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Archive for May, 2017

The Irony of the Bonkalo Report

Background of Law Students in the Family Courts

We all know the numbers in Ontario’s family courts. At least 60% of parties are unrepresented. They do worse than those with representation. The Family Court Rules are paper-heavy, with many deadlines, complicated financial calculations, and all kinds of forms to be drafted. Family lawyers will tell you it’s difficult enough for them to manage all of this, let alone an untrained individual.

Regrettably, the Family Courts in Ontario are an example of justice for those with money, and little justice for those without. This is one reason why Canadians are losing . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Education

The Permanence and Independence of the Bench

Judicial independence is obviously a bedrock of our legal system, required to ensure the autonomy and function of the courts without outside interference. Occasionally, however, there are instances where this autonomy needs to be reigned in.

The authority for doing this for federally appointed judges can be found under Part II of the Judges Act, which creates the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC), and its powers to commence an inquiry for removal under s. 63. Since the inception of the CJC in 1971, complaints of 13 judges have proceeded to the public inquiries stage. The last one, in 2016, involved . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Summaries Sunday: SOQUIJ

Every week we present the summary of a decision handed down by a Québec court provided to us by SOQUIJ and considered to be of interest to our readers throughout Canada. SOQUIJ is attached to the Québec Department of Justice and collects, analyzes, enriches, and disseminates legal information in Québec.

PÉNAL (DROIT) : Contrairement à l’infraction codifiée à l’article 255 (3) C.Cr., où le législateur exige la preuve du lien causal entre les capacités affaiblies et la mort d’une tierce personne, en vertu de l’article 255 (3.1) C.Cr., le lien à faire se situe 1) entre l’accusé et la cause . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

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. It’s a summary of all appeals and leaves to appeal granted, so you know what the S.C.C. will soon be dealing with (Mar. 17, 2017 to April 20, 2017 inclusive).


Professions: Costs Against Lawyers Personally

Québec (Criminal and Penal Prosecutions) v. Jodoin, 2017 SCC 26 (36539)

The courts’ power to award costs against a lawyer personally is not limited . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

Texting at the Wheel: Should Police Be Able to Examine Your Phone?

New York State is considering legislation to require drivers involved in auto accidents to allow the police to inspect their mobile phones for signs of recent activity. Presumably signs of such activity would be grounds for charges for driving while distracted, and might lead to evidence to support civil liability as well.

It’s interesting that the technology for detecting such recent activity does not currently exist, but it is being developed as the legislation is working its way through the process.

The developers, the legislators and the police all say that the technology will not permit any review of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Legislation, Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

I, Robot

At 15, I became self-aware. I started working in the public library. Maybe it was earlier. If my memory banks are not malfunctioning and have not been tampered with, I started out shelving books. I do know that I read all the books in the young adult section of the library. Encyclopedia Brown. Ramona. Jo. The Witch of Black Bird Pond. And a book about young Quakers in love. I ended up reading the Large Print books in the adult section. Barbara Cartland. Mary Stewart. Elizabeth Cadell. Westerns. Gothic romances. Mystery suspense. Before I got to anything too risqué, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information


Not only do we need to redesign justice systems, we also need to re-design our justice system design systems. Why? Many users of most justice systems are not getting what they could. Moreover, technology and science are changing societies at such speeds that our current factories for making the rules and mechanisms that get justice to citizens can’t keep up. Doing this is tough. It gets in the way of a lot of vested interests, engrained beliefs, lauded legal concepts, and embedded cultures.

If we look at the innovation capacity now, the main innovations we see are what I call . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Further Legal Snapshots From the Internet of Things

Interconnected computers – computers that talk to each other – are no longer a novelty. These days, one is more inclined to be surprised by an electronic device, or even an electrical device, that is not part of a network.

We looked at some legal implications of interconnections a few years back. Here are several more, roughly divided into issues about privacy and security (which tend to overlap). Feel free to add others in a comment.


By definition, interconnected devices communicate information about themselves or their environment, or both, to other devices. That information can and usually . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal 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. Funk v Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company, 2017 ABQB 308

[54] Given the intention of parties to this type of insurance coverage, which is to compensate the insured person injured as a result of an incident involving an unidentified automobile, it seems unreasonable to enforce a term of the contract that demands physical contact between the insured motor vehicle and the unidentified . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

Avoiding Limitation Period Pitfalls

This article is by Jordan Nichols, claims counsel at LAWPRO.

It is one of a lawyer’s worst nightmares: missing a limitation period. It can be a very easy mistake to make and yet the consequences can be enormous.

There are numerous “pitfalls” that can lead to missed limitation periods and other limitation period problems. Some of these pitfalls are relatively easy to avoid whereas others can trip up even the most skilled and careful of lawyers.

The following is an overview of some of the more common limitation period pitfalls that lawyers encounter and some tips on how to avoid . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Reading: Recommended

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 research, writing, and practice.


‘Only’, the Lonely
Neil Guthrie

I wish people would think about the placement of the single word only. Where it falls in your sentence can have a crucial effect on meaning. Only feels lonely because it’s often in the wrong place at the wrong time, misused and misunderstood.…


Are You Avoiding Succession Planning?
Sandra Bekhor

Lots of baby boomers are avoiding succession planning. One can only assume

. . . [more]
Posted in: Tips Tuesday

Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls…

I was updating my LinkedIn profile recently. I realized I recently reached a “tipping point” where I have been a lawyer longer than I have not. Reflecting on my demi-career, it strikes me how law firms have changed very little since I started my traineeship in 1993. Sure, there are new technologies available in the lawyers’ toolkit, but the way lawyers think about, and interact with, technology has hardly changed at all.

The lawyer’s main tools are word processing software for drafting documents and email for communication. This represents a technological advance, but barely. In some ways, I see regression. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information