Summaries Sunday

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

This week’s summaries are in Criminal law and duress / Adoptions and artificial insemination / Custody and language of education / Medical malpractice / Fatal accidents legislation and equality / Duties of insurance broker / Discovery and privileged documents:

R. v. Ryan (N.P.) 2013 SCC 3
Criminal Law – General principles – Statutory defences or exceptions – Compulsion (duress)

The accused, an abused wife, attempted to hire a “hit man” to kill her husband. The “hit man” was an undercover R.C.M.P. officer. The accused was charged under s. 464(a) of the Criminal Code with counselling an undercover officer to murder her abusive husband.
The Nova Scotia Supreme Court, in a decision reported at (2010), 289 N.S.R.(2d) 273; 916 A.P.R. 273, acquitted the accused on the basis that the defence …

Pratten v. British Columbia (Attorney General) et al. 2012 BCCA 480
Civil Rights – Liberty – Particular rights – Artificial insemination (incl. anonymous sperm donors)

At issue was whether provincial legislation (Adoption Act) that provided mechanisms by which adult adopted children (adoptee(s)) could obtain information about their biological parents was discriminatory and violated the provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, because similar provisions had not been enacted for the benefit of adults conceived using sperm from an anonymous donor (donor offspring). Also at issue was whether the Legislature’s failure …

Perron v. Perron 2012 ONCA 811
Family Law – Custody and access – Duties and rights of custodian – Education (incl. language of)

The appellant father, whose first language was French, appealed an order granting custody of the parties’ three children to the respondent mother. The mother, whose first language was English, had some knowledge of French and wanted the children to receive education in both French and English as in a French immersion program. The father maintained that the trial judge should have considered whether it …

Paniccia Estate et al. v. Toal 2012 ABCA 397
Damages – Mitigation – Particular matters – Medical malpractice 

Paniccia died of diffuse gastric cancer. His estate sued his family doctor (Toal) for damages for medical malpractice (i.e., failure to diagnose and treat the cancer and inform him properly). Liability was at issue. The parties had an agreement regarding damages, although it was left for the court to determine Paniccia’s likely age of retirement, when, if ever he could have returned to work and his household duties, and his life expectancy …

Dares et al. v. Newman 2012 ABQB 328
Civil Rights – Equality and protection of the law – Particular cases – Fatal accidents legislation

Smith was killed in a motor vehicle accident with the defendant. Smith and his common law partner had lived together for more than 20 years. During that time, Smith raised his partner’s two biological children as his own. The children claimed against the defendant for bereavement damages under s. 8 of the Fatal Accidents Act. An issue arose as to whether the reference to “child” …

Cheecham v. Saskatchewan Government Insurance et al. 2012 SKCA 123
Insurance – Brokers – Relations with clients – Duties of broker

Cheecham owned a rental house. He purchased insurance coverage for the house through the Meadow-North Agencies Ltd., an insurance agency. Cheecham’s tenants moved. The house was vandalized as it sat vacant. The insurer denied Cheecham’s claim because the policy of insurance provided that, if the house was vacant, vandalism was not an insured peril. Cheecham sued Meadow-North, alleging that it acted negligently in failing to alert him to the fact …

Bennett v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co. 2013 NBCA 4
Practice – Discovery – What documents must be produced – Privileged documents – Documents prepared in contemplation of litigation (litigation privilege or work product privilege)

Bennett’s residential property burned. There was a police investigation as arson was suspected. Subsequently, Bennett’s insurer denied coverage on the basis that the premises were vacant for more than 30 days. Bennett issued a statement of claim against the insurer, asserting, inter alia, that she was at all material times the owner and occupier of the …

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