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The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is lamenting what it calls a “laxity” in certifying class actions in Canada, an issue it says is so significant that it threatens Canadian businesses.
BARRIE, Ont. — For decades, a massive portrait of Sir James Gowan hung in relative obscurity glancing a wary eye over what local lawyers affectionately call “settlement corner” at the Barrie courthouse.
Monday, 30 March 2015 08:00

Editorial: Another immigration blunder

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As the federal government continues to toy with the immigration system, it seems the landscape never stops shifting for those who hope to settle in Canada.
Ontario has various laws that go a long way in the attempt to provide an element of transparency and accountability from the government.
On Feb. 24, a Canadian citizen attended a courthouse in Montreal seeking to have her impounded vehicle released. What should have been a routine hearing on a mundane issue turned into a judicial fiasco that has brought the administration of justice into disrepute.
While litigation experts hired by a party to a lawsuit must comply with the comprehensive expert report rules set out in Rule 53.03 of the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure, participant experts such as treating health practitioners and non-party experts such as those hired by a non-party insurer don’t need to comply with the rule in order to provide expert opinion evidence at trial, according to the Ontario Court of Appeal in its pragmatic and much-anticipated decision in Westerhof v. Gee last week.
Monday, 30 March 2015 08:00

Two lawyers battle for PC crown

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There’s a good chance Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party will once again have a lawyer at its helm with frontrunners Christine Elliott and Patrick Brown both touting their legal backgrounds as an edge in the race.
There has been one constant since the Ontario Court of Appeal struck down the prohibition against possession of marijuana for medical reasons in 2000: the subsequent rules imposed by the federal government have been subject to repeated court challenges.
BOARDROOM DEDICATED TO ASSOCIATE CHIEF JUDGES
There’s now a boardroom at the Ontario Court of Appeal dedicated to the current and former associate chief justices.

The court invited retired associate chief justices John Morden, Coulter Osborne, and Dennis O’Connor to the opening of the newly dedicated boardroom on March 20.

The dedication honours “the substantial contribution these individuals have made and continue to make to the Court of Appeal for Ontario and the administration of justice in Ontario,” said Jacob Bakan, special counsel for the office of the chief justice.

There have been five associate chief justices in Ontario, according to Bakan. “In establishing this position, the governments of Canada and Ontario recognized the need for an associate chief justice to assist with the considerable administrative responsibilities associated with operating Canada’s busiest appellate court. Ontario remains the only province in Canada to have an associate chief justice at the appellate level.”

APPEAL WINDOW CLOSES IN TORYS CASE
The clock has run out for the Law Society of Upper Canada to appeal a second ruling that exonerated two Torys LLP lawyers in a conflict of interest case that went on for several years.

The law society prosecuted Darren Sukonick and Beth DeMerchant for conflict of interest related to the sale of the Hollinger group of companies between 2000 and 2003.

But in October 2013, a law society hearing panel found there was no evidence to find the pair guilty of professional misconduct. In February, the Law Society Tribunal dismissed the regulator’s appeal of that decision.

March 20, the deadline to appeal the second ruling, came and went without a notice of appeal from the law society.

GUILTY VERDICT IN OSC CASE AGAINST LAWYER
Former Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP lawyer Mitchell Finkelstein violated securities laws when he tipped his friend about impending corporate deals, the Ontario Securities Commission has found.

An OSC panel found against Finkelstein for insider tipping in three of the six transactions put before it. Paul Azeff, an investment adviser with CIBC and a good friend of Finkelstein’s, was on the receiving end of those tips.

In a ruling last week, the OSC relied partly on dozens of unexplained phone calls between Azeff and Finkelstein each year as well as 190 calls placed between them in 2007.

“We conclude that Finkelstein informed Azeff, between November 16 and 19 [2004], at least, that [Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.] had agreed to proceed quickly with a takeover transaction to which [Masonite International Corp.] acquiesced. Although it is not necessary to establish tipping, we also find that Finkelstein told Azeff of the pricing and structure of the transaction,” the OSC panel said in reference to one transaction in its ruling last week.

The panel also questioned Finkelstein’s manner of giving evidence, saying it “lacked spontaneity and was well-rehearsed.”

“He left the impression that his evidence was tightly controlled. The substance of his testimony ignored or touched lightly upon important elements that needed explanation.
He spoke very little of his relationship and communications with Azeff in the relevant period from 2004-2007,” the panel said.

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

According to the poll, 63 per cent of respondents say they’re not happy with the civil court facilities in their area.
A recent Law Times story noted some lawyers’ concerns about the court facilities for civil cases at 393 University Ave. in Toronto with one of them calling them a “disgusting hole.”

The Ministry of the Attorney General says the province has spent more than $3.6 million at the building, including “projects to improve accessibility, security, and program and public counter space.”

Among the key issues in this year's Law Society of Upper Canada bencher election is the future of the Law Practice Program. To hear some candidates' thoughts on the issue, visit our bencher election web site: "Should LSUC press ahead with Law Practice Program?"
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Law Times poll

Have class actions in Canada gotten out of control?
Yes, they're costing businesses too much as judges are too willing to certify.
No, the courts are appropriately applying the law in a way that provides access to justice.