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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Smoky Ethical Waters Around Marijuana Dispensaries

If you take a stroll pretty much anywhere in downtown Toronto these days, you’re likely to walk into one of the dozens of marijuana dispensaries that have popped up everywhere in the city. But just as quickly as they arrived, they are being shut down too.

On Thursday Toronto Police conducted a sting dubbed “Project Claudia,” with search warrants executed for 43 different locations, seizing 270 kg of products. That’s fine, these dispensaries are still illegal, and are not part of the process for distributing medically required marijuana use.

Project Claudia wasn’t just about shutting these dispensaries down. The police . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Evidence of Economic Benefits of Refugees From the EU

I remember in law school, my professor started our course in immigration law with a sound question, “apart from the CRA, which is the most profitable department in the Federal Government?” Apparently, the answer at the time was the department of immigration. The right of permanent residence fee (RPLF) was a whopping $975 per person, the initial fee for a humanitarian application was $1,100 and there were additional fees. Refugees coming to Canada were particularly burdened by these fees. Public pressure and litigation led to a review of onerous fees and many were reduced by 50%. It was clear then, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Media and the Law: Where Are the Law Journalists?

Where are the specialized law journalists in Canada? Can you name one? The media has left a gaping hole, leaving lawyers to fill the vacuum, to editorialize on the new cases, and to defend the legal system.

We can’t complain. This is our duty. However, in a time, where most people can name all Kardashians but can’t name the nine Supreme Court of Canada judges, we have a problem.

Paul Wells writes in In Search of the Ethical Lawyer: Stories from the Canadian Legal Profession, edited by Adam Dodek and Alice Woolley, that it’s not wickedness that has brought an . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Independence and Diversity of Appointments

This past Friday, I heard Jeffrey Simpson of The Globe speak in Ottawa to the 18th Biennial National Conference: New Developments in Communications Law and Policy on “Canada’s Policy Challenges and the Trudeau Government.”

Simpson noted that this was the most talented government he has ever seen, but also the most ambitious. Too much ambition on too many things, Simpson warned, may note bode well in accomplishing anything.

If there’s anything this new government does accomplish, it should be a good hard look at the appointments process.

Andrew Griffith, former Director General for Citizenship and Multiculturalism and author of several . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Learnings From the Demographic Data on Litigants Without Counsel

The demographic information on litigants without counsel available to date reveals a number of interesting patterns: most litigants appear to be 40 years old and older, and people in that age range are involved in litigation at rates far higher than those in younger age groups; although most litigants have lower incomes, a significant number have incomes around or exceeding the average income; and, litigants’ often high incomes match their educational achievements, which often exceed the average. All of this information strikes me as potentially useful when designing services and reforming processes for litigants without counsel.

In her 2013 report  . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Need for a Code of Conduct for Family Law Disputes

The Codes of Conduct of Canada’s various law societies set the standards of conduct expected of members of the profession. They are enforced through the law societies’ enabling legislation, which uniformly empower the societies to punish breaches with sanctions ranging from reprimand to disbarment.

The Codes of Conduct require us to find a balance between our obligations as advocates and the general duty to uphold the rule of law and practice with honour and integrity. It seems to me, however, that bar admission courses, intending to simultaneously instill a healthy respect for practice standards and a dread fear of complaints, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Barreau Du Quebec Position on Hourly Billing Report Long Overdue

On March 24, 2016, the Barreau du Quebec (Quebec Bar Association) released a report « La tarification horaire à l’heure de la réflexion » (in French only and translated to say Hourly Billing: A Time for Reflection) calling for an end to hourly billing by lawyers and law firms in the hope of improving access to justice for the public and a better work-life balance for lawyers. . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Education & Training: CLE/PD, Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Marketing, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology, Technology: Office Technology

Cultural Shift at IRCC: #Sunnydays

Two weeks ago, more than 500 immigration professionals descended into Vancouver for the sold-out annual CBA Immigration Conference. Minister McCallum gave the keynote address and members of his department presented on many aspects of immigration and refugee law, from overseas sponsorship applications for refugees to inadmissibility issues to the interpretation of Kanthasamy and its impact on H&C applications. Overall, the quality of speakers was superb (for the record, I was not a speaker) and the dialogue was candid and respectful. I will not get into the substantive points of the conference here but one point has stuck with me: since . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Judge Calls for Tenancy Law Reforms After Finding Tenant “Gaming the System”

An Ontario Superior Court Judge has expressed his hope that legislative changes will be made to stop unscrupulous tenants from “gaming the system”.

The facts of the case are straight forward and rather appalling.

The tenant entered into an agreement to lease a condominium in downtown Toronto starting in September, 2015. The rent for the first month cleared but the rent for October bounced. The tenant has not paid another cent since that time, although he continued to reside in the unit.

The landlord served a “Notice to End Tenancy Early for Non-Payment of Rent” on October 16, 2015. On . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Restrictions Placed on Retired Judges Who Return to Practice Do Not Go Far Enough

Retired judges who return to court as counsel pose a serious threat to the perception of judicial impartiality, an issue that recently caught the attention of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

On January 28, the Professional Regulation Committee made a series of policy amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct that deal with retired judges returning to practice.

Under the old Rule 7.7-1.4, judges who previously served on the Superior Court of Justice were permitted to appear in court as counsel after a three-year “cooling off” period. With the new amendments, retired Superior Court of Justice judges who want . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Law Student Week

Lawyers and Self-Represented Litigants

It is disheartening how many lawyers in litigation practices persist in the view that self-representing litigants (“SRLs”) are a problem that needs a solution.

I’ve written about this here before (see Shifting the Burden) and really my views haven’t changed, except in that there is more evidence than ever before that the needs and motivations of those who “choose” to represent themselves in litigation are complex and that this choice is made at their peril and often at significant personal cost.

Why rehash an old story (and indeed it isn’t new)? Because I spent two hours of my day . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Of Tweeters Laureate and Judicious Public Outreach

Last week’s BC Provincial Court’s #AskChiefJudge Twitter Town Hall went off with nary a glitch, and even received some fanfare in the Vancouver Sun for its being the first (known) instance of a time when a Canadian chief judge has taken to Twitter to answer live questions. Dave Bilinsky and Colin Lachance both shared news of this last week.

It proved many things—one of them being 2010 really is a pretty long time ago.

The Courts’ Affair with Twitter Since 2010

Back in 2010 only a fraction of courts even held a Twitter handle—7% according to a CCPIO report of . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous, Technology