Canada’s online legal magazine.

Potential Legal Battle to Ensue Over Transit Employees’ Right to Strike

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter) guarantees that everyone has the “freedom of association” (section 2(d)). The Charter’s guarantee of freedom of association has often been leveraged to protect employees’ rights in the labour relations context. According to recent media reports, the union that represents the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) employees is looking to rely on section 2(d) to combat provincial legislation that declares the TTC an essential service and prohibits its employees from striking.

In January 2015, section 2(d) was successfully used to persuade a majority of the Supreme Court of Canada to . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

A Duty to Be Tech-Savvy?

Bob Ambrogi blogged this morning that two more U.S. states have adopted amendments to their legal profession rules of conduct that include technological competence as part of a lawyer’s overall duty of competence, bringing the total number of states having adopted this duty to 17. The duty first appeared in the ABA Model Rules in 2012, as Comment 8 to Rule 1.1, as follows:

To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and

. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law, Technology

James Bond, Spectre, and the Surveillance Society

I don’t normally do movie reviews, but Spectre, the latest James Bond movie, has a cautionary tale about the surveillance society that is worth commenting on. It deals with the undemocratic / totalitarian / dystopian aspects of ubiquitous surveillance.

Some reviewers have been critical about the movie, but my view of Bond movies is that they are more about entertainment than plot and character development.

Some elements of the movie are uncomfortably real – like its spin on the five eyes network . After I saw it I wondered what Ed Snowden would think. This is what Wikipedia has to . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw, Miscellaneous

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. R. v. Morris, 2011 ONSC 5142

12. The defence argued that, because the police did not believe Mr. Morris had committed an HTA infraction, they did not have an HTA-related purpose for stopping Mr. Morris’ vehicle. In so arguing, the defence pointed to Officer Ciric’s candid statement that, but for the “Caution”, he would not have pulled over the car. Because . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

Problems With Bitcoins as Money?

As you know, the Canadian Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce published earlier this year a report on Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Bradley Crawford, author of the leading banking law treatise in Canada, has recently written a commentary on that report and on digital currencies generally. That comment – quite critical of the Senate’s report – will be added to his treatise later this month.

He raises one issue that seems to me particularly important to those who promote the use of digital currencies in commercial exchanges: the transfer of control of units of Bitcoin (or equivalent) . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

Landlord Facing 305 Charges and 61 Outstanding Work Orders Fails to Convince Judge That Waterloo’s Rental Housing Licensing Program Is Unconstitutional

A residential landlord is $50,000 poorer after unsuccessfully challenging the constitutionality of the City of Waterloo’s Rental Housing Licensing Program.

In 2011 the City of Waterloo implemented By-law047 and a new comprehensive rental housing licensing program. The purpose was, among other things, to improve the health and safety of residential tenants.

The program requires most landlords of low-rise units to submit:

  1. A general inspection report from the electrical safety authority (every 5 years);
  2. An HVAC certificate (every 5 years);
  3. Proof of insurance (required annually);
  4. A criminal record check (every 5 years); and
  5. A floor plan for each unit.

Landlords are . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment

Principle, Not Politics

The Law Society of Upper Canada ABS Working Group delivered an interim report to Convocation in September. In reading some of the subsequent comments, I was reminded of Nick Robinson’s thoughtful paper When Lawyers Don’t Get All the Profits. As he said in an interview with Cristin Schmitz:

I’ve been amazed in this debate how much each side kind of talks past each other, dismisses the concerns of the other side, or the point of the other side.

In its interim report, the Working Group reported that it would not further consider non-licensee ownership or control of traditional practices . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics

Tips Tuesday

Here are excerpts from the most recent tips on SlawTips, the site that each week offers up useful advice, short and to the point, on technology, research and practice.

Research & Writing

Deciphering Legal Citations
Susannah Tredwell

Legal citations like to pack the largest amount of information in the smallest amount of space. However, if you are not familiar with the abbreviation for a specific law journal or reporter, it can be tricky figuring out what is being referred to from a few scant letters. …


Map Your Future
David Bilinsky

“Think Different” was the slogan for Apple, . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday

Protecting the Team – a Firm’s Most Valuable Asset – by Reducing Stress

While the primary responsibility for wellness rests with the individual, nothing is more important to a law practice than its lawyers and staff. The “firm” – Big Law or a solo practice – can do nothing without people; the better those people feel, the more productive they will be, and the more profitable the firm will be. It follows that a firm has an interest in helping its people be healthy and well. How can a firm help?

Reduce Stress: Some stress is inherent and necessary in a law practice. Reducing unnecessary stress, however, will have a positive impact on . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Does Double Patenting Need New Rules?

Patents have been described as a quid pro quo – in return for disclosure of the invention, the inventor gets a time limited exclusive period to practice the invention. There are a number of rules and restrictions that restrict the ability to extend patent rights – i.e. get more than the patent owner bargained for, including ‘double patenting’ but some of the earlier concerns about extending patent protection through double patenting no longer apply under our current Patent Act which requires that patents and any divisional patents expire on the same day.

Double patenting is a restriction on getting multiple . . . [more]

Posted in: Intellectual Property

What Does It Really Mean to “Free the Law”? Part 2

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”


Attributed to Nelson Mandela, that quote fits the experience of groups around the world that sought over much of the past 20 years to make the law freely accessible on the internet. Beginning today (November 9th), dozens of members of the Free Access to Law Movement (FALM), along with other supporters, are meeting in Sydney, Australia where AustLII is hosting the 2015 Law via the Internet conference. Some countries attending are currently at the “impossible” stage and look to achievements in Canada and elsewhere for inspiration of what is possible. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Legal Information: Publishing, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Technology

Smart Lawyers Who Feel They Know Less

What is a good lawyer? What is a smarter lawyer, for that matter?

How we evaluate ourselves, and our colleagues, may have historically been based on outdated notions of an encyclopedic knowledge of the law. But in the era of search engines and legal databases, the utility of such skill sets are not nearly as useful as in the past.

Harvey Schachter of The Globe interviewed Edward Hess on how workers can improve in an era balancing on the precipice of machine learning:

…start to change your mental model of what “smart” looks like. We have been trained to believe

. . . [more]
Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice