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Archive for ‘Administration of Slaw’

Checking the Age of Online Purchasers

There is a private member’s bill before the House of Lords in Britain — Online Purchasing of Goods and Services (Age Verification) Bill [HL] 2008-09 — to require online retailers to verify the age of people buying goods whose purchase is restricted by age, e.g. liquor or cigarettes. It is described here.

Some scepticism has been expressed about its desirability, in part based on the difficulty of actually doing what the law would require.

Do you think this kind of law would be a good idea here? Or should we accept as a fact that age restrictions on purchases . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw, Substantive Law, ulc_ecomm_list

People Expect More From Government Today

Fifty years ago, if we were to ask Canadians, “What are your expectations of government?” the answer would likely be: “I expect that my government should make good decisions.” Meeting this expectation by making laws, regulations and policies that treated everyone the same seemed an acceptable standard of fairness.

Within the next 20 years, provincial ombudsman offices came into being in Canada and began responding to complaints about instances where those good substantive decisions were not being made – but something else was happening too. As Canada’s population grew and society became more complex, governments at the federal, provincial and . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger, Substantive Law

Fairness Principles v. Legal Rights

The quintessential work of a parliamentary ombudsman requires the application of fairness principles to the decisions, actions and general conduct of the public service. These principles require that those decisions, actions and conduct be reasonable; consistent with law; just; and not oppressive or improperly discriminatory.

As a practicing lawyer for over twenty years, I am constantly reminded of the benefits of judicial and quasi-judicial avenues to determine citizens’ legal rights. These benefits include a structured procedure to determine legal rights; access to and the application of established precedents, a rich and sometimes codified body of principles to determine what evidence . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger, Substantive Law

Administrative Justice in British Columbia – the Road Less Travelled

Representing the best interests of the client, the adversarial system, and legally enforceable court decisions — these are the signposts on the well-travelled road to justice in the common law system. All you need is access to the resources necessary to pursue a case through to the end of the process.

But what if you lack those resources?

In the arena of administrative justice, the ombudsman’s office is a sort of “soft-power” alternative to the “hard-power” of the legal system. Accessible via a 1-800 phone call and available free of charge, this route may be the only option available to . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger, Substantive Law

The Ombudsman’s Equitable Intervention

“That the Ombudsman’s powers of investigation and reporting were meant to extend beyond those cases in which the complaining party asserts a cause of action is evident […] it was, at least in part, the lack of any remedy at law for many administrative injustices that gave rise to the creation of the office of Ombudsman.”[1. British Columbia Development Corporation c. Friedmann (Ombudsman), [1984] 2 R.C.S. 447, pp. 468-469]

The Quebec Ombudsman is entrusted by the National Assembly with supervising the administration of government, protecting rights and strengthening the rule of law and the democratic values that . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger, Substantive Law

The Ombudsman as “Architect of Better Governance”

Ombudsmen are a rather strange breed of public official –- we have very robust investigative powers, such as the ability to examine witnesses under oath and to gain entry into government premises. But we have no powers of enforcement. We cannot impose a solution or make our recommendations binding.

Nevertheless, we can recommend resolutions, not only to address individual grievances, but also to promote broad policy changes. In this way, we have the potential to positively affect thousands -– even millions –- of citizens.

Our key to success is the use of moral suasion -– persuading our governments to do . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger, Substantive Law

Firm Guest Blogger: Ombudsmen

As our guest this month we have not a firm but the Ombudsmen from the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan.

Also, we are inviting our guests to join us a week earlier than usual this month because the Canadian Council of Parliamentary Ombudsman chose this week to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the modern parliamentary ombudsman — the first one was established in Sweden in 1809 — and to raise awareness of the important work that ombudsmen do today.

Speaking of “ombudsmen,” I should record here that the plural of “ombudsman” is a somewhat . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw, Firm Guest Blogger

Nicole Garton-Jones

We are very pleased indeed to announce that Nicole Garton-Jones is joining Slaw as a regular contributor. Nicole is the principal of Heritage Law, a Vancouver law firm, and practices in the areas of wills and estates, family law and mediation. She is a graduate of U.B.C., Leadership Vancouver and the Womens’ Campaign School and is on the board of Continuing Legal Education BC and the Pacific Legal Technology Conference.

Among the things that are interesting about Heritage Law is the fact that it is a “virtual” law firm — or an “e-lawyering” practice, as some prefer. Nicole, her . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw

More on Social Media and the Courts

We have recently learned of the Alberta order for service of process by Facebook.

An English court has now ordered service of a injunction via Twitter — where the Twitter user was anonymous, impersonating a blogger (it’s a complicated world out there!): http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8285954.stm

I suppose there could be interesting questions if the Twitter user was not in the jurisdiction of the court, depending on (among other things) whether the rules of practice permit service out of the jurisdiction without prior leave of the court.

The complainant thought it was more efficient to get an ex parte injunction and serve it . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw, Substantive Law, ulc_ecomm_list

Slaw Implements Google Translator

As an experiment, Slaw has installed a new Google feature that can automatically translate a website into the language used by the viewer’s browser. Thus, when we have a reader who comes to us with a browser set to read French or German or Arabic — or any of 50 languages — the reader will see a bar at the top offering in the reader’s language to translate Slaw into that language automatically. Readers who come to us with browsers set to English should be unaffected by this feature.

It may be that our French-speaking readers will find this annoying, . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw

David Whelan

If you look to your right — while this post is at the top of Slaw’s main page — you’ll see that we have a new columnist. David Whelan is getting his feet wet by subbing for Wendy Reynolds, our regular Extreme Lib columnist, who is busy this month wrestling a new job to the ground. David, as most of you might know, is the head librarian, or Manager of Legal Information, at the Great Library at Osgoode Hall, maintained by the Law Society of Upper Canada.

A lawyer and a librarian, David brings to us a great deal of . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw

Online Defamation – Single Publication Rule?

The government of the United Kingdom is thinking about instituting a ‘single publication’ rule for online defamation. Here’s a story about that issue, with a link to the government’s consultation paper.

The single publication rule is an American rule that makes a limitation period for defamation run from the first publication of the defamatory statement. If the defamation remains available, say through the continuing availability of a book or through a newspaper archive, that does not restart the limitation period. US courts have applied that rule to Internet publications.

Canadian and British courts do not have a single publication rule . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw, Legal Information, Legal Information: Publishing, Substantive Law, ulc_ecomm_list