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Archive for February, 2014

Assessing an Arbitrator’s “Predilection for Bias”

Arbitrator independence and fairness are the cornerstones of arbitration. They seem to be coming under greater scrutiny, both in Canada and abroad.

There are many sources of bias in any adjudication system, whether it is court or arbitration. (This may be a topic for another column, but see for example arbitrator Edna Sussman’s paper, “Arbitrator Decision Making: Unconscious Psychological Influences and What You Can Do About Them,” December 20, 2013, American Review of International Arbitration, Vol., No. 3, 2013 available online here.)

The accepted test for arbitrator bias in Canada was established by the Supreme Court of . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Thursday Thinkpiece: Poblet on Visualizing Legal Open Data

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.

Visualizing the law: Crisis mapping as an open tool for legal practice
Marta Poblet
Journal of Open Access to Law Vol 1, No 1 (2013)

(This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. This work, as excerpted, has not been altered.)

Excerpt pp. 3-6

2. Maps as Interfaces: Visualizing . . . [more]

Posted in: Thursday Thinkpiece

The Legacy of Phoenix Sinclair

Phoenix Victoria Hope Sinclair was born in Winnipeg on April 23, 2000. She was apprehended by child welfare authorities at birth, and spent her life in and out of the care of her parents. She died at Fisher River on June 11, 2005 but her death was not discovered until the winter of 2006. Her mother and her mother’s partner were charged and convicted of first-degree murder and are serving life sentences.

In March 2011, an inquiry was called under The Manitoba Evidence Act to look into:

  • the child welfare services provided or not provided to Phoenix and her
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous, Substantive Law

Some CASL Clarification

CRTC and Industry Canada representatives provided some insight into their thoughts on CASL (the new anti-spam law that kicks in July 1) in an IT-Can forum on Monday.

To come under the complex CASL rules, the email must be a “commercial electronic message” or CEM. It does not take much to cross that threshold. An example of a law firm emailing details about a new court decision was discussed. If a pure case summary was part of or attached to an email (eg The Supreme Court of Canada today released a decision that decided…), and the email had a standard . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

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. Rochon v. MacDonald 2014 ONSC 591

    [7] It is important to distinguish between liability for the accident and liability to pay a judgment. The apportionment of liability is one of the factors that the court should consider in exercising discretion under section 131 of the Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, c.C-43 (see Rule 57.01). The practical obligation to pay a judgment is

. . . [more]
Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

Will XP Be Attacked in April 2014?

Unless you’ve been hibernating, you know that support for Windows XP SP3 will end on April 8, 2014. This means that Microsoft will not be providing any security updates after that date. Should you care and quickly run out and purchase an upgraded operating system? Many critics are claiming that Microsoft is stopping support in order to increase sales of the more current operating system software. Others are predicting that the sky will fall as hackers are just waiting to release their latest malware right after April 8th. We believe that there will be attempts to compromise Windows . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Every Factum Needs an Excellent Overview Statement

I was surprised to receive a factum last week that omitted an overview statement. Most people now include an overview statement even though some Rules of Court do not expressly require one.

The overview statement is the most important part of any factum. Its purpose is to explain what the case is really about. Too short, or not enough context, and the first opportunity to persuade is lost. Too long, or not sufficiently focused, and the reader is left confused rather than primed to understand the subsequent argument.

When I am drafting a factum (or even a letter, or a . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

LegalTech 2014 Opening Keynote With Jason Thomas

The LegalTech Day One Keynote with Jason Thomas of Thomson Reuters was intriguingly titled “TOR, Bitcoin, Silk Road and the Anonymous Web: Drugs, Bombs and Murder-for-Hire”. If that wasn’t enough to bring me into a crowded conference room filled with legal technology types, there was also tasty coffee.

All kidding aside, Mr. Thomas’s presentation was a great start to the 34th annual ALM Legal Technology show. Jason Thomas is the Chief Innovator at Thomson Reuters.

Jason started his session with a William Gibson quote: “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.”

He asked the crowd to raise . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training, Technology

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.


Put the Sun Behind You for Better Outdoor Pics With Your Mobile Phone
Dan Pinnington

Unfortunately, the camera on your mobile phone – and even your more expensive DSLR camera – just don’t see things well quite as well as your eyes do. So, what can you do to get better outdoor pictures? Getting more light on your subject by making sure the sun is behind you will greatly . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday

Some Musings on Software in the Legal Field

During a recent presentation on developments in knowledge management, I found myself at a loss about what generalized recommendations for technological solutions to give, because I have observed ongoing and growing divides among organizations in their adoption of technology. These divides combine with differing organizational goals to create an environment where that there are fewer applications that are sufficiently generalizable to be recommended to a group, which aren’t already in widespread use. Word processors, web browsers, library systems, file management systems, and others are easy to recommend to most organizations of a certain type and size, and there was a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Is There a Unified Approach to Legal Citation?

Robin Cover, Director of Information Services at OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), has released version 2 of his annotated bibliography on standards for legal citation.

This extensive collection provides a list of references “intended to provide general background to the larger ‘legal citation’ problem.” A Standardized Data/Markup Model to Support Neutral Citation of Court Cases, Legislation, and Regulations includes references from 1995 up to and including mid-January 2014.

In his introductory remarks Cover notes that “As of September 12, 2012, community discussion was underway about the value of a standardization effort to define a . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management

Protecting Yourself From Cybercrime Dangers: A Backup Could Save Your Practice After a Cybercrime Incident

Cybercrime dangers are many, complex and ever-changing. Hardly a day goes by without another news report of a data breach or other cyber-related scam or theft. Cyber criminals have considerable resources and expertise, and can cause significant damage to their targets. Cyber criminals specifically target law firms as law firms regularly have funds in their trust accounts and client data that is often very valuable. This article, from the December 2013 issue of LAWPRO Magazine, reviews the specific cybercrime dangers law firms need to be concerned about, and how they can mitigate their risks.

Every law firm has huge . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology