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Archive for October, 2015

Becoming a Court of the Future

People proclaim that our courts are stuck in a bygone era. Ontario lacks electronic filing at all levels of court. The fax machine dominates as the preferred method of communication. Lawyers attend Scheduling Court. Appellate proceedings go unrecorded on video. Even judges are beginning to voice concern about our courts.

In Bank of Montreal v Faibish, 2014 ONSC 2178, Justice Brown called out lawyers and courts for treating our judicial system “like some fossilized Jurassic”, causing the public to lose respect for our justice system. “How many wake-up calls do the legal profession and the court system need before . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Does Microsoft Have Its Mojo Back?

Microsoft announced new products last week, including the Surface Pro 4 tablet, and its first ever laptop – the Surface Book hybrid. Tech press reviews have been very positive. We ordered a Surface Pro 4 the day of the announcement, which is going to replace my desktop and tablet.

Windows 10 has been very well received. Microsoft has been touting its enterprise security features. Our IT Manager is impressed with the potential of its productivity improvements over Windows 8.1.

Microsoft is also transitioning its products into the cloud and into subscription models – which is where we are all headed. . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology: Office Technology

The News of ABS’s “Aliveness” Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

My previous Slaw post has generated, among other things, an unprofessional (and since deleted) comment and criticism that ABS is not dead as I suggested, because the Working Group has only determined that “majority control” by non-legally trained people is dead.

It’s true from a purely technical point of view that ABS can exist with minority ownership by non-legally trained people.

It’s also true that a comatose person whose body is functioning only with the support of a machine, is not dead.

I see remarkable similarities between the ABS debate and those surrounding MDPs at the turn of the century . . . [more]

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

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. Canadian Transit Company v. Windsor (Corporation of the City), 2015 FCA 88

[73] In this case, Canadian Transit – established as a federal corporation under the federal Special Act to pursue federal objects and invoking a federal provision allowing the Federal Court to make declarations concerning federal works and undertakings – has asked the Federal Court what exactly its rights are . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

Oil Pipelines and Climate Change: Eyes Wide Shut

Will the National Energy Board (“NEB”) listen to evidence about climate change when deciding whether to permit an oil pipeline? No, no, and no.

The federal Conservatives have dramatically narrowed Canada’s environmental laws, in a concerted effort to force through approval of oil pipelines, to get Alberta’s bitumen to international markets. They did this through the infamous Omnibus Bills, especially C-38[1] in 2012. Among these changes were amendments to the National Energy Board Act[2] (the “NEB Act”), to limit public participation in NEB hearings. Now, Canadian courts have rejected constitutional challenges to these amendments.

Who will the NEB . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

“Outrageous” Employer Conduct Wins Employee $100,000 in Punitive Damages

In a recent decision, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice harshly rejected an employer’s allegation that it had just cause to dismiss an employee. In allowing the employee’s claim for damages for wrongful dismissal, the Court awarded the employee $100,000 in punitive damages in response to the employer’s “terrible conduct.”

The Court found that the employer’s true basis for terminating the individual’s employment was to avoid financial obligations arising out of a share purchase agreement between the employee’s and the employer’s companies. As such, the Court’s view was that the employer had “conjured up a cause” to terminate the . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Legal Profession in the 21st Century: Does It Include ADR?

Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin’s keynote address to the Canadian Bar Association’s 2015 Annual Meeting this summer looked at “The Legal Profession in the 21st Century”. (Thanks to Malcom Mercer for posting the text of the Chief Justice’s address — and for the additional insights in his recent Slaw column “Innovate or be Innovated?”)

The Chief Justice talks about many challenges facing the legal profession today. She also talks about the challenge of access to justice. But, sadly, she gives little thought to the role of alternatives to court in addressing either of those challenges. . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

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.


Watch for New Tools
Shaunna Mireau

Today’s Tip was inspired by a news release that crossed my email: Canadian startup launches law search engine: Legal technology puts 5 million pages of laws from around the world. (September 24, 2015, Toronto) – Canadian startup, Global-Regulation Inc. …


We Really Need to Hear From You…
David Bilinsky

This week, Garry Wise and I chatted about the possible topics that we . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday

Right to Water, Right to Health

Over breakfast last week I was reading the recent issue of the UofT Magazine and saw a short article by Alec Scott talking about the right to health. Scott begins by pointing to one of the recommendations from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission asking governments “to recognize and implement the health-care rights of Aboriginal people as identified in international law and constitutional law, and under the Treaties.”

This article resonated in part because of the recent story about the Neskantaga First Nation community who have been living under a boil water advisory for twenty years. That was a . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

How Unhealthy Lawyers Affect Client Service

Almost all lawyers experience stress, but unless it becomes toxic, there is little risk to the client. Occasionally things get truly out of control. That’s when important deadlines are missed, communication with the client diminishes (or ends), and files languish. In extreme cases, the lawyer ‘pretends’ to practice by misrepresenting to the client that work has been done when it hasn’t been.
Valerie Edwards, experienced LAWPRO defence counsel, Torkin Manes LLP

With proper treatment and effective management, lawyers with mental or physical issues can and do thrive in legal practice. But left unchecked, unhealthy lawyers can put client files at . . . [more]

Posted in: Reading: Recommended

Summaries Sunday: Supreme Advocacy

On one Sunday each month we bring you a summary from Supreme Advocacy LLP of recent decisions at the Supreme Court of Canada. Supreme Advocacy LLP offers a weekly electronic newsletter, Supreme Advocacy Letter, to which you may subscribe.

Summary of all appeals and leaves to appeal granted, so you know what the S.C.C. will soon be dealing with (September 11 – October 7, 2015 inclusive).


Construction Law: Builder’s/Mechanic’s/Construction Liens
Stuart Olson Dominion Construction Ltd. v. Structal Heavy Steel, 2015 SCC 43 (35777)
Filing a lien does not affect a statutory trust; a lien bond secures a . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

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

This week’s summaries concern:
Criminal Law – Statutes – Indians, Inuit and Métis

R. v. A.A. 2015 ONCA 558
Criminal Law – Statutes
Summary: The accused and G.M.S. were both 16 when they began a relationship. G.M.S. danced in strip clubs, and gave the accused the money. The accused was arrested on more than a dozen charges arising . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday