Canada’s online legal magazine.

Breaking the Law for Good Reason?

A jury in the UK has decided that the threat of global warming justifies breaking the law.

Jurors accepted defence arguments that the six had a “lawful excuse” to damage property at Kingsnorth power station in Kent to prevent even greater damage caused by climate change. The defence of “lawful excuse” under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 allows damage to be caused to property to prevent even greater damage – such as breaking down the door of a burning house to tackle a fire.

This interesting tibit came across my screen from Russ Brown’s post on the University of . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Constitutional Scholar Gérald Beaudoin Passes Away

Former Senator Gérald Beaudoin, one of the giants of Canadian constitutional scholarship, passed away yesterday.

He was 79.

He was named to the Upper Chamber in 1988 by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and retired in 2004 at the mandatory age of 75.

Beaudoin taught law at the University of Ottawa where he served as dean of civil law 1969 to 1979.

He was a member of the Pépin-Robarts Commission, 1977-79, co-chairman of the Beaudoin-Edwards and of the Beaudoin-Dobbie committees on constitutional renewal.

He also presided over the Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs and was a member of . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Signets Du Juriste Québécois

Me Marco Rivard maintains a superb website for anyone interested in doing research in Québec law. Obiter2 sets out the links to the principal sources in the following categories:

1- Recherche de ressources juridiques et gouvernementales

2- Législation

3- Jurisprudence

4- Doctrine et information

5- Information juridique pour le grand public

6- Registres officiels et gouvernementaux

7- L’informatique au service du juriste

8- Divers outils utiles

9- Dictionnaires et orthographe

10- Les principaux portails québécois d’intérêt général . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research

Can Wikipedia Be a Source of Evidence?

Badasa v. U.S.: Here’s a US immigration case in which the US government offered information from Wikipedia to support its argument about the status of Ethiopian travel documents. The appeals court eventually found that this was not a good source of evidence, and sent the matter back for reconsideration.

ArsTechnica has the story.

Does this sound right to you? Would a print encyclopedia be any better?

I don’t see in this story any concern about the hearsay nature of the evidence — like that of any website, pretty well, surely — though that might depend on the use being . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Substantive Law, ulc_ecomm_list

A Little About Max Planck*

I am spending a month on an academic exchange at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg. This is a researcher’s heaven. There is a library of nearly 500,000 volumes covering about 200 (yes, 200!!) jurisdictions, with legislation, caselaw, journals, and monographs available for use in the library. The major databases, including key European West databases, are available to researchers. Every researcher has an allocated desk or office.

There are perhaps 100 users of the facilities at any one time, from all around the world. They are not here to undertake a specific degree, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research

U.S. Government Secrecy Continues to Rise

According to the Secrecy Report Card 2008 of the U.S. advocacy group, U.S. government secrecy continued to rise in 2007.

It is the organization’s fifth annual report assessing trends in public access to information in that Great Republic to the South.

A representative of the American Association of Law Libraries sits on the steering committee of the watchdog group that fights to push back government secrecy.

Among the highlights:

  • The American government spent $195 maintaining the secrets already on the books for every one dollar the government spent declassifying documents in 2007, a 5% increase in one year. At
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information

Feeling Weedy?

Summer is for weeding. The horticultural among us use the sunny days for tending to their gardens. The bibliocultural among us tend to our collections. This summer, as every summer, I read shelves, assessed collection strengths, and determined the fate of subscriptions and individual volumes – keep or chuck? Repair or replace? Track down missing volumes, or write them off? And I shifted, and I shifted, and I shifted. We’ve now got grow room in the areas that need it, and I got a great upper body workout.

Shifting books is one of those activities that permit contemplation. As I . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Thomas Cromwell Pages

Slaw is proud to announce The Thomas Cromwell Pages.

The selection of a new judge for the Supreme Court is an important event and now one that involves a protracted and intriguing process. Slaw believes it is important to make available widely as much relevant information as possible about the current nominee, Mr. Justice Cromwell. Accordingly we have created The Thomas Cromwell Pages, a collection of pages highlighting various aspects of Mr. Justice Cromwell’s work and the views that others hold of his suitability and judicial character.

In these pages you will find a selection of his judgments, 10 . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Substantive Law

Canadian Study Calls for “New IP”

An ad hoc group called the International Expert Group on Biotechnology, Innovation and Intellectual Property has released a report, “Toward a New Era of Intellectual Property: from Confrontation to Negotiation,” that is available at the website of The Innovation Partnership. It seems that the core movers behind the report come from McGill University’s Centre for Intellectual Property.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, the 40-page report, seven years in the making, calls for a reform of the IP system to return it to its root purpose of supporting innovation. An Executive Summary is available in PDF.

What strikes me is . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Oct 11 Is International Day of Protest Against Surveillance

Boing Boing has a recent post that refers to a day of protest being organized in the EU. Some excerpts:

An international protest against undue surveillance is being held next month on the 11th of October. It is ‘a broad movement of campaigners and organizations is calling on everybody to join action against excessive surveillance by governments and businesses’. We need to get this on the radar for the elections in the USA this year, the EU parliamentary elections next year and many more.

People who constantly feel watched and under surveillance cannot freely and courageously stand up for their . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Who Is Shaping the Election?

♫ If you’ve got a plan
If you’ve got a master plan
Got to vote for you
Hey hey, got to vote for you
‘Cause you’re the man… ♫

Words and music by: Marvin Gaye and Kenneth Stover.

The fall election – in both Canada and the USA – is taking place at a particularly interesting time. Courtesy of blogs, the public are making their voices heard to a degree that has not been possible in the past. Access to the media was not particularly easy in the past, but by virtue of the Internet, that no longer matters . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Miscellaneous, Substantive Law, Technology, Technology: Internet


Lexis has released a web search page, LexisWeb, that offers, in effect, federated searching across an unspecified number of law-related web pages from sites vetted by Lexis editorial staff.

From the user guide [PDF]:

The Lexis Web product includes important, legal-oriented Web content selected and validated by the LexisNexis editorial staff. You can trust that all content has met LexisNexis criteria for being authoritative and accurate. The current beta version combines content from thousands of Web sites and millions of Web pages, with more being added each day:

• Governmental agency information (federal, state, local)
• Informal commentary on

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research