Legal Feeds Blog
Former Quebec premier returns to practising law, The Globe and Mail
Doctor to leave Canada after legal battle over for-profit clinic, The National Post
Business man wanted in the U.S. arrested in Toronto, The Vancouver Sun
Hurricane Sandy will not stop the top court, Reuters
Supreme Court to rule on use of drug-sniffing dogs, Reuters
Murder plot against top prosecutor uncovered by Cyprus police, Reuters
Former Philippine president pleads not guilty in plunder case, Reuters
Crown will soon have to report police they believe lied under oath, Toronto Star
Illegal waste should be removed by Metro Vancouver: Cache Creek mayor, Vancouver Sun
B.C. Supreme Court to hear case of man banned from his hot tub after noise complaints, The National Post
Highest court to look at limits of government spying, Reuters
Planned Parenthood denied appeal; Texas will immediately cut funds says governor, Reuters
Italy's ex-PM sentenced to jail for fraud, Reuters
Prosecutors in Belgium look into shooting death of Exxon executive, Reuters
The debate was held Thursday night in Vancouver at the Pan Pacific Centre with more than 100 lawyers and supporters gathering to hear the learned thoughts on the pressing issue of maintaining the HST in British Columbia. No one was deterred that the issue had already been decided in a provincial referendum that will see a throwback to the separate PST and GST system reintroduced on April 1, 2013.
On the pro side (fighting to keep the HST, a lost cause as mentioned above) were Canadian Lawyer columnist and franchise lawyer Tony Wilson of Boughton Law Corp. and University of British Columbia law student Chris Thompson. Thompson had become somewhat of a local celeb on the HST scene prior to the referendum with his pro-HST YouTube video FightFightHST - A Letter to Bill Vander Zalm.
Against were Michael Bain, of Hamilton Howell Bain & Gould, and Greg Allen of Hunter Litigation Chambers.
The official judges for the debate were B.C. law deans Mary Anne Bobinski from UBC and Donna Greschner of the University of Victoria. "I was ready in case there was some thoughtfulness needed," remarked Bobinski. She was not called upon for that at any point in the evening.
The annual event raises money for the BCLI and was hosted by CBC Radio One’s Rick Cluff.
Photos: Gail J. Cohen
(l to r) Andrew Braun, Caleb Yong, Dave O'Mahony, and Alex Chiang of TD, the platinum sponsor of this year's Great Debate, enjoy a cocktail before dinner.
(l to r) Gwendoline Allison and Kirsty Foy, who just days ago launched their new law firm Foy Allison, attend the evening festivities.
Getting ready for the big debate are Kisa Macdonald, of Hammerberg Altman Beaton and Maglio, and Scott MacKenzie of Boughton Law Corp., another sponsor of the event.
Supporting their team. University of British Columbia law student Brett Woodside is flanked by Denice Thompson, the mother of debater Chris Thompson, and Anna Lucarino, debater Thompson's girlfriend.
(l to r) Richard Avis, president and CEO of Aussie Pet Mobile Canada, debater Tony Wilson, and CLE BC's CEO Ron Friesen.
First up for the side arguing to keep the HST was University of British Columbia law student and tax law geek Chris Thompson.
Making leading remarks for the con side was Greg Allen of Hunter Litigation Chambers. "The HST is not for me!"
Appearing for the pro-HST team in his fifth and final Great Debate was Tony Wilson of Boughton Law Corp. He hammed it up for the crowd.
Michael Bain, of Hamilton Howell Bain & Gould, had some help to share a few choice thoughts on the anti-HST side.
Being lawyers, there were, of course, objections. The dummy got ejected.
B.C. law school deans Donna Greschner of the University of Victoria, left, and Mary Anne Bobinski were the official arbiters of the debate. Both found eloquent ways to recuse themselves and leave the decision up to the "people."
Gasps from the crowd when the electronic insta-vote showed a close call between the pro sides. "It's just like B.C. politics," commented moderator Rick Cluff, a local CBC morning show host.
At the end of the day, a good debate was had by all.
Pro-HST debaters Tony Wilson and Chris Thompson celebrate their victory with a massive trophy that will bear their names in perpetuity.
|John Boscariol says foreign investors need to know what the Canadian laws and requirements are for takeovers.|
John Boscariol, head of McCarthy Tétrault LLP's International Trade & Investment Law Group, has numerous foreign clients looking to invest in Canada but they're unsure about the approval process.
At a minimum, they need to understand what the Canadian laws and requirements are for foreign takeovers, says Boscariol.
"Whenever you have a system that allows more government discretion [and] less explanation of what factors the government takes into account in making decisions, that creates uncertainty, [which] makes jurisdiction unattractive to foreign investors," he says.
On Monday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised to reveal new guidelines soon on foreign takeovers after the government's surprise move last Friday to reject Malaysian state-owned oil company Petronas' $6-billion bid to take over Progress Energy Resources Corp., one of Calgary's natural gas producers.
"Right now we're in a pretty drastic situation where there's very little to guide foreign investors. In fact, the decisions that have come out — to some foreign investors — may not be so friendly," says Boscariol.
There are other big deals in the works that the government has yet to decide on, including Chinese state-owned CNOOC Ltd.'s $15.1-billion bid for Calgary-based Nexen Inc. and U.S. energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp.'s proposal to buy Western Canada's Celtic Exploration Ltd. for $3.1 billion.
Boscariol says foreign investors need some sort of assurance. "They're committing a huge amount of capital to the country, they need just some predictability as to how they will be treated [and] what the rules are," he says.
"It will depend on how they're drafted, but I presume that the guidelines in and of themselves will provide some certainty, so I think that's a step forward in making Canada a more favourable place for foreign investors," he adds.
Boscariol recognizes that it's a bit of a catch-22 situation in that having explicit guidelines on foreign takeovers reduces the government's discretion but, on the other hand, not having any guidelines deters foreign investment.
"Whenever government comes up with guidelines, to an extent they're handcuffing themselves — they're putting something out there, they're putting it in writing. So I can see why, from the government's point of view, it may make sense to be as flexible as possible; to retain as much opportunity as possible to treat different foreign investors differently," he says.
Federal court rules Conrad Black does not have to be given a hearing, The Globe and Mail
Disgraced legal star tells court forging signatures World Bank bids was the norm, The National Post
New trial for man accused of distributing child porn last resort: judge, Vancouver Sun
Judge delays ruling on Romney's testimony allegedly misrepresenting the worth of friend's company, Reuters
Bank of America sued over alleged mortgage fraud, Reuters
Lawyer for disgraced Chinese politician unsure if he will be allowed to represent him, Reuters
Convicted ex-butler moved from house arrest to Vatican jail cell, Reuters
|Former UBC law prof Lorna June McCue claims the school discriminated against her.|
In an Oct. 12 decision that rejected part of McCue’s claim for late filing, B.C. Human Rights Tribunal Chairman Bernd Walter summarized her complaint.
“Ms. McCue alleges that her culturally-traditional approach to teaching and scholarly activity, have been under-valued” in the tenure and salary review processes, and that her situation “shows a pattern of systemic discrimination against non-traditional indigenous scholars and women,” Walter wrote.
The university denied any discrimination in documents filed with the tribunal, which has yet to decide on the merits of McCue’s complaint.
McCue joined the law faculty in 1998 as an assistant professor, before landing a tenure track appointment in 2000. A normal tenure track cycle takes seven years, but McCue claimed hers was delayed by parental leave, as well as health and family matters that had an impact on her work. She applied for tenure in June 2009, but was rejected by the university’s president in 2011. McCue has also appealed that decision, according to Walter’s ruling.
According to Walter’s decision, McCue claims the university failed to address discriminatory student evaluations of her 2005 first-year property law course, and then relied on them in part when making the decision to deny her tenure.
She also claims she was underpaid during her time on the faculty, having been turned down 12 years straight for merit pay awards between 2000 and 2011. During that time, she did receive four “performance salary adjustments,” but her pay has been static since 2009, says Walter’s decision.
According to the Vancouver Sun’s database of public sector salaries, McCue was paid $110,000 in the 2010/2011 fiscal year.
“Ms. McCue says that her compensation has been affected because her scholarship has not been appropriately assessed, or, it has been assessed and considered in a manner which does not properly value the significance of her non-traditional approach to scholarship as an aboriginal woman and is discriminatory on the basis of her ancestry,” Walter wrote.
Walter ruled the tribunal could only consider McCue’s salary denials from 2009 to 2011, rejecting the ones from earlier years as untimely.
He also refused to accept her allegations that she was denied study leave in 2010 for discriminatory reasons because they were filed outside the six-month limit. McCue wanted to join her husband in California, where he was travelling for a fellowship at Stanford University, starting in July 2010. McCue applied verbally for study leave in April 2010, but was rejected because she had not made a formal application and because the university said they needed her for teaching, according to Walter’s decision.
At one stage, McCue claims the university offered to approve a combined compassionate and study leave as long as she agreed to resign her position, but an agreement couldn’t be reached and she was turned down again.
In November 2010, McCue claims she was granted study leave from July 2011 to June 2012, contingent on her tenure application. When the answer came back negative, she was told she was no longer eligible for study leave.
Walter ruled the 2011 study leave complaint was timely, and could be heard as part of McCue’s claim that her tenure application was discriminatorily denied.
Update: Oct. 26: UBC spokeswoman Lucie McNeill confirmed McCue's employment with the university ended on June 30, 2012, but declined to comment on the specifics of the case because it is still before the tribunal. "The university is committed to providing fairness and equity in its workplaces. UBC takes all complaints of discrimination very seriously," McNeill said in a statement.
Former Quebec legal star pleads guilty to multiple disciplinary infractions, The National Post
B.C. Supreme Court has several gang trials ongoing, but anti-gang police have cut Vancouver courthouse presence, Vancouver Sun
Unspecified conflict of interest delays court case for man accused of confining N.S. teen, The Globe and Mail
Portland animal law program sees first graduate, The Chronicle Herald
Ex-Goldman director to be sentenced today, Reuters
New Zealand judge throws out gang charges after fake prosecution of undercover cop, The New Zealand Herald
Samsung did not infringe on Apple patent: Dutch court, Reuters
Biggest Mexican labour law reform in 4 decades sent back by Senate, stalling legislation, Reuters
|Gerald Ghikas predicts matters from Asia will play a big role in his new arbitration practice.|
Ghikas is currently chairman of the international trade and arbitration practice of BLG and will retire from the firm Dec. 31. He will be succeeded in the position by Robert Deane.
Clemens is a partner of Nathanson Schachter and Thompson LLP, a litigation boutique in Vancouver. He will remain associated with his law firm.
Spencer Charest and Tony Lutz, the entrepreneurs behind both the chambers and the new VCDR, are best known as the founders of Charest Reporting Services. Charest Reporting will continue its court reporting business at its present location.
“In addition to a select group of resident neutrals, Vancouver Arbitration Chambers plans to offer non-resident memberships to other practitioners who have frequent requirements for hearing facilities in Vancouver,” explained Charest.
The VAC will provide office accommodation and support services for up to five independent resident arbitrators and mediators, as well as space for visiting neutrals using the hearing facilities at VCDR.
When it opens the VCDR will include seven hearing rooms capable of accommodating up to 40 participants and provide access to breakout rooms, catering facilities and a range of other services to support modern domestic and international cases.
The new arbitration centre will not only serve demand in the Vancouver area but also create an incentive for matters from other jurisdictions.
“What we’re hoping is all arbitration organizations will begin to seek arbitrations in Vancouver,” says Ghikas. “We’ve always had a fairly active domestic commercial arbitration business in Vancouver but where we’ve seen quite a bit of an uptick is in the international arbitration practice, and a lot of that is Asian parties withdisputes with American and in some cases Canadian parties.”
In the past three years, Ghikas says he has had about a dozen cases where he sat as arbitrator involving Asian parties.
“With international arbitrations what people are looking for is a neutral, not the home base ofeither party. It remains to be seen, but I expect a pretty strong Asian focus,” he says.
Deane says international arbitration has grown in recent years and particularly on the West Coast because it is well situated with relatively good access to Latin America.
“You also see Canadian companies increasingly going abroad and the ability to use the lawyers you’ve been using for many years is very appealing to them. I think it’s a useful indication of a maturation of the market, certainly on the West Coast, but it’s consistent with what we see in other jurisdictions,” he adds.
The establishment of the VAC and VCDR creates a much-needed formalized setting for arbitration on the West Coast.
“You can’t underestimate the value of having a purpose-built arbitration facility, and a facility that is led by people who understand the particular needs of arbitral users. You see that happening in Toronto and jurisdictions throughout the world where you have specialized facilities developed and cater to arbitration,” says Deane.
Big companies challenge Quebec's language laws in court, Toronto Star
Call for reform of Supreme Court of B.C. judges, arguing for more minorities, women, Vancouver Sun
Child-free zones spark discrimination lawsuits, The National Post
Texas company considers legal action to get Armstrong bonus money back, Reuters
Top appellate court in armed forces suspends court-martial for massacre suspect indefinitely, Reuters
Egyptian constitution case sent to higher court in bid to buy more time to finish it, Reuters
Prosecutors move to charge niece, doctor of Benin president with conspiracy, attempted murder, Reuters
|Gold mining, like the South Deep mine outside Johannesburg, is one of the industries behind Faskens latest merger. (Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters)|
The Bell Dewar team has expertise in industries that are important in developing economies, including mining, energy, infrastructure and projects, life sciences, transactions, litigation, and international arbitration.
“We knew we needed to do something and this worked out well,” says David Corbett, managing partner at Faskens.
“What we’re seeing is a lot of investment from both the Middle East, Africa, and Asia generally. Of course, we’re very interested in the Asian market because there is Asian investment coming into Canada, but it’s also going into Africa. That made it very interesting for us from that perspective as well.”
Blaize Vance, managing partner of Bell Dewar, will become the regional managing partner for Africa while Corbett will continue as Faskens’ firm managing partner.
Faskens has had an office in Johannesburg since 2003. A year ago last November, Faskens started seriously looking to broaden its reach in Africa.
“We thought if we want to be relevant in the market, we have to have more people on the ground,” says Corbett.
“This is what clients were telling us: they were expecting more people if they brought in a major transaction. It’s not really good to say we have five or six people that can do the transaction. That’s not what they expect. From a competitive perspective, we took the position that we had to either grow the office that we had, which we thought would be rather difficult, or find a suitable merger candidate.”
Corbett says some initial discussions with Bell Dewar took place five years ago. This time around, Bell Dewar recognized it would be advantageous to have English law capability as well as on the French and civil law side. Corbett says Bell Dewar also saw the importance of Canadian direct investment in Africa and the significance of the Toronto Stock Exchange in terms of the mining industry.
“We had the experience of opening an office in London in 1986 where we had one, then two, then three, then two lawyers and we never found it to be a very satisfactory way for our firm to service the clients and develop our business. I’m not saying it doesn’t work for other firms, but our experience was it didn’t work as well for us.”
Faskens now has 775 lawyers working in nine offices in Canada, Europe, and Africa. That makes it one of the largest law firms operating in Africa.
In terms of further growth, Corbett says the firm has also had a group of partners studying for the last five years how to make the most of the U.S. market.
“The trick is to figure out the right play in the U.S., whether it be a merger or to continue having best friend relationships with firms, which is what our strategy has been. It’s not like a Canadian firm is going to go into the U.S. market and become the dominant player in that market. What you’re really looking for is outward investment from the U.S. into Canada or elsewhere in the world.”
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Gail J. Cohen