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Archive for June, 2014

Federal Court of Appeal Rulings on Landmark Family Status Cases

On May 2, 2014, the Federal Court of Appeal released its long-awaited decisions in Canada (Attorney General) v. Johnstone, 2014 FCA 110 (CanLII) and Canadian National Railway Company v. Seeley, 2014 FCA 111 (CanLII). The rulings confirm that child care obligations fall under the scope of family status under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and clarify the test for meeting a prima facie case of discrimination on the prohibited ground of family status. Let's examine what is involved in the accommodation of family status.
Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

Canada’s Inconsistent Approach to Species at Risk

When it comes to protecting species at risk, and fulfilling mandatory obligations under the Species at Risk Act (SARA), it seems the Federal Government must be goaded into action by litigation brought by conservation groups. Two recent cases highlight government foot-dragging in developing plans to protect species that are at urgent risk, due in part to a lack of “organizational capacity” (i.e. staff cuts). The government will rarely disclose whether a protection plan is even in the works.

The Federal Government did, however, find the time and resources to swiftly downgrade the status of the North Pacific Humpback Whale from . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Thursday Thinkpiece: Farrow on Privatization

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.

Civil Justice, Privatization, and Democracy
Trevor C.W. Farrow
Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014

Excerpt pp. 5-6, 9-10

Privatization is occurring at a rapid rate in all levels of the public justice system. First, in the civil justice system, there is an increasing and overwhelming tendency to resolve disputes through mechanisms other than . . . [more]

Posted in: Thursday Thinkpiece

Justice Clément Gascon

In five days, Justice Clément Gascon of the Cour d’Appel will assume Justice Fish’s seat on the Supreme Court.

The announcement from the Prime Minister’s office is terse:

« Je suis ravi d’annoncer la nomination de M. le juge Clément Gascon à la Cour suprême du Canada. M. le juge Gascon, qui siège actuellement à la Cour d’appel du Québec, possède un important bagage d’expérience et de connaissances juridiques dont profitera grandement cette importante institution canadienne. Sa nomination survient au terme de vastes consultations menées auprès d’éminents membres du milieu juridique du Québec. » –

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

TWU Law and the New Segregation

As a Bencher of the Law Society of BC, I voted against the accreditation of TWU Law. I was on the losing side of a 20-7 vote. The next day, my wife and I left for a road trip through the American South.

We started in Chicago, marveled at its architecture for a few days and then took an overnight train to Memphis. From there, we drove down the eastern bank of the Mississippi through the “cradle of the civil war” and over Cajun swamps to our final destination of New Orleans. We drove through the rural sun-baked squalor of . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Who Else Has a Stake in Access to Justice?

There’s an airline that flies to northern Manitoba centres that has recently reduced its scheduled flights to and from Winnipeg. While one might not necessarily expect an airline schedule change to have an impact on access to justice, it’s possible that it just may.

Flights from Winnipeg to this centre depart each morning, allowing judges on circuit and lawyers from Winnipeg to get to court on time in the northern centre. The scheduled daily return flights to Winnipeg now depart either in the late morning or well-past dinnertime.

Is there a potential effect on access to justice? There could be, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Massively Overhyped Obfuscated Concept – MOOCs in Legal Education

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any education related publication in the 21st century must at some point cover the topic of MOOCs. So let’s get it out of the way, shall we?

As a known supporter of open content and technology, as well as someone who works in education, I like to pretend that people are dying to ask me, “Sarah, are MOOCs going to save law schools?”

My answer? No. No they are not.

Okay, I guess I could flesh this answer out a bit, and not just because I should have about 800 more words . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

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. Boucher v. Wal-Mart Canada Corp., 2014 ONCA 419

[49] Pinnock submits that no jury acting reasonably could have found him liable for this tort. I do not agree with this submission. Appellate review of a civil jury award is limited. The standard is “unreasonableness” and this standard applies to liability as well as to amount. A civil jury verdict should be . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

How to Start a Legal Project Management Initiative in Your Firm: 11 Ideas

Are firms becoming more attuned to the benefits of legal project management (LPM)? Are clients? Judging from a workshop I attended on this topic last month in Chicago, the answer is “yes”.

But many firms – including almost every firm I’ve encountered – still struggle with the question of how to encourage organizational and individual changes required to inculcate wide-spread adoption of LPM.

The panelists who spoke at the “LPM Showcase and Workshop” lead some of the firms that have been the most successful at LPM implementation – Baker & McKenzie, Loeb & Loeb, Foley Hoag . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Practice of Law: Practice Management

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.


Use Control+F or Command+F to Find Specific Terms on a Webpage
Dan Pinnington

Slowly scrolling through a webpage to find a specific term is not the most efficient or fastest way to find the location of the information you are looking for, especially if the page is a long one. . . .


List Conciousness
Shaunna Mireau

With Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation coming into force on July 1, 2014,

. . . [more]
Posted in: Tips Tuesday

“It’s Not Information Overload. It’s Filter Failure.”

Clay Shirky, way back in 2008, had a hypothesis: that it isn’t a case of too much information; it’s that we haven’t yet got the filters to help us manage that overload.

And we have to assume that the amount of information we’re already getting will continue to grow. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. But, if we are to deal with that firehose aimed at our brains, we need to get smarter; because if we don’t we’re just going to get wetter.

When looking for recommendations of where to eat in a new city, for example, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Court of Appeal Unable to Review Lower Decision – Forced to Grant Appeal

In an unusual case, the Court of Appeal has granted the Appeal brought by the Defendants due to the fact that the inadequacy of the endorsement of the motion judge rendered the Court of Appeal unable to “conduct a meaningful review of his decision.”

The Plaintiff purchased a house from one of the Defendants. As it turns out, the house had previously been used as a marijuana grow-op. The Plaintiff alleged that the vendor failed to disclose that a grow-op had previously operated at the property and that the property had an extensive mould problem that renders it uninhabitable.

For . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment