Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for ‘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

Professional Responsibility as Reconciliation: Law School and Legal Obligations

An accused has a constitutional right to a fair trial and may raise concerns about race and discrimination if they identify it as an issue in their case. Furthermore, lawyers have an obligation to remind their client of this right. This very issue arose in R v Fraser (Fraser). In Fraser, a white student accused a Black high school teacher of committing “sexual improprieties”. The appellant raised concerns about racial bias both before and during the jury selection, but his lawyer nonetheless failed to tell Fraser that he had the right to challenge for cause. Upon . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools, Justice Issues, Law Student Week

Infanticide: Should It Remain a Criminal Offence?

Infanticide as a criminal offence sprang about centuries ago, dating back to the 1600s. It was a crime that punished women, particularly poor women who sought to escape the oppressive stigma of having a child out of wedlock.

However, by the turn of the 20th century, courts were often unwilling to convict women that murdered their babies. In response, England enacted the Infanticide Act.

In R. v. Borowiec, 2016 SCC 11, Justice Cromwell writes at paragraph 27:

The adoption of the Infanticide Act, 1922 was intended to remedy the fact that judges and juries were reticent to

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues

More Than Just Rhetorical Questions

I am a professional working woman. My mother was, until her retirement, a professional working woman. My daughter will, I expect, be a professional working woman when she completes her education.

Issues related to the (in)equality of working women therefore are of particular significance to me.

Yesterday was Equal Pay Day in the U.S. This is a day that marks the point in time each year when women in the workforce will have earned enough to catch up to the earnings of men in the previous year. Did you get that?

In the U.S., women need to work for more . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Constitutional Amendments for Electoral Reform

On November 11, 1947, Winston Churchill said to the British House of Commons,

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…

The concept has been attributed to Churchill himself, but it’s clear he was quoting another unknown source. In the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, social scientists have explored with wonder . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

The Susskinds on the End of Tomorrow’s Professions

Lawyers like to think they’re unique.

This exceptionalism can explain in part our resistance to change, and our inability to adopt best practices from other industries. Sometimes it limits our ability to recognize that our challenges are part of larger societal trends which everyone is facing.

In The End of Lawyers?: Rethinking the nature of legal services, Richard Susskind explored alternative methods of providing legal services, while pointing to some of the many failings of the existing models of delivery. In Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future, he goes further, and describes the types of new jobs . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice