Canada’s online legal magazine.

Balancing Safety and Freedom of the Press

The state of the media in Canada is increasingly precarious, with several newspaper chains demonstrating indicators of financial difficulty. Reader’s Digest filed for bankruptcy in 2009, and just last year Postmedia merged with Sun, La Presse in Montreal ceased weekday prints, Guelph Mercury went digital only, and the Toronto Star announced layoffs and shutdowns.

Except for some niche news outlets, newspapers might be soon just be a thing of the 20th century.

The biggest casualty in these financial woes is the lack of independent and investigative journalism, given the resources and difficulty in producing this type of content. . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Summaries Sunday: SOQUIJ

Every week we present the summary of a decision handed down by a Québec court provided to us by SOQUIJ and considered to be of interest to our readers throughout Canada. SOQUIJ is attached to the Québec Department of Justice and collects, analyzes, enriches, and disseminates legal information in Québec.

PÉNAL (DROIT) : Une infraction qui ne comporte pas de négligence au sein de ses éléments essentiels mais dont les effets sont semblables aux effets d’une conduite négligente est visée par l’article 752 sévices graves à la personne a) (ii) C.Cr.

Intitulé : R. c. Viens, 2017 QCCA 377
Juridiction . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

Calling a Spade a Spade – It’s Probably a Shovel: Standards of Proof in Administrative Proceedings

One of the predominant topics in any discussion about administrative law is standard of review. The standard of review is at the heart of judicial review proceedings. What I find much more interesting is standard of proof. The vast majority of administrative law decisions never go to judicial review, or even to an administrative appeal tribunal. The decision at first instance is often the final decision. From that perspective, the standard of proof is a far more important concept.

Statutory Standards of Proof

For administrative tribunals, the default is the civil standard of proof on the balance of probabilities, subject . . . [more]

Posted in: Administrative Law

Leadership Styles for Practice Group/Client Team Leaders

Law firm marketers have been fundamental to the establishment and management of many law firm practice groups and client teams in North American law firms. Critical to the success of these efforts has been the ability to help train team members in their respective roles. Toward the end of my time in-house, I conducted research on what makes for a successful or failed team. The number one reason in both instances? Leadership. If you are charged with starting, running or overseeing a practice group or client team – or if you have any leadership role in your firm (such as . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Thursday Thinkpiece: McMahon on the Excruciatingly Gradual Civilization of Canada’s Legal System

Each Thursday we present a significant excerpt, usually from a recently published book or journal article. In every case the proper permissions have been obtained. If you are a publisher who would like to participate in this feature, please let us know via the site’s contact form.

Why Did It Take So Long for Indian Residential School Claims to Come to Court? The Excruciatingly Gradual Civilization of Canada’s Legal System.

Thomas L. McMahon (SSRN profile) was Executive Secretary of Manitoba’s Aboriginal Justice Inquiry (1988-1991) and General Legal Counsel of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2009-2015), and in the . . . [more]

Posted in: Thursday Thinkpiece

Judgmental Judges

Judges exercise considerable power, and discharge a crucial public function. They identify, interpret and even create the rules that govern us. They decide what happened. And they determine the legal consequences of what happened.

But judges also exercise a defined and limited public function, and in doing so they are human, not superhuman. Judges determine and apply the law, but they do not decide questions of morality outside the law; they do not decide what it means to be a good person except as the law defines goodness. They do not – except in the specific ways the law asks . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Did Transport Canada Just Ground the Canadian Hobbyist Drone Market?

Transport Canada just put in force an order regarding the recreational use of model aircraft, enforceable by a $3,000 fine. Details are in the graphic below and on the Transport Canada Web site.

Operation of a drone over 35 kg, or for commercial use, has not changed, and still requires a Special Flight Operations Certificate.

Restrictions on flying near airports and aircraft are understandable.

But you can’t operate a model aircraft “at a lateral distance of less than 250 feet (75m) from buildings, structures, vehicles, vessels, animals and the public including spectators, bystanders or any person not associated with . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation

Wednesday: What’s Hot on CanLII

Each Wednesday we tell you which three English-language cases and which French-language case have been the most viewed* on CanLII and we give you a small sense of what the cases are about.

For this last week:

1. Abdulaali v Salih, 2017 ONSC 1609

1. The next time anyone at Legal Aid Ontario tells you they’re short of money, don’t believe it. It can’t possibly be true. Not if they’re funding cases like this.

2. The facts are simple. There are no complicated legal issues. Hardly worth a written endorsement, really.

3. But every now and then taxpayers ought . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

What’s Not on CANLII – Playing the Devil’s Advocate

CANLII at 15

CANLII recently passed its fifteenth birthday, with announcements and pronouncements about its many notable achievements. Missing however, from the self-congratulatory posts, rationalizations for incomplete case law databases, and the unfulfilled promise of expanding its meagre coverage of secondary, was any realistic critique of what had been achieved and what remains to be done if it is to become a useful tool for legal research. A “devil’s advocate” seems to be required.

Legal Research

Legal research is more than checking recent cases. Legal research is more than checking current legislation.

The Canadian Legal Research and Writing Guide (formerly . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Publishing

What Makes a Proper Affidavit?

In opposed motions, many arguments masquerade as affidavits. This is improper. For the most part, legal argument should be confined to factums.

In Ferreira v. Cardenas, 2014 ONSC 7119, Justice Myers eloquently sets out the rules on affidavits sworn in support of motions:

[14] Lawyers’ affidavits can be quite helpful in cases where the lawyers, or their staff, have particular knowledge relevant to the facts in issue before the court. In Mapletoft v. Christopher J. Service2008 CanLII 6935 (ON SC) at para. 15, Master MacLeod provided the following guidelines for the use of lawyers’ affidavits:

  1. For the
. . . [more]
Posted in: Case Comment

Tips Tuesday

Here are excerpts from the most recent tips on SlawTips, the site that each week offers up useful advice, short and to the point, on research, writing, and practice.

Practice

Talking to Lawyers About Words
Sandra Bekhor

Accountants are trained in numbers. Architects are trained in design. And lawyers are trained in words. As a lawyer, when you speak or write, you choose your words judiciously. Am I right? Every. Single. Word. Means. Something. Very. Specific. That is all well and good when it comes to serving clients as a lawyer. Not as well or good when it comes . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday

Learning From Failure at the Oscars

By now, you’ve probably heard about the stunning failure at the Oscars ceremony, even if in Canada the Oscars play second fiddle to the Canadian Screen Awards.

To recap, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway presented the award for Best Picture to La La Land. The producers of that film took the stage, celebrated, and made the obligatory endless thank-you speech… until they were interrupted and told that the award actually belonged to Moonlight.

Oops.

Or as Plattville, Wisconsin library so brilliantly put it:

We can learn a lot about project failure from studying the video of the award . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law