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Archive for July, 2009

Small Claims Not So Small

How much is a lot of money? This is a very personal question that depends upon many factors; how much is in the bank account; did your pay cheque bounce; how many of your kids are in day care; what is your rent; how much is your student loan?

The question popped in my head as I browsed an article by Diane Saxe via Lexology titled “My neighbour cut down my tree.” The article alerted me to the news that the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Small Claims Court maximum claim amount is rising to $25,000 on January 1, 2010. . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Lawyers’ Rights Watch

It seems that we’ve not yet managed to talk about Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada on Slaw, an unfortunate omission. LRWC is a committee of lawyers who work to protect the very people — lawyers — who promote human rights around the world. In their concise summary:

LRWC seeks to identify illegal actions against advocates, campaign for the cessation of such actions and lobby for the implementation of effective immediate and long-term remedies.

They list their campaigns by country (some 50) on their website, including, I should note, Canada and six instances of what the LRWC felt to be violation of . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Substantive Law

One Small Step for a Brand

Many organizations and individuals who are not traditional “entertainment” entities now find themselves increasingly pulled into the world of entertainment, branding and advertising. NASA and its astronauts are no exception. Over the next couple of posts, I will touch on some of these legal issues as found on the far side of space exploration. Here is a first installment: Part I. The Rum, The Watch and the Astronaut.
Posted in: Substantive Law

Interesting Week for Law-Related Government Studies and Reports

It has been a good week for people interested in Canadian government documents related to law and justice issues.

The most recent Weekly Checklist of Government of Canada Publications includes 2 parliamentary committee reports:

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information, Substantive Law

New TOROG Document

As I hope everyone knows, TOROG — the Toronto Opinions Group — kindly allows Slaw to publish some of their memos and precedents on third party opinions. A new document has just been added to the collection: “Limitations Act, 2002 (Ontario) – Proposals for Improving Contract Drafting and Appropriate Opinion Qualification Practice – June, 2009,” which, like the others, is available in PDF.

This relatively lengthy document (18pp.) describes the impact of recent changes to the Ontario Limitations Act on one’s freedom to contract with respect to a limitation period. The document also contains a sample provisions of purchase . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Legal Information, Substantive Law

Just One Reason Why Judicial Appointment Hearings Aren’t a Good Idea

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into the Judge Sonia Sotomayor appointment to the United States Supreme Court have reminded me why the idea of importing these hearings for real into our Canadian SCC appointment process bothers me. They’ve reminded me in a lot of ways, but one that stands out from this time around is the way in which the exchanges are antithetical to the process of judging. Judging should involve thoughtful consideration of the evidence, and, depending on the nature of the case, especially constitutional cases, of the context of the case. Of course, judges have predispositions, based on . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Substantive Law

Canadian Copyright Consultations Begin

The Federal government has just launched public consultations intended to lead to a new copyright reform bill. The last few attempts to revise copyright law have not become law – but have been highly controversial. This is an important topic that affects things we do every day. The difficult part is striking the right balance between the entertainment industry desire to charge for and control everything, and the consumer expectation of getting everything free all the time. Past efforts have not accomplished that balance, and in some ways took a step backwards by being stuck in a digital time warp. . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Challenging the Ontario Racing Law

Since the Ontario government brought in the the so called “racing law” (HTA s. 172) thousands of Ontario drivers have been charged, most for the simple act of driving more than 50 km/h over the speed limit (an action which is referred to as “performing a stunt” under the Statute and Regulations). In fact the police and the Crown have taken the position that anyone driving more than 50 km/h over the limit is guilty of stunt driving under the Highway Traffic Act. But in taking this position they have violated the intent of the Ontario Legislature.

It is a . . . [more]

Posted in: Uncategorized


A team of computer scientists from the University of Washington has developed Vanish, a program that lets you create an email or a document that will self-destruct at a given time. At the moment it’s still in the developmental stage, but you can download a trial copy that will enable you to use a Firefox plugin to create the various temporary documents. There’s also an online Vanish service if you’re leery of installing a trial app.

From what I can gather from the press release and an article in the New York Times, Vanish works by using an . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

LSBC Strategic Plan for 2009-11

A copy of the Law Society of British Columbia’s 2009-2011 strategic plan was posted to their website yesterday. Adopted by the Benchers’ back in February, the 12-page document identifies three principal goals:

1. enhancing access to legal services;

2. enhancing public confidence in the legal profession through appropriate and effective regulation of legal professionals;

3. effective education, both of legal ­professionals and those wishing to become legal professionals, and of the public.

Hat tip to Courthouse Libraries BC. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Article of the Future

The giant publisher Reed Elsevier (in whose capacious bosom LexisNexis rests) is experimenting with the form that a published scientific article takes online. The “Article of the Future” project, in beta, is an attempt to re-think the way in which a scientific article is presented, given the possibilities made available by information technology. At the moment there is a prototype that makes use of a couple of articles originally published in Cell, reformatting them in such a way that, among other things, graphics are more readily available and can be scaled, contents of the article are broken . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Publishing, Technology

What Makes Us Happy?

All we need is love…

Lyrics and Music by Lennon & McCartney

In the June 2009 issue of The Atlantic online, Joshua Wolf Shenk looks at the issue of “What Makes Us Happy?” This is no new-age, crystal-based, aromatherapy-scented review of superficial meaning-of-life issues (not that The Atlantic would ever stoop to that level). Rather, this is an article that examines a 72 year Harvard longitudinal study of 268 men that started in 1937 which included among its participants, President John Kennedy. The article is also an exploration of psychiatrist George Vaillant who has been “the chief curator . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous