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Archive for June, 2013

Ignorance Is Strength?

So do I need to point out that the NSA cell phone snooping story broke on the 64th anniversary of the publication of Orwell’s 1984?

By all accounts, privacy is dead, the question is do people care? Personally, I do; but I cannot deny that if you go online then you must accept that you are leaving a trail, but that does not mean that we have to exchange our love of the interwebs and mobile computing in exchange for our privacy.

I observed this comment by a friend of mine and I feel it needs to be spread more . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Technology: Internet

Review – “Gateways to Justice: Design and Operational Guidelines for Remote Participation in Court Proceedings”

Professor Tait recently sent me a 127 pages report on the topic of court remote appearances:

Rowden, E., Wallace, A., Tait, D., Hanson, M. & Jones, D. (2013), “Gateways to Justice: design and operational guidelines for remote participation in court proceedings” (University of Western Sydney: Sydney), accessed from:

This topic is very timely across all Canadian jurisdictions. The Canadian Centre for Court Technology – Centre canadien de technologie judiciaire (“CCCT”) chose remote appearances as a topic for its White Paper in 2012 (published in January 2013 and available here), and this week, the CCCT is offering a series . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice

The Friday Fillip: Demonyms

I hope I don’t disappoint you when I tell you that demonyms have nothing to do with demons. (For that I’d recommend The Dictionary of Demons by Belanger.) Rather, the demo is demos, a Greek word for the people and, more significantly for the fillip, the name for a certain type of municipality in Greece. Thus a demonym is a name given to describe a person from a particular place.

Eighty-two point seven percent of the time figuring out what to call someone from somewhere is no big deal. You throw –er or –al or –ian . . . [more]

Posted in: The Friday Fillip

Legal Citation Style – a Wicked Problem in Legal Information

The lack of uptake for citation management software programs, such as Zotero, EndNote, and RefWorks, by even tech savvy legal practitioners and scholars has puzzled me for some time. The absence of these programs or similar solutions is particularly surprising when one considers the large number of vendor supplied and internally customized labour saving solutions law firms implement in the interest of repeatedly saving small amounts of time and the institution wide licences many universities have implemented to encourage their use. As I started exploring the reasons for this absence, I found that there are many issues . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Debating National Justice Care

One of the highlights of the CBA’s Envisioning Equal Justice Summit, now about six weeks ago, was a lunchtime debate on the merits or demerits, the feasability or impracticality of a national justice care system. The exchange was witty and entertaining, and solid, thoughtful, substantive arguments underlay the edgy discussion.

Beverly Spencer posted a superb summary of the debate in the CBA National Magazine’s Legal Insights & Practice Trends: Should there be a national “justice care” system in Canada?, and it is worth a read to get a flavour of the issues and arguments on either side . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Dwight Opperman Dies

The name of Dwight Opperman will be familiar to older members of the Slaw community – he was the former head of the West Publishing Company, who presided over the sale of the premier US legal publishing company to Thomson.

Back in 1996 he sold West for $3.4 billion. According to Wikipedia, in 2002, Forbes 400 ranked Opperman as the 239th richest person in the United States – and I’m willing to wager that no-one else (before or since) has made quite as much out of legal publishing. He started out as the son of a railroad worker, whose . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing, Miscellaneous

Hidden Treasures for Legal Research: Law Reform Commission Reports

I occasionally like to draw attention to the wealth of information that can be found in law commission reports.

When I help people with research or do a training session, I like to remind them that law reform bodies often deal with important public policy issues that are not on the government agenda but may nevertheless require critical analysis and potential reform. And judges who often need to address difficult or novel legal issues do refer to law reform publications in their judgments [a simple caselaw search in CanLII for the expression “law reform commission” produces close to 1700 . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research

LSUC Places Stubbornness Above Sensible Decision-Making

I recently wrote a post that sparked a firestorm of comments; most felt that I had overstepped myself for daring to suggest that the Law Society of Upper Canada ignores obvious conflicts in connection with its operations. This week we have another LSUC conflict issue.

Canadian Lawyer Magazine has reported on the ongoing proceedings between LSUC and Joseph Groia. As you are aware, Joseph Groia was found guilty of misconduct by a LSUC disciplinary panel last summer and he is appealing that decision.

The panel that will hear the appeal is comprised of 5 benchers – one of which . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management

Zombies, Vampires, Pecking Orders and Factual Causation in Tort

You’ll have to skip to about 3/4 of the way through this piece to find out why the title of this piece is what it is.

Once upon a time, but not so long ago, Canadian tort law contained a test for proof of factual causation in tort known as the material contribution (to injury) test. For those who might have forgotten, or never knew, that test seemed to have been affirmed, in Canadian tort law, by the Supreme Court in Athey v. Leonati [1996] 3 SCR 458, 1996 CanLII 183. A unanimous 7-member panel (Lamer C.J. . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Senate Jokes Are About as Well-Informed as Lawyer Jokes, Particularly Those Coming From the “Non-Insiders”

In the interest of full disclosure I begin this piece by confessing to being a “Senate Junkie,” as a dear friend described my interest recently. I began reading Senate Debates and committee proceedings when I was in Grade XI, at the North York Central Library and continued following the work of the Senate in great detail for more than 30 years, and, more generally in the last decade or so. Sadly, the current debate about the Senate is so ill-informed that I am mildly afraid that I will be disqualified on the ground of knowing what I’m talking about. Whether . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Thursday Thinkpiece: Franklin on Debt Collection & Criminal Law

Each Thursday we present a significant excerpt, usually from a recently published book or journal article. In every case the proper permissions have been obtained. If you are a publisher who would like to participate in this feature, please let us know via the site’s contact form.

Commercial Debt Collection in Canada: A Legal Handbook
David Franklin
Toronto: Canada Law Book, 2012


Familiarize yourself with all books of law and, for as long as you are a merchant, familiarize yourself with the Birka code. If you are familiar with the law, you will not be the victim of injustice

. . . [more]
Posted in: Thursday Thinkpiece

Custody Dispute and Mistaken Jurisdiction

Here’s a sad bit of reading — seven paragraphs of an appellate judgment concerning children handed down by an excellent bench (Noah v. Bouchard, 2013 ONCA 383).

[1] The appellant Johnny Bouchard appeals from the order of the Superior Court of Justice dated April 5, 2012, dismissing the appellant’s claim for custody of the parties’ two children, Tyler (age 10) and Nicholas (age 8). The application judge ordered that the custody and access arrangements in existence at the time of trial pursuant to the earlier order of Judge MacKenzie of the Ontario Court of Justice should continue

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions