Legal Feeds Blog
B.C. Supreme Court to hear woman's case for right to know her sperm-donor dad's identity, Vancouver Sun
Rights bill making discrimination of transgender people illegal split on Conservative support, Calgary Herald
Ex-Olympic head sues Georgia Straight paper over abuse allegations, Toronto Star
U.S. Defense Department sued by ACLU and 4 servicewomen over ban on women in combat, Reuters
Judge rules major tobacco companies must fund public advertising campaign on dangers of smoking, Reuters
Swiss prosecutors' Russian mafia whistleblower killed in mysterious circumstances, Reuters
Religious schools exempt from headscarf ban: Turkish government, Reuters
|A Ministry of Labour prosecution hasn’t resulted in the imprisonment of a corporate director for several years. (photo: Shutterstock)|
In fact, a Ministry of Labour prosecution hasn’t resulted in the imprisonment of a corporate director for several years.
The six companies owned and operated by Steve Blondin include Steven’s Inc. of Orangeville, Ont., Axcea International Inc. of Toronto, Automotive Containment Solutions Inc. of Concord, Ont., Automotive CSI Inc. of Richmond Hill, Ont., Automotive CSI — Alliston Inc., and Automotive CSI — Newmarket Inc.
Between March 2007 and October 2009, 61 employees from the six companies operated by Blondin filed claims with the Ministry of Labour for unpaid wages. An investigation by the ministry found wages were owed to all 61 employees.
Between February 2008 and April 2010, an employment standards officer issued 113 orders to the six companies and Blondin to pay over $125,000. None of the orders were paid.
However the penalties levied shouldn’t get company directors in Ontario concerned that the ministry necessarily has its sights set on them.
“This doesn’t mean it is open season on directors,” says Jason Beeho, a partner at Rubin Thomlinson. “There have always been provisions in the act for director liability and penalty. I think the sheer number of employees involved and the number of orders suggest the ministry was taking this very seriously.”
Nikfarjam says a director can be guilty of an offence if he or she fails to comply with an order to pay is issued by the Ministry of Labour. If guilty, a director can face monetary fines of up to $50,000 per offence, as well as imprisonment for up to 12 months.
Blondin and each company pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the ministry’s orders.
In addition to the jail term and fines totaling $280,000, the Ontario Court of Justice ordered Blondin and his companies earlier this month to pay the wages owing to the employees along with a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge, as required by the Provincial Offences Act.
The sentences were imposed by Justice of the Peace Vladimir Bubrin in Toronto.
40 charges for fired executive director of Salvation Army in $2M toy theft, Toronto Star
Gangster facing charges at B.C. Supreme Court shot and killed at Vancouver hotel, Vancouver Sun
Quebec municipality's mayor in court to keep prayers at city council meetings, cites Constitution's preamble, Calgary Herald
Federal judge in Colorado shootings merges lawsuits against cinema chain, Reuters
Judge denies bail to California man accused of al Qaeda plot, Reuters
EU's highest court rules permanent bailout fund in line with law, Reuters
Germany's proposed 'Google Tax' law sees Google launch 'Defend Your Web' campaign, Reuters
“I very much regret the events of that day,” said Chisvin, who added the events of that day have had a profound effect on his personal and professional life.
Chisvin admitted misconduct before the Ontario Judicial Council this morning at a hearing chaired by Justice Robert Sharpe of the Ontario Court of Appeal and heard by fellow panel members Derry Millar, Ontario Court Justice Deborah Livingstone, and community member Anish Chopra. He has been in the hot seat for dismissing “for want of prosecution at least 33 criminal charges, involving 10 accused persons that were before” him on July 21, 2011. Chisvin became impatient after a Crown prosecutor was late in returning to court for the day’s proceedings.
His actions prompted a number of complaints, including from the Ministry of the Attorney General. But his defence lawyer, Brian Greenspan, noted Chisvin was under significant stress that day, the details of which were provided to counsel in a “confidential way” in order to protect his and his family’s privacy.
Greenspan noted Chisvin has since sought counseling and noted his client’s excellent reputation within the profession. “This was not simply a good judge who had a bad day,” said Greenspan, who added his client is “an exceptional judge” who “had a very bad day.”
As for the disposition, presenting counsel Marie Henein noted the panel’s options include a reprimand all the way to removal from office. But she called on the panel to consider a combination of options ranging from a reprimand to suspension with or without pay. For his part, Greenspan urged the panel to consider a reprimand and a warning about future conduct. The panel has now recessed to consider the submissions.
Update, 5 p.m.: This afternoon, the hearing reconvened for the panel's disposition. In a ruling delivered by Sharpe, the panel issued Chisvin a reprimand and a warning against future misconduct.
Toronto awaits verdict in Ford's conflict of interest case, Toronto Star
Allegations of harassment in latest lawsuit denied by RCMP, The National Post
B.C.'s longest trial ends with five men convicted, Vancouver Sun
Tax lawyers, accountants, say IRS is undefeated with 'baseball' style arbitration techniques, Reuters
Florida woman charged with violating Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, Reuters
Senior judges to meet with Mursi to try and defuse crisis over 'power grab', Reuters
Lawmaker for EU disgraced after taking bribe to push for laws, Reuters
Ian Binnie was elevated to Companion of the Order of Canada for his enduring contributions to law in Canada. One of the few lawyers appointed directly from the bar to the Supreme Court, he served there with wisdom for 14 years. His public service, also included four years as associate deputy minister of Justice and as a constitutional expert, he has demonstrated an abiding concern for issues affecting Canada’s Aboriginal peoples and was instrumental in developing the country’s jurisprudence in this area. He continues to make important contributions to the law and Canadian society.
John Richard, who served as the chief justice of the Federal Court of Appeal for more than a decade, guiding the institution through a period of reorganization and improving access to justice, was elevated as an Officer of the Order of Canada. His personal commitment to society is also evident in his service with various institutions and charitable organizations, including Carleton University, Reach Canada and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.
Receiving her Member of the Order of Canada medal, Aaju Peter is an ardent defender of the rights of Canada’s northern Indigenous people. An Inuk clothing designer, lawyer and activist who lives in Iqualuit, she is committed to preserving Inuit culture and language. Travelling internationally, she has raised global awareness of the challenges confronting Canada’s most northern inhabitants. She also speaks about issues related to sustainability and resources, and their impact on the traditional way of life.
Also a new Member, Saskatoon lawyer Henry Kloppenburg’s generosity reflects his passion for his community. He is a collector of Canadian and Native art, much of which he has donated for public display. From scholarships and art donations to the establishment of the Kloppenburg Wildlife Refuge, his contributions have enriched the educational and cultural landscape of his province. He has also provided leadership to many organizations, including the University of Saskatchewan’s Biomedical Ethics Committee, the Kidney Foundation of Canada (Saskatchewan), the Mendel Art Gallery and the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra.
Photos: Sgt Ronald Duchesne, Rideau Hall © 2012 Office of the Secretary to the Governor General of Canada
Former Supreme Court of Canada justice Ian Binnie with Governor General David Johnston.
Former chief justice of the Federal Court of Appeal John Richard with Governor General David Johnston.
Nunavut lawyer Aaju Peter after her investiture as a Member of the Order of Canada with Governor General David Johnson.
Saskatoon lawyer Henry Kloppenburg after receiving his Order of Canada medal from Governor General David Johnson.
|LSUC benchers voted 37-5 in favour of more analysis into the program’s effectiveness before deciding its fate. (Photo: Gail J. Cohen)|
Benchers will decide if PLAP, a three-year pilot project, should be made permanent after a committee studies whether it has achieved its goal of retaining women in the profession.
A significant number of women leave the law after five years of practice. According to the law society’s retention of women initiative, that’s mainly because they give birth.
But PLAP may no longer be necessary or as effective as originally believed, argued former treasurer Laurie Pawlitza. One of the pioneers of the program in 2009, Pawlitza presented on Thursday what she said were “surprising results” of the program.
Sixty-five per cent of PLAP beneficiaries have a household income of $110,000 per year, she said. And while the program’s goal was to help lawyers keep their practice open while they’re on parental leave, 47 per cent of their “closed their practice altogether during their leave,” Pawlitza added.
PLAP is a program “for which I cared the most,” she said. “But my time as a treasurer has made me realize that my passion has to be tempered by asking questions.”
Pawlitza said in 2009, “there was no other financial support program in place. We believed that our access to justice mandate because women would continue to serve in geographic areas where access is limited.”
The EI Special Benefits was launched in 2010 and runs concurrently with PLAP. EI Special Benefits gives new parents 55 per cent of their average weekly net income the previous year. Now that the EI program is in place, some say PLAP is redundant, costly and even “elitist.”
But defenders of PLAP argue it’s the only benefit that makes sense for new mothers who are lawyers. They criticize the EI program as unrealistic and financially burdensome because it requires recipients to pay premiums a year prior to claiming benefits. Women will not even be pregnant by the time they are expected to pay into their maternity leave, said Bencher Beth Symes, who calls PLAP a “successful and cost-effective.”
The EI program also involves a lifetime commitment to pay premiums.
The Criminal Lawyers Association, Family Lawyers Association, and Immigration and Refugee Lawyers Association all strongly urged the law society to keep PLAP.
Bencher Julian Falconer agreed with Symes, suggesting that axing PLAP would not only disadvantage women but also damage the public’s perception of the law society.
“There’s an overriding interest in the issue not just within the profession but in the public as well,” he said. He added it’s no secret that “something happens to women in their first five years of practice that does not happen to men.”
Ex-officio Bencher Clayton Ruby took the argument one step further. “PLAP may not be enough,” he said. “It’s not acceptable to keep incurring the loss of women [in the profession]. We have to do better.”
In the end, benchers voted 37-5 in favour of more analysis into the program’s effectiveness before deciding its fate.
“We’re delighted that the program has been extended,” said Breese Davies, co-chairwoman of the working group on women in criminal law at the Criminal Lawyers Association who lobbied to keep the program alive. “It’s a huge victory for the women in the profession.”
Years of harassment allegations have feds demanding RCMP put forward 'plan to combat gender bias', Vancouver Sun
Wealthy Ottawa couple given jail sentence over B.C. man's tax evasion scheme, The National Post
B.C. man tells of brutal sled dog slaughter, gets three years' probation, Toronto Star
Workplace harassment rules to be considered by Supreme Court, Reuters
Man pleads not guilty after police find wife's body cooking on stove, Reuters
Egyptian president puts decisions above legal challenge, Reuters
Lawyer says Sarkozy judge thought hostage was billionaire backer, Reuters
The Law Society’s governing body today approved a three-year pilot project that will allow lawyer licensing candidates to either article or complete a Law Practice Program, starting in the 2014-15 licensing year.
The pilot project will measure competence through a fair process which provides access to the profession and fosters access to justice, while protecting the public.
The new licensing pilot will be extended for up to an additional two years if there is sufficient evidence to properly evaluate the pilot after three years.
Convocation also approved an appropriate member contribution to help defray costs of the pilot project. The amount of the contribution will be recommended by the Law Society’s Professional Development and Competence Committee to Convocation.
The program reflects the views of the majority of the Articling Task Force and was developed following extensive consultation with the profession and other stakeholders throughout 2012.
“Convocation had a robust discussion and agreed that this is the best path to follow, recognizing the complexity of the issue and that there is no one tried and tested solution,” Law Society Treasurer Thomas G. Conway said.
“This project addresses the reality of the articling placement shortage and that the articling requirement should not be a barrier to licensing to eligible, competent candidates.”
Under the pilot project, candidates may either complete the traditional 10-month articling term, with enhanced documentation, or an approximately four-month long LPP, which will also include an additional four-month co-operative work placement.
The Law Society will outsource the LPP and the establishment of the work placements will be the responsibility of the third-party provider.
The Law Society will oversee the assessments of defined learning outcomes necessary for entry-level practice for all candidates.
The debate over creating this new two-tiered articling system went on for many hours this morning and was watched online by over 1,000 people about 500 people. The Twitterverse was also all over it with a variety of people live tweeting and debating the debate. For a time, the hashtag #articling was the top trending topic in Canada.
No matter what the outcome, interest in the future of articling is great and the profession and law students probably had more input and open discussion about this issue than any before at the LSUC.
However, there was a tremendous amount of displeasure on two from law students who were following the debate on Twitter: no student voices were heard during the debate itself and the outcome. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:
@sweetcement: What a bad decision LSUC. Thank you for potentially creating a generation of under-qualified, indebted, unpaid lawyers. #articling
University of Ottawa’s @KatarinaGermani: disappointing decision by LSUC on the #articling crisis to move to a two-tier system, disregarding huge issues with access to the profession
@tomreidwilson in Toronto: Saddened by how little attention was paid to student voices in the recent #articling decision.
@JamesDBowie in Ottawa: LL.B’s like me who feel strongly about #articling still have the choice. I want to article, and I plan to.
@ErinDand: Sad that the #articling crisis has been ‘solved’ by a bandaid solution creating a 2tier system. LPP wont help the fact of too many lawyers
Ottawa’s @MichDoody: Well LSUC, we put an important decision in your hands... you just let down a lot of people.
@HopelessJD: my final thought is how screwed my future is by this decision
University of Toronto’s @Ella_Henry: Unpaid co-ops + higher fees is the opposite of helping students graduating w/ 100,000+ in debt
Some lawyers were behind the decision:
@dougferguson9, the director of Community Legal Services at Western Law: Congratulations to the benchers @LawsocietyLSUC for moving forward with change after a thorough debate.
@Joel_Welch: Thanks to the #36 #LUSC #Benchers who voted for changes to the licensing reqs. It gives many candidates a fighting chance.
Many were not:
@dforce66: I think our profession just made a huge mistake, but I guess only time will tell... #articling 36-20
Criminal lawyer @RHDefence: The proper solution to the articling crisis is known to everyone. The idea of a two tier licencing process is a sham
Ottawa’s @GalldinRoberts: #LSUC, hard to show young lawyers there is value to their work when we’re telling them to work for free #articling
@wiselaw: Wrong outcome, but cudos to the LSUC for the open process and live streaming of this important debate
@renattaaustin: LPP is now with us as an alternative to #articling. The ball is now in the law schools’ court to move to the Carnegie Model.
We’ll have more analysis and insight into the debate and its impact on Law Times and Canadian Lawyer 4Students next week.
|‘It is disappointing when the court sees counsel engage in sharp practice,’ the judge wrote of Rocco Achampong.|
“It is disappointing when the court sees counsel engage in sharp practice. It only feeds into the skewed perception that the public has of family law lawyers. It undermines the good work that family lawyers do. Family law cannot be practised this way and it is incumbent on the court to show its disapproval,” wrote Sherr.
Sherr said the “jurisdictional jigsaw” of family law matters in Toronto meant the mother was entitled to bring the Superior Court application, but noted it was Achampong’s decision not to let the father’s lawyer know he was wasting his time at the lower court.
The couple married in 2009 and separated in the summer of this year. The mother initially went to provincial court to seek custody and child support, but the case was dismissed in September as the parties attempted a reconciliation.
But that was short-lived, and in October, after the mother refused to let the father see his child, he issued his own application in provincial court. At the same time, he collected the child from daycare and did not return her to the mother.
On Oct. 10, an early motion date was set for Oct. 16 in Provincial Court, and Achampong and the father’s lawyer, John Schuman were in frequent correspondence over the next two days, before Achampong, acting on his client’s instructions, brought the motion in Superior Court on Oct. 12.
“In colloquial terms, Mr. Schuman was sandbagged on October 12, 2012 by Mr. Achampong. Mr. Achampong may have been directed by his client to take steps that day to have the child returned, but he had a professional obligation to advise Mr. Schuman that he was doing this,” Sherr wrote in his decision, adding he was initially sympathetic to the position Achampong was in.
“This was a difficult case. His client was undoubtedly anxious and pressing him to do something immediately to have her child returned to her. He was not satisfied with Mr. Schuman’s response to his requests to have the child returned to his client. He demonstrated in his correspondence a desire to resolve the matter without litigation. He showed considerable commitment to his client by cancelling a trip to Bavaria to deal with this matter. I had less sympathy for Mr. Achampong after he asked to make direct submissions in court. He attempted to minimize and rationalize his conduct,” the decision reads.
“This court would be much more sympathetic to Mr. Achampong if he had just said that he had made a mistake in judgment in the heat of emotional litigation. The arguments submitted by Mr. Achampong informed the court that at a very fundamental level he doesn’t appreciate that what he did was wrong. The objective of this exercise is not to punish Mr. Achampong and I regret any embarrassment the publication of this decision may cause him, but it is important to send a specific message to Mr. Achampong and a general message to the public that this is not the way family law is to be conducted, and in the rare cases where counsel act this way, the court will voice its disapproval and impose costs consequences. It is essential that family law litigants and counsel have confidence that they will be treated fairly during a difficult process.”
Subscribe to Legal Feeds
Gail J. Cohen