Canada’s online legal magazine.

Archive for September, 2014

Summaries Sunday: Maritime Law Book

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 cases.slaw.ca.

This week’s summaries concern:
Civil Rights / Constitutional Law / Statutes / Trade Regulation

R. v. P.C. 2014 ONCA 577
Civil Rights
Summary: The accused, a young offender at the time, was tried by a judge and jury and found guilty of manslaughter. The accused wished to appeal his conviction, but lacked the resources to retain counsel. He . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

Cyberbullying, Social Media Networks and Sentencing: The Alberta Court of Appeal Strikes a Hard Blow in R v Mackie

How should the courts determine appropriate sentences for online predators who victimize vulnerable children through various forms of cyberbullying? This was the question put squarely to the Alberta Court of Appeal in R v Mackie 2014 ABCA 221.

Background

Statistics Canada reported this summer that the traditional crime rate in Canada fell 8% from 2012 to 2013, reaching its lowest level since 1969. But this general decline in crime rates overshadows a disturbing countertrend – the rise in online crimes against children.

Crimes constituting sexual violations against children increased 6% from 2012. In particular, the crime of using a . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Justice Issues

The Friday Fillip: Venom and Vanity

Here’s an incongruity — at least it seems so to me.

The world’s most expensive substance is used in one of the most trivial ways possible.

The substance? Botulinum toxin, commonly known as Botox. The BBC says it costs £100 trillion (C$182 trillion) per kilo — yes, that’s trillion. And people buy it to inject into their faces so that (they think) we won’t think they’re as old as they really are. Moreover, a third branch in the incongruity (if such things can have a tertium quid) is the fact that gram for gram it’s the deadliest substance . . . [more]

Posted in: The Friday Fillip

Parlez-Vous Français? How to Practice Your French, and Other Foreign Language Immersion Tips

I’ve been trying to prepare for the IFLA conference in Lyon, France for months. IFLA is the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions and I don’t recall ever attending one of their meetings. But I thought this year, it’s in France, and in Lyon. My first name is Lyonette – it’s fate! And the IFLA Law Libraries Section has been offering great sessions on authentication of and access to digital legal information (such as official gazettes) in various regions of the world. I could look forward to immersing myself in French culture, speaking French, and learning about new developments . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

American Association of Law Libraries Report on Access to Justice

The debate about how to improve access to justice most often discusses what lawyers and court institutions can do.

There is another potential player: law libraries. In Canada, a few law libraries offer legal information services to the general public. But there does not seem to be much coordination of these efforts or much analysis of the contributions law libraries can and should be making.

South of the border, the attempt to address this question appears to have been more ambitious, though there is still a long way to go.

For example, the American Association of Law Libraries recently . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research

Scotland’s Question of Clarity

There is much that is familiar in watching how Scotland’s vote will unfold today.

Fuelling the sense of déjà vu for Canadians is the arc of the story. It begins with the No forces way ahead in the polls, until suddenly both camps are neck and neck. Panic takes over in the “nation’s” capital, followed by improvisation, vague promises of more devolved powers, and not-so-subtle threats about what it will all mean for the shared currency and the breakaway state’s place in the larger common market (their EU to our NAFTA).

And yet, in spite of all the similarities, something . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Employee Constructively Dismissed Because of a Temporary Layoff

Can a temporary layoff, in the absence of an express or implied contractual term authorizing such action during the term of employment, constitute a constructive dismissal? Ontario’s Small Claims Court recently answered this question in the case of Janice Wiens v. Davert Tools Inc., 2014 CanLII 47234.
Posted in: Case Comment, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Substantive Law: Legislation

Intermediary Liability Revisited: Part 2 – Policy Questions

My previous column gave a number of examples of how governments, regulators and even spies focus on intermediaries to achieve what they want. The intermediaries used may or may not be online themselves, though most of the examples involved Internet Service Providers and web hosting services.

This column reviews the policy questions, though without attempting any definitive answers. Feel free to propose your own answers in the Comments, or raise further questions, or improve my analysis.

Approaches to liability

Three major approaches are taken to the role of intermediaries, as we saw in the previous column (without so classifying them): . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Technology

Why Pro Bono?

Last week I had the opportunity to speak with law students at Robson Hall as part of the Pro Bono Students Canada (“PBSC”) launch event. I had been asked to give a speech on my own pro bono and access to justice work with a view to motivating students to volunteer for one of the many interesting projects PBSC is coordinating this year. In preparing for the presentation, I thought back to my own days at Robson Hall and realized, with some dismay, how little I gave of my time to others at that point in my life.

Because I . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools, Justice Issues

Will a Smartwatch Be on Your Wrist? 10 Things to Ponder.

As expected, Apple introduced its Apple Watch (not iWatch) last week with great fanfare. It is actually not a single watch, but a series of watches in 2 sizes and 3 models with various types of bands. It will be available “early 2015”.

Of course only those with iPhones can use an Apple Watch. Those with Android phones will use one of the options running Android Wear.

The reaction to the smartwatch phenomenon has been interesting. Traditional watch manufacturers are being dismissive about it – which sounds a lot like how Rim (Blackberry) dismissed the iPhone when it first . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

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. Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic v. Canada, 2014 ONSC 5140

[41] The Applicant’s section 7 challenge uses the 1995 Firearms Act as a baseline against which to measure the licensing and registration system under the Act, and finds the latter lacking. In the Applicant’s characterization, while the regulatory regime that existed from 1995 until the coming into force of the Act in . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

Independence and Self-Regulation: I’m OK but I’m Not So Sure About You!

It is entirely human to fail to appreciate when one’s judgment is affected by a conflicting personal interest or duty. Our conflicts rules reflect this problem. Where there is a substantial risk of impairment of representation, clients get to decide whether to accept that risk. Where representation will be materially impaired, lawyers cannot act even with client consent.

This concern about conflicting interests is well rooted in behavioural psychology. Dan Ariely, an author and a professor of psychology and behavioural economics[i], writes on this topic[ii].

In his book The Honest Truth about Dishonesty, Professor Ariely . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Ethics