Legal Feeds Blog
Vancouver’s Battle of the Bar Bands will feature an officially recorded lawyer band on stage June 10 at the Vancouver Commodore Ballroom.
|The Disclaimers will be one of the bands taking to the stage to raise money on June 10.|
“While we try to do original songs,” says Haberl, who will be on stage, “The reality is that is a party venue and those attending are waiting to hear well-known music. So, I try not to overload with original material.”
The battle of the bands sells out each year and annually raises $100,000 for the B.C. branch of the Canadian Bar Association’s Benevolent Society, for a total of about $1.5 million over the event’s 15 year history.
This year’s event will feature eight bands: the Disclaimers, Chris Jackson Band, the Crumbling Skulls, House Arrest, Standard of Hair, Still Living at Home, and TOAD (Too Old and Difficult). The judges will ber a mix of lawyers with musical backgrounds, members of the judiciary, and media. This year’s media judges include radio and TV personality Vicki Gabereau and CBC radio’s Rick Cluff, who will also serve as emcee.
Stephanie Hacksel, a partner in ZSA Legal Recruitment which is the chief sponsor and provides winning cups, says good support is derived from Vancouver’s legal community with law firms making donations.
There are three cups given out each year, she says. The winning band captures the coveted top trophy cup for best band, while cups are also given out honoring the legal firm and non-legal firm that made the largest donation.
Singleton Urquhart lawyer Roger Holland, who has been involved with the event since it began and is a member of the Benevolent Society’s board, says this year’s line-up of bands included old favourites but also three newer bands, one a newly-formed group out of Surrey.
The new bands add to the competitive nature of the event and make it harder to predict a winner, he says.
“I give the judges suggested criteria for the bands such as originality, performance, and crowd response,” says Holland. The judges then rate the bands on points. Each band is made up of 80 per cent lawyers or members of a law firm.
Holland says the Battle of the Bar Bands has two objectives.
“The first is to raise money for the CBABC Benevolent Society,” he says. “The second is to provide once a year an entertaining evening for the audience who turn out.”
He says the battle is a great outlet for the legal community’s creative musicians. Many have played in bands or still play in bands professionally, he says, but there are also those who are “pretty darn good and could have played in bands professionally.”
The CBABC Benevolent Society is a provider of last recourse, says Holland, as each year it provides money to lawyers whose insurance may not cover costs of a medical or personal emergency or tragedy.
Holland says there have been “horrific” stories of illness and events that have affected lawyers, such as dealing with a child with a rare disease or needing financial support for medical services.
“We routinely provide grants to a lot of deserving people,” says Holland. “We have people who fall between the cracks and this is a way for lawyers to take care of their own.”
Tickets for the event can also be purchased on an individual basis ($35 for non-lawyers and $75 for lawyers) as well.
Man shot by police on Algonquin reserve has died, Canadian Press
Has pricey Vancouver become a low-cost legal offshoring destination? It’s not exactly obvious, but if the alternative is high-cost British or American talent, Vancouver might be a relative bargain.
|Time zone, Chinese talent, cheap dollar all considerations for U.K.-based Freshfields to set up an outpost on Canada’s west coast.|
As first reported in The Lawyer, Freshfields executive partner Michael Lacovara hinted that the firm will be hiring around 30 paralegals to create a facility that takes advantage of Vancouver’s Pacific time zone and deep pool of talent.
Freshfields declined comment for this story but Lacovara confirmed over e-mail that the firm is planning to launch a hub somewhere in North America: “The demand from our clients and people means that we are now planning to establish a Global Centre in North America.”
If the hub is set up in Vancouver, it will be Freshfields’ second such facility. The first one, now employing upwards of 300 paralegals and legal assistants, launched late last year in Manchester, England.
Lacovara told The Lawyer the firm would be particularly interested in recruiting Vancouverites with Mandarin-speaking skills: “The mix of work will be relatively similar to the Manchester office, though we will get a better Mandarin-speaking capability so it’s likely some of the work will come from different parts of the firm.”
Richard Stock, a Vancouver-based legal consultant, says an offshoring facility in the city would actually be a smart move, although he doubts the firm intends to set up downtown.
“Lots of firms have done this kind of outsourcing, but there’s just no logic for this being in the most expensive real estate in the city. London firms have typically done it in suburban areas — 40, 50, 60 miles up in the Oxford area,” he says. “They could put this one out in Surrey [B.C.], or the suburbs. Richmond makes a lot of sense.”
Stock suggests by bulking up on paralegal work in the Vancouver area, Freshfields can shift away from more expensive capacity in the U.K., while simultaneously improving overnight turnaround times to South American, Asian, and west coast clients.
Moreover, as law firms move toward alternative and fixed-fee arrangements, they’re far more likely to use paralegals, whose rates are tied to the fixed fee and not billed hourly.
“If you want to compete on an alternative fee model, then having an offshore, dependable critical mass of folks to do this stuff makes a lot of sense,” he says.
There’s another important reason to choose Vancouver over other cities on the west coast, Stock notes.
“The differential on the Canadian dollar makes it really much more interesting to put it here than anywhere in the states. You’re saving 30 per cent right there.”
And while the entry of a major player like Freshfields in the “document review” space may suggest increased competition, he says Canadian firms have little to worry about.
“I don’t think it’s to compete with anything Canadian whatsoever,” says Stock. “I think they’re just looking for a swell spot that’s not the Cayman Islands.”
Montreal protest denouncing police brutality turns violent, Canadian Press
Amid revelations of offshore financial dealings involving prominent figures worldwide, the Canada Revenue Agency says it’s looking to get its hands on the leaked records to zero in on the activities of Canadian residents.
|Toronto tax lawyer Vitaly Timokhov says it’s unlikely the CRA will be surprised by what it finds in the Panama Papers.|
“The agency is actively pursuing the co-operation of its tax treaty partners and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to obtain all of the leaked records that pertain to Canadian residents,” the CRA said.
“The Minister of National Revenue has instructed CRA officials to obtain the data leaked through the Panama Papers in order to cross-reference this information with the data already obtained through the Agency’s existing investigation tools.”
Canada is closely watching the cases of citizens found to have set up offshore companies in Panama and elsewhere and will refer cases to prosecutors if necessary, said Chloe Luciani-Girouard, a spokeswoman for National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier.
But a Toronto-based tax lawyer says it’s unlikely the CRA will be surprised by what it finds in the Panama Papers. While the agency is sure to find some cases of criminal tax avoidance, Vitaly Timokhov of Tax Chambers LLP says a significant portion of the documents will reveal either “clear stupidity” by those who don’t know the rules or those who have been taking their money offshore in “perfectly legal” ways.
While it’s possible, Timokhov says it’s unlikely those who want to set up criminal structures would go to Mossack Fonseca, which he describes as “the Cadillac of offshore firms.”
“You really wouldn’t deal with a law firm that serves governments and heads of states” to accommodate a criminal intent, he says.
Timokhov also says the CRA has the tools to track every financial transaction between Canada and any other country in the world, adding most of the information the agency needs is likely already available to it. The CRA also knows a significant portion of people who have moved their money offshore are not breaking any laws, he says.
“They know about every cent that leaves Canada. It’s a huge amount of information, I agree, and they have to use it selectively. But do they know about funds going to Panama? Oh my god, of course. Absolutely,” says Timokhov.
RBC, Canada's biggest bank, and its subsidiaries were associated with 378 shell companies registered in the Mossack Fonseca data, the Toronto Star reported.
RBC said that it worked within the legal and regulatory framework of every country in which it operates and had an extensive due diligence process to understand what its clients' intentions were.
A spokesman for federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that “at this point, we have no reason to believe Canadian banks have acted unlawfully.”
Last month, the Liberal government last month promised to invest almost $450 million over five years to gather more information about tax evasion and tax avoidance.
Since January 2015, Canada had already been monitoring all international transfers of funds worth more than $10,000, including those from Panama, said Luciani-Girouard.
According to Timokhov, what is common are Canadian residents who purchase a property in a foreign country, say Panama, for personal use without knowing the consequences of incorporating that property.
Since the buyer’s permanent residence is in Canada, they’d typically incorporate the property in order to appoint a local nominee shareholder or director who can manage the property on their behalf, says Timokhov. When the buyer then visits Panama and stays in that property, they must pay rent to the corporation. In other words, their usage of the property counts as benefit from their corporation for income tax purposes.
“This property now belongs to the corporation. There’s provision in the Income Tax Act, s. 15, which basically tells you if you move into the condo, you actually use corporate property. You’re actually receiving a benefit from your corporation,” says Timokhov.
If the Canadian resident did not pay rent on such property, they must self-assess the benefit they’ve received from the corporation equal to the fair value of the rent they’ve failed to pay. Whether individuals who don’t do so are wilfully ignorant of the rules is of course part of the question for the CRA.
With files from Reuters.
CALGARY — Nine months ago, Jeremy Millard was a Bay Street commercial and civil litigator at Dentons Canada but today he is the legal director for Uber Canada just as the disruptive ride booking company is encountering its biggest challenges in this country.
|Jeremy Millard calls his workload with new employer Uber a situation of ‘controlled chaos.’ (Photo: Jennifer Brown)|
“I went from being an Ontario litigator to cross-country everything,” says Millard.
He is the lone wolf in the Canadian Uber legal department but part of the 200 lawyers working in-house for Uber worldwide. “We have a nucleus of lawyers in San Francisco who are specialists in privacy and regulatory law.”
Speaking in the very city Uber has said it won’t operate in based on a bylaw passed in February, Millard spoke about how became a fan of the car service after getting an Uber ride with a friend following a baseball game.
When he heard about the job at Uber it sparked an interest at a time when he was looking for a significant job change. He had represented some vehicle manufacturers and worked in the United States for several years so felt comfortable taking on the job with California-based Uber.
Millard says Uber Canada is dealing with regulatory and other issues that the U.S. parent has been managing for 18 months now.
“I had reached that stage in my career at the firm where you find yourself thinking, it’s great to get a client to the end of a matter but you feel you’re on the pier waving goodbye to the ship. I wanted to be part of the creative force,” he says.
Despite having logged big firm hours for many years, Millard admitted he is working more hours now but at “a job I really love.”
Before joining Dentons seven years ago, Millard worked for two years at Goodwin Proctor LLP in Boston and clerked for justices of the Ontario Superior Court. The University of Toronto law grad also has political science degrees from Yale and master’s from Oxford.
He says regulatory matters dominate his day-to-day work. He calls his workload a situation of “controlled chaos” but says it’s all part of the evolution of the car service in Canada.
He pointed out that the company has had success getting structures in place with some Canadian cities, although the service is on hold in Edmonton until the province can provide the necessary insurance to drivers, likely by the summer. He said that while regulations arrived at in Edmonton are “favourable” the situation is “less so in Calgary.”
The Edmonton Vehicle for Hire Bylaw 17400 makes Edmonton the first Canadian city to legalize ride share services. It requires Uber to pay the city $50,000 a year plus six cents per trip, whereas Calgary charges drivers $220 a year for an operating licence.
The bylaw in Calgary would require Uber drivers to undergo police background checks, be properly insured, hold Class 4 licences and have their cars undergo safety checks. Uber has said the additional cost is prohibitive to drivers who only drive about 10 hours a week.
“Most are driving less than 10 hours a week so having a high entry point for drivers is not useful. What works is a model that involves licensing us and putting the duty on us to make sure the drivers are properly screened,” he said.
In Toronto it is expected a new regulatory framework will be developed for taxis and Uber will be worked on this month.
He said Uber doesn’t see the taxi industry as its main competition, but rather private car owners.
“I’m aware that a number of taxi companies are developing app-based services and we welcome that,” he said.
When asked how he balances being proactive with reactive in such a fast-moving environment, Millard says the challenges Uber has had in other cities help him see what might be coming next.
“We can always start to think about what the next issue might be,” he says. “But I think we’re at a turning point in terms of dealing with regulations in Canada and we will face the legal challenges as they come.”
Uber also manages a large amount of personal data from its client base and Millard says it is a challenge “jockeying a number of privacy regimes at once.”
“We have the largest data set on transportation in history. In New York and Boston we have a data-sharing agreement to help the cities deal with congestion,” he notes.
When it comes to the future of Uber, Millard says down the road autonomous or self-driving cars are the next frontier. The company has partnered with a think tank in Pittsburgh and has already begun road tests.
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Following news of the impending retirement of Supreme Court of Canada Justice Thomas Cromwell, former Liberal minister of justice and attorney general Irwin Cotler is calling for change in the way SCC justices are appointed.
|Irwin Cotler suggests a four-phase SCC justice appoinment process based on his experience as attorney general. (Photo: GMax Photography)|
“Regretfully, the judicial appointments process for the Supreme Court of Canada has been effectively dismantled,” says Cotler, the former MP for Mount Royal and attorney general from 2003 to 2006. Cotler was in Toronto for an event for the Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy last week.
“What we need to do . . . is to return to what I once enunciated as the four stages for a comprehensive, and representative and inclusive judicial appointments process for the Supreme Court of Canada, that will be anchored in merit, that will reflect our diversity, and will end up in having not only the best people appointed but achieving the best process for that purpose,” said Cotler.
Based on his experiences, Cotler recommends a first stage where a protocol would be established, spelling out the people the minister of justice would consult in her search for a new justice, and the personal and professional qualities the new justice would hold.
In stage two, a nine-person advisory group would look at the list, and report back on their top three picks. Depending on the region the retired justice hailed from, this group would include a representative of the corresponding law society, a representative from the Canadian Judicial Council, a representative of the Canadian Bar Association, and parliamentarians, as well as two “eminent” public citizens.
“They would engage in their own independent consultation process, and take that group of five to eight that they got, and winnow it down to three,” said Cotler. “They were also able to suggest somebody that might not have been part of the initial five to eight, if there were compelling reasons that a person was overlooked or should be considered.”
In the third stage, Cotler says the minister would “re-enter the consultative process” after receiving the short list and discuss the results.
In the fourth stage, a parliamentary hearing would take place to discuss the choice.
Cotler didn’t mince words, stating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should take a look at making what’s old new again.
“I’m saying that [Trudeau] bring back the four-staged process, as I outlined it. I think each stage can be refined and improved, and that we have a process that is open, transparent, comprehensive, inclusive and accountable,” said Cotler. “The public is part of that transparency and accountability process.”
Cotler’s calls for change aren’t new. In 2014, he suggested the Conservative government then in power “adopt a more representative and inclusive approach similar to that which I employed as minister of justice, in consultation with Parliament
“That approach could include a more broadly representative and inclusive judicial advisory selection panel, where no political party has a majority (as the government now gives itself), parliamentarians as a whole are in the minority, and the provincial attorney general and provincial bar are represented, along with the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Judicial Conference; a protocol of consultation published by the minister of justice, setting out whom the minister intends to consult and with whom the advisory panel will meet; a public announcement by the minister of the criteria by which each candidate will be evaluated; and a final hearing at which the minister of justice – and not only the nominee – answers questions from parliamentarians, notably regarding how the nominee meets the established criteria,” he wrote then.
But with a new government, perhaps Cotler’s calls for change have newly empowered listeners. Last week’s event to honour Cotler was attended by Liberal supporters like Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr, and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna. Ontario Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur was also in attendance.
Royal Bank of Canada said on Monday it had controls in place to prevent illegal activities after documents allegedly showed it had regularly used the services of a Panama-based law firm at the center of a massive data leak exposing possible tax evasion.
|(Photo: Mark Blinch/Reuters)|
RBC and its subsidiaries were associated with 378 shell companies registered in the Mossack Fonseca data, the Toronto Star newspaper reported.
In an emailed statement on Monday, RBC said that it worked within the legal and regulatory framework of every country in which it operates and had an extensive due diligence process to understand what its clients intentions are.
"Tax evasion is illegal, and we have established controls, policies and procedures in place to detect it and prevent it occurring through RBC," the bank said.
RBC said there were a number of legitimate reasons for clients to set up a holding company.
"If we have reason to believe a client is seeking to commit a criminal offence by evading taxes, we would report the offence and not do business with the client," it added.
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