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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. Battiston v. Microsoft Canada Inc., 2020 ONSC 4286 (CanLII)

[33] However, Professor McCamus adds that sometimes, even with a signed agreement, inadequate notice of a particularly unfair term may render that term unenforceable, at p. 194:

In many contractual settings, it will not be expected that a signing party will take time to read the agreement. Even if the document is read, it may well be, especially in the context of consumer transactions, the purport of particular provisions of the agreement will not be understood by the signing party. Under traditional doctrine, then, although the fact of the signature appears to dispense with the notice issue, the opportunities for imposing harsh and oppressive terms on an unsuspecting party are, as a practical matter, as present in the context of signed documents as they are in the context of unsigned documents. Accordingly, it is perhaps not surprising that the recent jurisprudence indicates that notice requirements are migrating into the context of signed agreements.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

2. R. v. Sharma, 2020 ONCA 478 (CanLII)

[69] Sections 742.1(c) and 742.1(e)(ii) are facially neutral. On their face, they apply equally to all offenders. However, it is in their effect that they create a distinction.

[70] Aboriginal offenders start from a place of substantive inequality in the criminal justice system. The overincarceration of Aboriginal people is one of the manifestations of that substantive inequality, which prompted Parliament to create the community-based conditional sentence and direct sentencing judges to consider that sanction, along with all others that do not involve imprisonment, when determining an appropriate punishment for Aboriginal offenders. The conditional sentence is one means of redressing the substantive inequality of Aboriginal people in sentencing. It is certainly the case that conditional sentences are available to all offenders, not just Aboriginal offenders. However, the legislative history and jurisprudence demonstrate that conditional sentences take on a unique significance in the context of Aboriginal offenders by conferring the added benefit of remedying systemic overincarceration. By removing that remedial sentencing option, the impact of the impugned provisions is to create a distinction between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal offenders based on race.

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

3. Atlantic Lottery Corp. Inc. v. Babstock, 2020 SCC 19 (CanLII)

[15] A central issue in this case arises from the plaintiffs’ reliance on the doctrine of waiver of tort. The plaintiffs say that a claim relying on waiver of tort as an independent cause of action for disgorgement has at least a reasonable chance of succeeding at trial. Before the Court of Appeal’s decision in this case, however, no Canadian authority had recognized such a cause of action, although the plaintiffs rely on a line of class action certification decisions in which courts have refrained from finding that it is plain and obvious that such an action does not exist. The plaintiffs place significant emphasis on Pro‑Sys Consultants Ltd. v. Microsoft Corporation, 2013 SCC 57, [2013] 3 S.C.R. 477 (“Microsoft”) where this Court, citing conflicting authorities on this point, declined to resolve it (para. 97).

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

The most-consulted French-language decision was Ward c. Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (Gabriel et autres), 2019 QCCA 2042 (CanLII)

[41] Comme celui-ci le souligne au paragraphe [77] de ses motifs, c’est le plus souvent dans le cadre d’une action en diffamation que les tribunaux sont appelés à déterminer si des propos ou des écrits portent atteinte à la dignité, à l’honneur ou à la réputation d’une personne ou, dit autrement, si des propos sont injurieux ou diffamatoires. Les règles qui régissent, en droit civil québécois, une telle voie d’action sont connues et ont comme fondement l’article 1457 C.c.Q. : le demandeur doit prouver l’existence d’une faute, d’un préjudice et du lien de causalité. Dans ce type de litige, le décideur est souvent appelé, aux fins de déterminer si une « faute civile » a été commise, à statuer sur la délicate question du « point d’équilibre »[22] entre deux valeurs fondamentales qui s’opposent, soit, d’une part, le droit à la dignité, à l’honneur et à la réputation de la personne qui s’estime victime de propos diffamatoires (art. 4 de la Charte) et, d’autre part, la liberté d’expression de l’auteur des propos litigieux (art. 3 de la Charte).

(Check for commentary on CanLII Connects)

* As of January 2014 we measure the total amount of time spent on the pages rather than simply the number of hits; as well, a case once mentioned won’t appear again for three months.

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