Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for August, 2017

Crossing Borders With Digital Devices

Lots of lawyers have been worried about having their digital devices inspected at the U.S. border in recent years, and more so under the current administration – but there are other countries that are not generally trusted either.

The New York City Bar Association has issued an ethics opinion telling lawyers they need to take special steps to protect confidential and privileged client information in such circumstances – possibly including using ‘burner’ phones or laptops (ones with no confidential info, and that the owner can burn or otherwise just throw away after coming back from the country in question).

The . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

Smart Contracts Are Not What You Think

It is 2035. The US dollar is not a reserve currency anymore because nobody buys oil or borrows from the IMF or World Bank. IRS, once the biggest US-dollar creditor in the world, is struggling to tax decentralized cryptographically protected businesses freely operating across borders. A lot fewer economic players need US dollars because their debts (taxes, loans, and invoices) are not denominated in US dollars.

What does this have to do with smart contracts and lawyers you ask?

If technology, new energy sources, and rising third-world wealth cause these cataclysmic changes in the financial system, cryptoeconomies (aka blockchains) will . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology, Practice of Law

Thursday Thinkpiece: Julie Macfarlane on How Clients Are Transforming the Practice of Law

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.


 Julie Macfarlane
© 2017, UBC Press, Vancouver and Toronto, Canada

The following edited excerpts from the revised and updated second edition of my book, The New Lawyer, will I hope give you a good sense of both the core . . . [more]

Posted in: Thursday Thinkpiece

Artificial Intelligence and the Legal Profession

Artificial Intelligence is going to have a disruptive effect on the legal profession. The question is how soon, how much, and what areas of law come first. This kind of disruptive change builds up slowly, but once it hits a tipping point, it happens quickly.

Futurist Richard Worzel wrote an article titled Three Things You Need to Know About Artificial Intelligence that is worth a read. Here are some excerpts:

Every once in while, something happens that tosses a huge rock into the pond of human affairs. Such rocks include things like the discovery of fire, the invention of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Technology

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. R. v. Nyznik, 2017 ONSC 4392

[195] The Crown has failed to discharge its onus of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the complainant did not consent to the sexual acts she described. That does not mean that I necessarily believe the testimony of Mr. Nyznik that she freely and specifically consented to each and every act that occurred. It also . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

Final Report of Mediate BC’s BC Family Justice Unbundled Legal Services Project Now Available

As many of you know, unbundled legal services help to fill the gap for people who do not qualify for legal aid and cannot afford full representation. Law Societies in many jurisdictions have formally approved unbundling (also called limited scope legal services) but few lawyers were offering these services to the public. The purpose of the BC Family Justice Unbundled Legal Services Project (the “Project”) was to find ways to encourage more lawyers to offer these services.

After an 18 month process, I’m pleased to advise that the Project’s final report and the report of the independent evaluation of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Statutory Interpretation as Policy Development

Most lawyers and judges would cringe at the notion that courts develop policy when they interpret statutes. The legal profession indoctrinates that the role of the legislature is to enact policy through legislation and that it is for the courts to apply that law to resolve individual disputes. You would never hear a lawyer make an explicit appeal to policy when submitting statutory interpretation arguments before courts. Rather they invoke the intention of the legislature as the authority for their position. That the legal profession indulges in the fiction of a true or certain legislative intent in most cases speaks, . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

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.

Research & Writing

Finding Unconsolidated Legislation
Susannah Tredwell

One challenge with legislative research is when you need to find an older act that, although still in force, has not been included in the last statute revision. The most obvious examples of this are private acts, but there are other pieces of legislation that fall into this category. If you are looking for an older federal act and cannot find it

. . . [more]
Posted in: Tips Tuesday

Monday’s Mix

Each Monday we present brief excerpts of recent posts from five of Canada’s award­-winning legal blogs chosen at random* from more than 80 recent Clawbie winners. In this way we hope to promote their work, with their permission, to as wide an audience as possible.

This week the randomly selected blogs are 1. Canadian Class Actions Monitor 2. Family Health Law Blog 3. Off the Shelf 4. Global Workplace Insider 5. National Magazine

Canadian Class Actions Monitor
Farmer’s Odyssey: Prolonged Class Action Proceedings Against Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture Ends in Summary Dismissal

In Holland v Saskatchewan (Ministry of Agriculture),

. . . [more]
Posted in: Monday’s Mix

Conflicted Regulation in the Public Interest

Fiduciary law deals strictly with conflicts of interest. A fiduciary is not permitted to have an interest that conflicts with the duties owed to their beneficiary unless the conflict and all material facts have been disclosed and consent is obtained Sharbern Holding Inc. v. Vancouver Airport Centre Ltd., 2011 SCC 23. Where a fiduciary benefits without consent, the fiduciary is ordinarily required to disgorge the benefit whether or not the beneficiary’s interests have been compromised. Strother v. 3464920 Canada Inc., 2007 SCC 24

The Rules of Professional Conduct are no less strict. It is professional misconduct for . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Regulating the Future Flows of Big Data Overseas

The relevance of big data and artificial intelligence transcends process improvements in law alone, and will increasingly become the a significant subject matter within law. The impetus for this will be the increased reliance that private industries place on the collection, use and disclosure of consumer information.

Ramona Pringle of the CBC recently stated,

There was a time that oil companies ruled the globe, but “black gold” is no longer the world’s most valuable resource — it’s been surpassed by data.

“Data is clearly the new oil,” says Jonathan Taplin, director emeritus of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab and

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

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.

RESPONSABILITÉ : Les policiers n’ont commis aucune faute en utilisant de l’encre invisible pour marquer les appelants ni en les photographiant après leur arrestation pour refus d’obtempérer à un ordre d’évacuation d’un lieu public; toutefois, ils auraient dû retirer leurs menottes et les laisser repartir après avoir décidé de ne . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday