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“Old Brain Thinking”

When I left a mid-sized firm to set up my own litigation practice three years ago, to describe my approach to civil litigation I used Seneca’s famous axiom which frames my business logo – “Truth hates delay”.

That message reverberates with new power through a decision released this month by Justice F. L. Myers in Letang v. Hertz Canada.

Myers J. refused a defendant’s request to adjourn a trial to permit discovery on 465 pages of documents produced by the plaintiff a month before trial.

The new productions suggested the plaintiff’s damages were $120,000 higher than the $3.5 million sought . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Avoiding Communications Claims in Wills & Estates Law

No matter what the area of practice, the number one source of claims at LAWPRO is a breakdown in communication between the lawyer and client.

Between 2008 and 2013, nearly 4,600 communications claims – an average of 762 a year – have been reported to LAWPRO. The total cost of these claims to date is about $158 million – and likely to rise as more recent years’ claims are resolved.

In the Fall 2011 issue of LAWPRO Magazine we asked LAWPRO claims counsel with expertise in the various areas of law to provide insights into the communications mistakes they see . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

U of T Watson Team 2nd in University Competition

Congratulations to the team from the University of Toronto for their second place finish in the first IBM Watson Cognitive Computing Competition. Their legal research application Ross “allows users to ask Watson legal questions related to their case work, speeding research and guiding lawyers to pertinent information to help their case.” You can get a feel for Ross in this short video demo from the competition.

First place, and the winners of $100,000 in seed funding, went to the University of Texas at Austin for CallScout which aims to provide easy access to information about social . . . [more]

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

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 sixty 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. Environmental Law and Litigation  2. Rule of Law 3. Legal Sourcery  4. Global Workplace Insider  5. Canadian Legal History Blog

Environmental Law and Litigation
Divisional Court rejects anti-wind constitutional claim

Anti-wind protesters continue to lose all Ontario legal cases based on concerns about human health. After numerous anti-wind appeals . . . [more]

Posted in: Monday’s Mix

Understand Your Best Clients and Win Their Next RFP

Request for proposal. Those three words are usually the start of a slow churning stomach ache that burns until the moment your response is sent and received. And confirmed three times over. This is especially true, I have found many times over, if the request is lobbed into your office by a current client.

The potential to lose the work, and, I suppose, to lose face among both clients and colleagues, can be stressful.

Proposal responses do not require a law degree or legal drafting. In fact, they usually require plain language, practical responses and succinct promises. I often . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Marketing

Everything You Thought You Knew About Labour Law

Sometimes judges get it wrong. Even when they sit on the highest court of the land.

The nature of the common law is that decisions which are poorly written (a generous excuse for decisions which are poorly decided) still have binding authority, especially when made by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The interpretation of freedom of association under s. 2(d) of the Charter has undergone considerable change over the years. Courts generally applied a restrictive approach towards this right, until the 2007 decision in Health Services and Support — Facilities Subsector Bargaining Assn. v. British Columbia (“B.C. Health“), . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Summaries Sunday: Maritime Law Book

Summaries of selected recent cases are provided each week to Slaw by Maritime Law Book. Every Sunday we present a precis of the latest summaries, a fuller version of which can be found on MLB-Slaw Selected Case Summaries at cases.slaw.ca.

This week’s summaries concern:
Mechanics’ Liens – Civil Rights – Criminal Law – Police

Yorkwest Plumbing Supply Inc. v. Nortown Plumbing (1998) Ltd. et al. 2014 ONCA 5655
Mechanics’ Liens
Summary: Nortown Plumbing (1998) Ltd. was a contractor for plumbing services for new homes in two residential subdivisions. Yorkwest Plumbing Supply Inc. supplied Nortown with plumbing materials which . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

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.

CONSTITUTIONNEL (DROIT) : Un juge d’une cour fédérale qui était membre du Barreau du Québec avant son accession à la magistrature peut être nommé à la Cour d’appel du Québec ou à la Cour supérieure du Québec.

Intitulé : Renvoi sur l’article 98 de la Loi constitutionnelle de 1867 (Dans . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

Legislative Intelligibility and the Rule of Law

At some point in our education, we learn that we live in a nomocracy, a society governed by the rule of law. Although the phrase trips lightly off the tongue of judges and deans at call ceremonies, it is in fact a complex and enormously important concept that underpins our system of government and separates Canada from not only North Korea but from more junior democracies, like Thailand and Egypt, prone to coups d’état.

Apart from meaty ideas about fundamental justice, arbitrary decision-making and the independence and interrelationship of the branches of government, the rule of law also describes certain . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Evidence of Official Documents Online: A Problem?

Governments increasingly are putting official documents online without any paper ‘original’ or equivalent. Does that present challenges in practice for proving those documents?

What is your experience producing in court or generally under the evidence statutes official government documents that appear only online?

There is good statutory support for producing documents ‘printed’ by government, sometimes by class of document but sometimes as broad as ‘other public document’.

Will courts accept a printout of a web page (or, I suppose, a live in-court online presentation of a web page) showing a government URL as being ‘published by the Queen’s Printer’, at . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation, Technology: Internet, ulc_ecomm_list

Search Engine Results as Evidence

Can you / should you / do you rely on the product of search engines as evidence in civil or criminal matters? Do you base legal advice on what you find on search engines, or on the use made of them?

A recent article in Canadian Lawyer canvasses some of the possibilities.

The Ontario Superior Court held that one could not establish facts by showing how often certain terms were used in Google searches. That was for the purpose of the certification of a class action.

However, showing previous use or actual use of trade marks can be done . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

The Friday Fillip: Immortal Hand or Eye?

What is it about beauty? You can’t eat it. You can’t spend it. You can’t get agreement on it. Yes, what is beauty, anyway?

Some would say it depends on whom you ask — that is, that beauty lies, well, not in the holder but in the beholder, a projection, in effect. Others would espouse a version of that in which the beholder is an entire culture and beauty is a matter of group-think. Still others go even wider, making beauty a phenom of nature, which is more or less to say that beauty is an objective reality at least . . . [more]

Posted in: The Friday Fillip