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Archive for April, 2020

More Problems With Conflict of Interest Legislation Revealed in Recent Alberta Controversy

In prior posts, I have highlighted problems with conflict of interest (or ethics) legislation regulating politicians in Canada. In particular I have commented on how legal privilege (for example cabinet confidence in the SNC Lavalin controversy) thwarts investigations. I have also highlighted the loophole in ethics rules (and their interpretation by some commissioners) that exempt political gain as an interest that may conflict with a member or Minister’s duty to serve the public interest.

A recent controversy in Alberta politics has exposed more loopholes in ethics rules. Part of that controversy was that Alberta Health Minister Shandro, who is . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Ethics

Get Organized! Time Investments for Better Legal Information Habits

We are living in unusual times. While some of us are battling illness, overwork, or the exuberance of nearby small children, others are finding ourselves with more self-directed time than usual. If you are seeking some direction for your work, here are some ideas for research challenges or organizational methods so that you can learn something or organize something to make your future work life easier. They’re arranged according to the approximate time they’ll take: very short tasks, tasks for an hour or so, and multi-hour tasks.

Organizational tasks for five minutes or less:

Organize your inbox. For almost everyone, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

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. R. v. J.R., 2020 ONSC 1938 (CanLII)

[21] The tertiary ground is conceptually distinct from the primary and secondary grounds. The latter relate to an assessment of the probability that the accused will behave in a certain way, that is, fail to attend court or commit further offences. The tertiary ground is not concerned with predictions about the accused’s behaviour but, . . . [more]

Posted in: Wednesday: What's Hot on CanLII

Can a Chatbot Answer Legal Questions?

The People’s Law School in British Columbia is offering free legal information through a Chatbot on Facebook.

@chatwithbeagle answers questions through Facebook messenger at

The chatbot starts off saying:

I work for People’s Law School. I’m here to sniff out information to help you with common legal problems. My goal is to empower you to take action.
Recognize, though, that I’m a bot, not a lawyer. I can get you up to speed on the law and suggest tips to move things forward. But it’s on you to take the next step.
I can help with these topics.
. . . [more]
Posted in: Technology

Reopening Society: Thoughts on Some Legal Questions

Yesterday (April 27, 2020), the Ford government released “A Framework for Reopening our Province“, a three-stage process that is likely to be applicable until a vaccine is available. The Framework is based on some important principles and it includes on-going reassessment and review to ensure the spread of COVID-19 has not recurred. With this Framework in mind, as well as steps already taken elsewhere, it is worth considering the kinds of legal questions that might arise as we seek to reopen our society fully. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

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 practice, research, writing and technology.

Research & Writing

Know the Difference Between Consolidated Acts and Annual Acts
Susannah Tredwell

One question that comes up on a regular basis is “why can’t I find a copy of this act on CanLII?” One possibility is that the act is an annual statute that only amends another act (or acts), e.g. the Human Rights Code Amendment Act, 2018, S.B.C. 2018, c. 48. Not all amendment acts appear . . . [more]

Posted in: Tips Tuesday

Learning From “Building Planes in the Sky”

My heart goes out to everyone – because everyone is affected by the COVID19 pandemic in some way, personally, professionally, or both.

At the risk of seeming insensitive, this situation is both a tragedy and an opportunity. In terms of my work life, what is weighing most heavily on my mind is how we can use this opportunity to reimagine the family justice system and replace it with something new. As many have already pointed out (here and here for example), the COVID19 crisis is exposing significant structural deficiencies of Canada’s current justice system – the court system in . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution

Monday’s Mix

Each Monday we present brief excerpts of recent posts from five of Canada’s award­-winning legal blogs chosen at random* from more than 80 recent Clawbie winners. In this way we hope to promote their work, with their permission, to as wide an audience as possible.

This week the randomly selected blogs are 1. BC Provincial Court eNews 2. Canadian Securities Law 3. Canadian Legal History Blog 4. Vancouver Immigration Law Blog 5. PierreRoy & Associés

BC Provincial Court eNews
Why isn’t the BC Provincial Court using more video technology for hearings?

It’s been suggested the Provincial Court of British Columbia

. . . [more]
Posted in: Monday’s Mix

Charter Damages for G20 Actions

The Charter remains the bedrock of the Canadian constitution, even with concerns about the increased willingness of governments to derogate from those rights. Rights without a remedy may not have much meaning though, and and the enforcement provisions under the Charter itself state,

24. (1) Anyone whose rights or freedoms, as guaranteed by this Charter, have been infringed or denied may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain such remedy as the court considers appropriate and just in the circumstances.
[emphasis added]

What this means in a factual context has not been extensively analyzed by the courts. . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Summaries Sunday: OnPoint Legal Research

One Sunday each month OnPoint Legal Research provides Slaw with an extended summary of, and counsel’s commentary on, an important case from the British Columbia, Alberta, or Ontario court of appeal.

Doukhobor Heritage Retreat Society #1999 v. Vancouver Foundation, 2019 BCSC 54

KEYWORDS:   Vancouver Foundation Act; Perpetuity Act; Charitable Purpose Trusts; Gifts;

~A gift, once perfected, cannot be retracted, and s. 11 of the Vancouver Foundation Act does not require the Vancouver Foundation to comply with a direction to return a donation after it has been made. ~


The Doukhobor Heritage Retreat Society #1999 (the “DHRS”) is . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

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 Ju stice and collects, analyzes, enriches, and disseminates legal information in Québec.

CONTRAT D’ENTREPRISE : La Cour d’appel rend un jugement phare dans les nombreux dossiers portant sur la question de la pyrrhotite.

Intitulé : SNC-Lavalin inc. (Terratech inc. et SNC-Lavalin Environnement inc.) c. Deguise, 2020 QCCA 495
Juridiction : Cour d’appel (C.A.), Québec
Décision de : Juges François Pelletier, Lorne . . . [more]

Posted in: Summaries Sunday

What Is Non-Adversarial Advocacy?

There is no provision in the Model Code that specifically regulates non-adversarial advocacy. The Code has an Advocacy section (R 5.1) and it distinguishes advocacy in an adversarial process, but it does not have a corresponding section for advocacy in a non-adversarial process. There is no universal definition of non-adversarial advocacy. In 2016, I conducted empirical research on advocacy in the family law context, and drawing from that I argued that the Code needs to be updated to include non-adversarial advocacy.[1] (See here.) In that study, I talked to collaborative lawyers and family lawyers who have a . . . [more]

Posted in: Dispute Resolution, Legal Ethics