also be providing a near-instantaneous response to applicants who are ineligible for certificate services, and we’ll be able to refer them to other services more quickly. We’re proud to enhance access to legal aid services through technology in this manner.”

Gattrell appointed to Ontario Court of Justice
The Ministry of the Attorney General has announced that effective Dec. 30, 2015, Robert Edward Gattrell has taken on the role of judge for the Ontario Court of Justice and has been assigned to preside in Barrie.

Called to the bar in 1989, the fully bilingual lawyer worked as an assistant Crown attorney for 15 years in Simcoe County before taking on the role of Crown Counsel in the Crown Law Office — Criminal with the MAG. He most recently held the position of deputy director and acting chief counsel in charge of the Justice Prosecutions unit for the MAG.

Poll results
The cold, harsh reality of the Paris climate conference agreement may be that the majority doesn’t seem to think it will have much impact. In last week’s poll, we asked our readers if they thought the agreement to limit average global warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures would be achieved. Only 27 per cent said world governments would rally around climate change to meet the objective. Almost three quarters of respondents say no, the global leaders will not be able to deliver on their promises.

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Legal Aid Ontario announces new CEO
Legal Aid Ontario will ring in the New Year with a new president and chief executive officer. David Field, a long-time senior executive at the organization, will take on both roles, effective Jan. 1.

Replacing Robert Ward, who announced his retirement earlier this year, Field comes with a 33-year financial and strategic planning career in the public sector that includes his work as the director and chief financial officer with the business and fiscal planning branch at the Ministry of the Attorney General and as director, financial planning and business management branch at both the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

“David is well equipped to provide value for our clients, and continued support for our staff, service providers, and the many other professionals who serve those clients,” said John McCamus, chairman of LAO in a press release. “He will play a key role in supporting and furthering LAO’s mandate to assist the poor and marginalized with their legal needs, and he looks forward to actively engaging with LAO’s many dedicated stakeholders in the social justice community to achieve this objective.”

LAO stated that in his most recent role as vice president of strategic planning and compliance at LAO, Field has been instrumental in LAO’s development of modern management methods to benefit client service and organizational effectiveness.

He has worked in various capacities for the Government of Ontario since 1982 and holds an MBA in public administration from York University as well as a BA in political science from the University of Waterloo.

Thomson Reuters and MaRS Discovery District collaboration
Thomson Reuters has announced a collaborative agreement with MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, one of the world’s largest innovation hubs. The new alliance aims to create bridges between the start-up community, legal practitioners, and the business world to foster innovations that advance the legal industry.

Thomson Reuters, Law Times’ parent company, will sponsor MaRS’ LegalX Cluster, which connects technology, high-growth ventures, and the legal industry. The Legal Executive Institute and other Thomson Reuters businesses will facilitate events and other initiatives connecting LegalX communities with law firm leaders to build relationships, as well as encourage partnerships and innovative solutions.

“We want to accelerate the dialogue between lawyers, technologists, designers, engineers, and entrepreneurs to drive change,” said Neil Sternthal, managing director for Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, for the Legal business of Thomson Reuters. “The LegalX Cluster uniquely connects these groups.
We envision that this collaboration will help industry, startups, lawyers, government and academia exchange knowledge, ideas and resources to jointly develop the future of the legal industry.

Can’t shed the CRA shackles, ever
Federal Court of Canada Justice James Russell chided a self-represented plaintiff in Edmonton who was taking his shot at freeing himself from the Canada Revenue Agency. Seeking $750 million in tax-exempt relief and an order preventing the CRA from having any interaction with him in any way again, stemming from his frustration in dealing with the agency during an assessment and audit, John Beima was essentially told by the justice “‘good luck’.”

“The plaintiff wishes to be paid a large sum of money from the public purse on a tax-free basis and to never again have to deal with CRA. I am not being critical of the plaintiff. He is a self-represented litigant and he has every right to seek relief where it is due and justiciable in the Federal Court,” Russell wrote in his ruling of last week, adding there was no “scintilla of a cause of action” in the matter.

“However, the nature and scope of the extraordinary relief he seeks suggest he may be acting in a somewhat unrealistic fashion.”

Beima took aim at a long list of government employees, judges, and even the former prime minister, leading the judge to rule his claims equated to “a rant against government employees, certain members of the judiciary, and the Government of Canada by someone who believes that CRA should be ordered to stop ‘having any interaction in any way shape or form with the [applicant] ever again.’.”

Law Times Poll
No cherry picking by the Law Society of Upper Canada, says the bulk of respondents to last week’s Law Times online poll. Almost 78 per cent of respondents say Western University law school students who used a vulgar name for their co-ed intermural hockey team should not be investigated by the LSUC for their team moniker. About 22 per cent said the LSUC should get involved because the team was bringing the profession into disrepute.

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Make sure you bow or curtsy next time you walk by the offices of Aird & Berlis LLP. The firm has been named official “Office of the Honorary Consul for the Kingdom of Belgium for Ontario,” according to a press release. That’s a mouthful!

The appointment follows on the heels of A&B partner Donald B. Johnston, co-leader of the firm’s technology group, being named honorary consul by Royal Decree of the King of Belgium last September.

The firm threw a shindig to honour the occasion, which included high-ranking dignitaries from various European governments, including Germany, Luxembourg, Hungary, France, and Belgium, as well as representatives from the Toronto business and legal communities. And, we hope, Belgian chocolates, because they are so good!

Belgian Ambassador Raoul Delcorde took time to note the long-standing relationship his country has had with Canada. Can you believe it? About 1,200, registered Belgians currently work and reside in Ontario, not bad for a country with a population around 11 million.

Former Supreme Court of Canada justice Marshall Rothstein has a new home in Vancouver at Hunter Litigation Chambers. Rothstein, a former Federal Court judge whom the SCC often called on to deliver rulings in intellectual property cases and federal issues, sat on the top court from 2006 to 2015.

The former Manitoba lawyer joins Hunter as associate counsel, and says “I look forward to applying my particular interests in intellectual property, tax law, and regulatory issues to the work of the practice.”

Nortel continues to be the litigation gift that keeps on giving.

According to recent figures compiled by independent financial analyst Diane Urquhart, fees paid to professionals in Nortel’s cross-border insolvency have surpassed a staggering $2.1 billion, about 15 per cent of the assets, with more litigation to come in both Canada and the U.S.

According to Urquhart, who studied U.S. insolvency filings to get a picture of who earned what, the big Canadian winners (converted to Canadian dollars) include Torys LLP, which has collected more than $24 million, while Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP and Lax O’Sullivan Lisus LLP have received another $133 million. Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP received $6 million as Canadian legal counsel for the U.S. Unsecured Creditor Committee.

However, that’s chump change compared with what some U.S. law firms have been paid. Cleary Gottlieb Steen Hamilton LLP and Herbert Smith LLP have earned more than a half a billion dollars to date. Nice gig if you can get it.

Meanwhile, Urquhart points out, some former Nortel employees on disability are getting by on as little as $11,148 annually, or about an hour or two of billings among these legal giants.

Apparently Ontario’s class action judges have stirred up a hornet’s nest with their recent rulings involving Merchant Law Group. The Law Times poll asked readers if those cases will lead to more Ontario carriage fights in class actions?

Overwhelmingly, 75 per cent said brace for the storm because “the court has opened a can of worms,” while 25 per cent think Merchant will fold its tent and go back home to Saskatchewan.

Hang onto your hats this could get interesting.
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The dean of Western Law School says he was “disappointed” to learn a group of law students were playing intramural hockey under an offensive name and has called an end to the existence of “Dixon Cider” and issued disciplinary measures to those involved.

Western Law dean Iain Scott said the hockey team’s name was brought to his attention Nov. 19 when a law student contacted him with concerns about it and the sweaters worn by male and female players of “Dixon Cider.”

“I was dismayed,” says Scott. “Once I had the name explained — you have to say it to get it and obviously it’s totally unacceptable and doesn’t reflect our values and what we’re trying to instill in what we expect in our students.”

As reported in the London Free Press, the team had been using the name for at least two years. The sweaters featured a picture of a man carrying a box.

“This was out of the blue — these intramural games are played late at night in empty arenas somewhere and I’ve never been to one,” says Scott.

He adds the team was contacted the same day he was notified by the student and informed their hockey sweaters with the Dixon Cider name on them should not be worn. The team name has since been changed to the Crash Test Domi’s.

Scott says he’s dealt with the issue as a code of conduct matter and it is being addressed in terms of “how we should treat and regard one another.”

Citing privacy reasons, the dean would not speak to the specifics of the discipline being handed out to the 12 players on the team.

“This is something the university has a process to deal with and it’s within that context I’ve dealt with it,” he says. Law Society of Upper Canada spokesperson Susan Tonkin told Law Times that under the Law Society Act and By-law 4, recipients of lawyer or paralegal licences are required to be of good character. Licensing applicants are therefore required to disclose matters in their past or present circumstances that may place their character in issue.

However, that doesn’t mean only the students can report the activity to the law society. “Like in all matters, the Law Society receives and can act on information from a number of sources,” said Tonkin.

Maybe the Law Society of Upper Canada is right to go slow when it comes to approving alternative business structures. The darling of ABS, Australian-based plaintiff litigation firm Slater & Gordon, took it on the chin in the latter part of November, with its share price dropping a whopping 69 per cent after the U.K. shocked the legal market with an announcement that it would seek to limit lawsuits from car accidents.

Lawyer Miguna Miguna has been stuck with a $120,000 legal bid over his failed attempt to sue Consortium Book Sales and Distribution, LLC, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for copyright breach.

That’s less than the $155,000 in costs they sought after they successfully obtained a summary judgment order in his copyright case against them. Miguna, who is qualified in Kenya and Canada, is author of Peeling Back The Mask – A Quest for Justice in Kenya. It’s an autobiography of Miguna, who once served as a senior adviser on legal and constitutional affairs to the prime minister of Kenya.
Miguna claimed the defendants breached his copyright, but the Ontario Supreme Court disagreed.

There’s a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to the country’s efforts on battling climate change, according to our last poll.

More than 44 per cent of readers said governments are merely “engaging in platitudes” when it comes to taking effective action on climate change. The poll found 55 per cent felt that there was a consensus building in Canada that it is time to act.   
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From the discipline files
Lawyers Brian Radnoff and Chris Moore have successfully defended Nepean, Ont., lawyer Luigi Savone in front of a Law Society of Upper Canada Appeals Tribunal.
The Law Society revoked Savone’s licence last March, after a hearing panel concluded that Savone knowingly participated in a mortgage fraud between 2000 and 2003, and ordered him to pay $10,000 in costs.  

However, on appeal, the hearing panel ruling was set aside on the issues of disclosure, professional misconduct, and penalty, and a new hearing was ordered.

Toronto lawyer Remy G. Boghossian has had his licence suspended on an interim basis in advance of a Law Society hearing into his case. Boghossian made the news earlier this year after being found guilty of a nearly $2-million fraud involving the Royal Bank of Canada and a scheme to purchase unique gold bars.

In that case, Judge A.J. O’Marra disagreed that the corporate lawyer was duped. “I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Remy Boghossian was a knowing participant in the presentation of the fraudulent bank draft to the Royal Bank of Canada on February 10, 2011 and subsequently possessed gold knowing it had been obtained by a criminal offence.”

Also having their licences revoked were Woodstock lawyer Peter David Snyder and Toronto lawyer Golnaz Vakili.

Snyder was found to have engaged in conduct unbecoming after being convicted of defrauding four individuals. He was also ordered to pay $5,380 in costs.

Vakili was kicked out for misconduct and knowingly assisting in dishonesty or fraud in connection with 13 property transactions and   failing to be honest and candid with her lender clients. She was ordered to pay $50,000 in costs.
Big gets bigger
In a three-way hookup, fast-growing Dentons, Singapore’s Rodyk, and Australian law firm Gadens are joining forces to create a dominant global law firm in the Pacific Rim. Rodyk, a 200-lawyer firm, dates back to 1861. It is Singapore’s first law firm and one of the largest full-service law firms with a strong regional practice.
Its focus is corporate, finance, intellectual property and technology, litigation and arbitration, and real estate. Gadens is a leading Australian law firm with more than 500 lawyers and 550 professional staff across its seven Australian locations.

The new firm, which is expected to launch in 2016, will be big, with 130 offices in 50 countries. It will include more than 7,300 lawyers, 9,000 timekeepers, and nearly 13,000 people. Good thing The Inside Story doesn’t have to do the payroll!

Poll results
The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in and the findings? Lawyers like it! Readers overwhelmingly voted in the affirmative when asked whether they supported the Public Participation Act, the Wynne government’s effort to eliminate SLAPP in Ontario. SLAPP involves strategic lawsuits designed to curtail public participation.

More than 83 per cent voted that the legislation was long overdue, versus 16 per cent of those who felt it would curtail legitimate actions from moving forward.

According to the Ministry of the Attorney General, the new law amends the Courts of Justice Act, the Libel and Slander Act, and the Statutory Powers and Procedures Act to allow “the public to participate more freely in public discussions without fear of retribution.”

It creates a fast-track review process to identify and deal with strategic lawsuits, and includes new protections from defamation when someone airs his or her views on public matters through third parties, such as the media.
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The County & District Law Presidents’ Association is rebranding itself as the Federation of Ontario Law Associations.

Earlier this month, the presidents of the 46 local law associations voted to change the name. The change reflects a feeling by the association’s executive that the CDLPA name was “cumbersome and did not reflect the full scope of what the organization meant to its membership,” according to a news release.

“It is our intent that this mandate will remain, but with the new name and ‘rebranding,’ we think it will become more clear to members and to key stakeholders that we represent frontline, practising lawyers across Ontario who are members of their local law associations,” said Eldon Horner, the incoming chairman of the organization.

“While we respect the history and tradition of the association and all those who served it as volunteers in the past, it was clear to the presidents and leadership of the association that the name needed to change.”

As lawyers eagerly await the federal government’s response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling on assisted suicide, new Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has modified the mandate and extended the deadline for a panel appointed to look at the issue.

On Nov. 14, Wilson-Raybould and Health Minister Jane Philpott announced the panel, led by chairman Harvey Max Chochinov, would have a one-month extension until Dec. 15 to complete its report. The government has also modified the panel’s mandate to focus on the results of its consultations rather than on the development of legislative options to respond to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Carter v. Canada (Attorney General).

The clock, of course, has been ticking as the government faces a one-year timeline to fill the legislative void created by the Feb. 6 ruling. Since the Liberals took power this month, there has been speculation that the government will seek an extension of the deadline.

Earlier this fall, the Legal Feeds blog reported on Toronto lawyer Miguna Miguna’s copyright dispute with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Miguna lost his claim, and now the Ontario Superior Court has ordered him to pay a combined $120,000 in costs to two defendants.

In September, Justice Graeme Mew granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment after considering Miguna’s claim of a copyright breach in relation to his book, Peeling Back the Mask: A Quest for Justice in Kenya. Miguna claimed he didn’t consent to any publication, production or release of the book by the defendants, Mew noted.

Miguna has appealed the decision, suggesting Mew had failed to fully appreciate all of the evidence before him. In the meantime, Mew has rejected Miguna’s arguments that he shouldn’t have to pay costs to Wal-Mart and Consortium Book Sales and Distribution LLC, a company identified on as the publisher of the book. Mew found that “as an experienced lawyer, the plaintiff knew full well that by bringing this action he was exposing himself to the possibility of a significant award of costs.”

As a result, Mew ordered Miguna to pay $50,000 to Wal-Mart and $70,000 to Consortium.

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

According to the poll, respondents have significant doubts about the feasibility of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year. More than 66 per cent of participants felt the plan isn’t realistic and suggested the government should take its time to ramp up its response.   
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After 20 years as chairman and chief executive officer of Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, Scott Jolliffe is stepping down and Peter Lukasiewicz is taking over the helm.

Lukasiewicz, who’s currently the firm’s external managing partner, will take over as chief executive officer effective Jan. 1. He’ll also serve as a representative on the global board of Gowling WLG, the new international legal practice created by the merger of Gowlings and Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co. announced in July.

Lukasiewicz was the managing partner of the Toronto office of Gowlings for 15 years. He took on the external managing partner role two years ago.

Jolliffe told the firm’s partners more than a year ago he wouldn’t be seeking a renewed term.

“I felt it was time to build for the future with a new CEO,” says Jolliffe.

The firm launched an internal nomination process and the nominating committee recommended Lukasiewicz. The firm’s partners voted on that recommendation in July.

Lukasiewicz, a commercial litigator, has been at Gowlings for his entire legal career.

Jolliffe isn’t leaving the firm. He’ll take on a new role as one of Gowlings’ three representatives on the global board of Gowling WLG.

“That board is being launched Jan. 18 and it’s important to me it gets off to a really good start and that we continue to grow our firm in a global, international sense. I will take a very active role in that aspect of the combined firm,” he says.

With 2015 marking the 150th anniversary of the execution of Louis Riel, the Law Society of Upper Canada is hosting an event to commemorate the Métis leader today.

The event will take place at Osgoode Hall with a roundtable set for 4 p.m. followed by a reception at 6 p.m. The roundtable will include experts and leaders from the Métis community, academia, and government speaking about what reconciliation looks like in the future.

Moderating the panel will be Jean Teillet of Pape Salter Teillet LLP. The speakers include Métis Nation of Ontario president Gary Lipinski, political scientist Peter Russell, Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs counsel Candice Telfer, and Pape Salter Teillet’s Jason Madden.

The Ontario government is seeking input on proposed changes to the province’s death investigation system.

The regulatory changes include expanding the role of the Death Investigation Oversight Council to enable it to provide advice and make recommendations to the chief coroner on whether to call a discretionary inquest. The proposal wouldn’t change the chief coroner’s decision-making authority. According to the government, the authority to direct a chief coroner to hold an inquest remains with the chief coroner.

The government is seeking comment on the changes over the next five weeks.

Just a few weeks after the federal election, former Conservative cabinet ministers are already making the jump to big law firms.

On Nov. 6, Dentons Canada LLP announced former industry minister James Moore would be joining the firm. Based in Dentons’ Vancouver office, he’ll serve as a senior business adviser.

“We are delighted to welcome James to Dentons. Our clients in Vancouver, across the country, and around the world will greatly benefit from his strategic advice and insights,” said Lori Mathison, managing partner of Dentons’ Vancouver office.    

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

According to the poll, about 58 per cent of respondents don’t have a will.

The poll comes amid the Ontario Bar Association’s Make a Will month aimed at building awareness of end-of-life planning. While surveys have suggested 56 per cent of Canadians don’t have a will, a recent Law Times story suggested many lawyers lack one as well.
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The Law Foundation of Ontario has announced that Julie Mathews will receive the 2015 Guthrie award.
The award, named in honour of former foundation trustee and chairman Donald Guthrie, acknowledges individuals and organizations for their contributions to access to justice and excellence in the legal profession.

“Julie exemplifies what the Guthrie Award is all about,” said Paul Schabas, chairman of the law foundation.

“She’s definitely made a far‐reaching impact on access to justice personally, and has led a strong team to deliver high-quality legal information throughout Ontario.”

Mathews has been executive director of Community Legal Education of Ontario since 2000 and previously worked as a lawyer in private practice and a policy analyst for the Ontario government.

“Julie plays a unique role in our justice sector and has been a significant influence on the quality of public legal education, innovative research, relationships, and access to justice in Ontario and beyond,” said Carol Lee Smith, counsel at the Social Justice Tribunals Ontario and former chairwoman of CLEO.

Among Mathews’ accomplishments at CLEO is Connecting Communities, a project that aims to boost the capacity of community organizations to provide legal information to linguistic minorities or people in remote or rural communities. “They took the project from an idea to the thriving reality it is today, supporting over 20 community‐based projects across Ontario,” the law foundation said in announcing the award.

The foundation will present Mathews with the award at a reception ceremony in February.

Two Ontario legal organizations are putting an emphasis on legal literacy for Ontario high school students with the launch of a new educational program.

The program, a joint effort by LawPRO and the Ontario Justice Education Network, involves a six-module resource that includes lessons on negotiation, rental housing, buying and selling a home, mortgages, and human rights in the housing context. The goal is to boost students’ financial literacy and legal capability.

“These lesson plans, which link to the Ontario Ministry of Education curriculum expectations, will build students’ capacity to understand their rights and obligations in both a rental housing and real estate market context,” said Andrea Sobko, director of educator support at the OJEN.

“Students are exposed to real-life scenarios through which they learn practical legal information, practise their negotiation skills, and demonstrate how to make important financial decisions.”

Teachers and others interested in the lessons can download the materials from the OJEN’s web site at

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

According to the poll, there’s a lot of support from the legal community for new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plan to legalize marijuana possession. More than 66 per cent of respondents said they agreed with the idea.

Trudeau, of course, made legalization a key part of his campaign platform ahead of the Oct. 19 election.
He’ll be seeking to make good on the promise amid questions about the details of such a change and a busy agenda for the federal government that includes bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada this year and responding to the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling this year on physician-assisted suicide.

The job of handling the legalization promise will fall in large part on Jody Wilson-Raybould, the new MP for Vancouver Granville named by Trudeau to serve as justice minister last week.   
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A Superior Court judge had strong words for a justice of the peace who quashed a traffic ticket on her own motion.

“It is abundantly clear, pursuant to section 36, that it is up to the defendant and not the court to bring a motion to quash,” wrote Justice Mark Edwards, referring to s. 36 of the Provincial Offences Act.

In Regional Municipality of York v. Lorman, Edwards took justice of the peace Rhonda Shousterman to task for not following recent decisions on that issue: Regional Municipality of Niagara v. Kosyatchkov and York (Regional Municipality) v. Datoo.

“Justice of the Peace Shousterman did not follow the decisions in Kosyatchkov and Datoo. . . . She also did not follow two other decisions of this court where it was made very clear that she did not have jurisdiction to quash a certificate of offence on her own motion where the defendant was before the court,” wrote Edwards.

Apparently, it’s not the first time the issue has arisen. “This court has spoken, on more than one occasion, with respect to the proclivity of Justice of the Peace Shousterman to bring her own motion to quash certificates of offence,” Edwards continued.

“Her decision to quash the certificate of offence where there was no motion by the respondent to do so was a clear error of law. It is clear from her earlier decisions that she knew she did not have the jurisdiction to quash the certificate of offence yet she proceeded to do what she knew she had no jurisdiction to do and thus challenged the prosecution to appeal.”

In the end, Edwards quashed Shousterman’s decision on the ticket. But he made it clear he wanted to emphasize the importance of stare decisis.  “Ultimately, we all have to abide by the decisions of an appellate court. Justices of the peace, like judges of this court, are human and may not always like the decision of an appellate court. Fundamentally, however, we must all abide by the decisions of the higher court whether we like it or not.”

The Ontario Securities Commission is seeking comment on its proposed whistleblower program.

The OSC says the program, which is an effort to encourage the reporting of serious securities-related misconduct, would be the first of its kind for securities regulators in Canada. Most notably, it would provide eligible whistleblowers up to $5 million if the OSC recovers funds.

“The OSC recognizes that whistleblowers are an incredibly valuable source of information. We are providing strong incentives for them to come forward. Our whistleblower program is well considered, and we believe it will result in real-time tips on complex securities law matters that may otherwise be difficult for us to detect,” said chairman and chief executive officer Howard Wetston. “This is a game changer for the OSC and our ability to achieve stronger outcomes for investors and the capital markets.”

Besides the $5-million cap, the policy would also allow for payments of up to $1.5 million regardless of whether the regulator recovers any money or not. Eligible whistleblowers include directors and officers, chief compliance officers, in-house legal counsel, and culpable whistleblowers. The regulator is seeking comment by Jan. 12, 2016 and aims to have the program in place by the spring.

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

Canadians already had some input on the niqab issue during the Oct. 19 election, but Law Times also sought its readers’ thoughts as the vote got underway last month. According to the poll, 60 per cent of respondents felt the federal government shouldn’t try to continue to ban the niqab at citizenship ceremonies.

The outgoing Conservative government, of course, has vigorously fought the issue in the courts, but the matter is now likely moot given the position taken by the Liberal party to oppose the ban.
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The Ontario Bar Association bestowed its annual award for excellence in civil litigation on Torys LLP’s Patricia Jackson last week.

A litigator for more than 35 years, Jackson “has earned a reputation as a trailblazer, educator, and devoted lawyer,” the OBA said in announcing the award.

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One of the key players at Goldman Sloan Nash & Haber LLP is retiring this month.

The firm reports that Harvey Haber will be retiring on Oct. 31. “We wish Harvey every happiness in the future,” the firm said in a newsletter item announcing Haber’s retirement.

While he has more than 40 years of experience with a specialization in commercial leasing, Haber remains in the legal field as a panel member at COE ADR Management, a dispute resolution company based in Toronto.


Borden Ladner Gervais LLP has named a litigator to serve as its first national director of diversity and inclusion.

Laleh Moshiri, who started at the firm as a litigator in the health law group and more recently served as the senior director of professional services at its Toronto office, will fill the new role. “I am thrilled about this new opportunity because BLG already has a culture that embraces diversity,” said Moshiri.

“I look forward to building on this strength as we work on new initiatives and continue to build a diverse and inclusive workplace.”

The firm says the new role reflects its commitment to diversity. “This new position underscores the importance of diversity and inclusion at BLG,” said Phil Donnelly, chief talent officer at BLG.

“Diversity and inclusion is a core pillar in our overall talent strategy, which encompasses the entire organization — both our legal and business services professionals.”


The Ontario government has announced a couple of measures on auto insurance and pensions as well as the province’s business laws.

On Oct. 8, the government announced it had appointed David Marshall as an adviser on auto insurance and pensions as of Feb. 1, 2016. Marshall, president and chief executive officer of the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board, will advise the government on ways to further cut auto insurance costs and implement the new Ontario retirement pension plan.

In other news, the province is creating a new advisory council on reforming Ontario’s business laws. It follows recommendations from the business law agenda stakeholder panel earlier this year that called for continuous review and modernization of Ontario’s corporate and commercial laws, a task the new advisory council will take on.

The new advisory council will include up to 12 members. It comes as the province says it’s making changes to three laws: the Business Corporations Act, the Business Names Act, and the Personal Property Security Act. According to the province, the changes will make it easier to do business; simply processes by, for example, allowing one signature instead of two when approving financial statements; and provide clarity in business transactions by ensuring only independent auditors can conduct business audits.


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

According to the poll, respondents narrowly favour the new Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement. About 41 per cent of participants said the agreement is good for Canada and agreed the country must be a part of such deals and expand free trade.

Following closely behind were the 40 per cent of respondents who felt the deal isn’t good for Canada and will imperil important sectors while delivering few benefits.

A further 19 per cent of respondents felt it was too early to tell whether the deal would be good for Canada or not.

The poll follows the announcement this month of the deal involving 12 countries covering a $28.5-trillion market. The deal has attracted particular scrutiny for the potential impact on the supply-management and auto sectors in Canada.


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Law Times poll

Law Times reports lawyers need to improve their social media skills to properly represent their clients as litigation involving evidence from social media platforms surges. Have you used evidence from social media platforms in your practice?
Yes, I have used evidence from these social media platforms in my practice.
No, this is not something that impacts my practice at all.