Legal Feeds Blog
Gaffes: When a candidate accidentally tells the truth, The Globe and Mail
A group of articling students at DLA Piper Canada’s Toronto office are the latest in the legal profession to embark on a mission to sponsor a Syrian refugee family in their quest to come to here.
|DLA Piper Canada LLP articling students Hayley Gaucher, Simon Hurdon, Kristine Gorman, Christopher Kreutzner, and Nick Sharratt are raising money for a Syrian refugee family.|
A day after launching the campaign, the students have raised more than $2,700 towards their $15,000 goal. Hurdon says that’s the bare minimum they’re hoping to raise for the mother and child, who have family in Canada to assist them as well.
“We wanted to use our articling term in this Bay Street office, where people kind of have a lot — to do something meaningful that would be a bit more tangible than the usual fundraisers that you see,” Hurdon says.
“We thought this would be quite meaningful and tangible but also topical with everything in the news right now that is incredibly heartbreaking,” he adds.
Although the students hope to get donations from within the firm, the fundraising is not done through DLP Piper and the group will seek contributions from their private circles as well.
Hurdon says the response within the firm “has been tremendous” so far. “I think the response we get from here will be great; we’ve already received very kind donations from several lawyers yesterday, but obviously we’re hoping for much more.”
Anba Abraam's Coptic Charity, a Mississauga-based organization, will hold the funds in trust for the family, who is now taking refuge in Lebanon, and dispense it to them upon their arrival in Canada, Hurdon explains. The charity would be the official sponsor on immigration papers, but the students would be the donors.
Meanwhile, the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub, has, together with the Canadian Bar Association and other groups, launched a refugee sponsorship support program. Lawyers, law students, and sponsorship experts will be giving pro bono consultations to Canadians seeking to sponsor Syrian refugees.
About 450 lawyers across Canada, nearly 100 of them CBA members, are participating in the program, says Stéphane Duval, chair of the CBA’s immigration law section.
“We did the same when there was the Philippines storm and we did the same also when there was the earthquake in Haiti,” Duval says. But while volunteers for the Philippines and Haiti initiative were between 10 and 25 in number, Duval says an unprecedented number of lawyers have made themselves available this time.
Those seeking sponsorship help from within or outside of Canada will be told about their options, if options are available to them, Duval says, adding lawyers will also help out in filling out forms and submitting applications.
As the Supreme Court of Canada prepares for its fall session, its newest judge, Justice Russell Brown, was officially welcomed in a ceremony held at the court in Ottawa this morning.
Brown was appointed in late July by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to replace retiring justice Marshall Rothstein, who left the bench on Aug. 31.
Brown was appointed to the Alberta Court of Appeal in Edmonton last year after just 13 months on the Court of Queen’s Bench. He also served as a judge of the Court of Appeal for the Northwest Territories and a judge of the Court of Appeal of Nunavut.
Before being appointed to the bench, Brown served as an associate professor and associate dean at the University of Alberta Faculty of Law. He was also associate counsel with Miller Thomson LLP in Edmonton and practised at Carfra & Lawton LLP and Davis & Co. (now DLA Piper LLP) in Vancouver.
Law firms love to launch new offices but are loathe to admit defeat. But analysts are viewing last week’s news that Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP is shuttering its Paris office and restructuring its London location not as a warning sign about the firm but evidence it is behaving “like a grown up business.”
|Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP is shuttering its Paris office and restructuring its London location.|
In a statement the firm’s managing partner Peter Feldberg said: “We are strongly committed to the continued success of our international clients. This refocusing is consistent with that commitment.”
“As a result, the law firm is undertaking consultations concerning up to 70 positions that may be affected by the restructuring,” Feldberg added.
Many firms see the two European locations as gateways to business in the Middle East and Africa for international mining practices.
Faskens — which has more than 770 lawyers spread across offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, London, and Johannesburg — opened the Paris office in 2009 through a merger with Gravel Leclerc & Partners, including seven partners. A merger with London-based firm Stringer Saul LLP took place in 2007.
“I think firms are taking a more strategic look at some of their offices around the world and are behaving more like grown up businesses and are prepared to close where they are not performing in the way they want,” says Tony Williams, of London-based Jomati Consultants LLP.
“I wouldn’t see that as a failure or wrong, I would see it as good business.”
The fact a few firms in the last year or so have started closing underperforming locations is a sign of maturity in the market rather than weakness, he notes.
“I think in the past firms have been very reluctant to do that. They love opening offices but find it difficult to close one,” says Williams. “Being prepared to say, ‘It’s not working the way we wanted so let’s cut our losses,’ is a mature thing to do.”
The change in leadership at Faskens in the last year also allowed fresh eyes to look at whether the two offices were working. Last October, Feldberg, an energy lawyer from the firm’s Calgary office, replaced David Corbett, who had served as firm managing partner since 2006.
The weakness of the Canadian dollar in the last year probably hasn’t helped either — any losses experienced in the Euro or pound are bigger numbers in Canadian dollars.
“It may well be because of the slowdown in the commodities market generally, perhaps there is a perception there will be less cross-border activity involving Canadian clients so now might be the time to make that sort of decision,” says Williams.
He says the Faskens scenario reflects a larger issue confronting law firms around the world: getting profitable revenue growth is tough. Therefore if it is investing in Paris and London, it can’t invest in other areas of growth that might be more important.
“Each year you have a limited investment pot so if you’re investing in existing offices that’s one thing, or lateral hires or IT, but the brutal fact is when it’s gone it’s gone — it’s a finite pool,” he says.
The firm has been growing its Ottawa office and recently won a large bid-rigging jury trial. While Calgary is fairly stagnant, offices in Vancouver and Montreal are said to be performing well.
As consolidation among international law firms continues, with most of that being inbound to Canada rather than outbound, some observers say Faskens’ action is likely to be duplicated by others.
“This kind of restructuring by one of Canada’s most respected law firms will reverberate to any similar outbound expansion plans by other major Canadian firms, and you may see more embraces to major international law firms than office expansion by Canadian firms into foreign markets,” says Barry Fisher, former general counsel at SAP Canada and adviser to Avokka Law LLP.
“This may be symptomatic of the sort of structural change that some of us believe is coming to the delivery of legal services by large law firms, but I surmise that this Fasken decision is not that tipping point.”
Ontario fee fight reveals doctors’ sense of entitlement, The Globe and Mail
The details have yet to emerge, but Canada has scored a significant deal in reaching an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, says an international trade lawyer.
|'We’ll still have supply management, but imports will play a bigger role,' says Milos Barutciski.|
He admits he had been a skeptic of the likelihood of a deal until recently due to the political challenges to the deal in the United States.
Today, Canada announced that members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership had concluded a free-trade agreement covering a $28.5-trillion market. Besides Canada, the 12 countries in the trading block are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.
The deal provides for lower tariffs and covers a range of areas. They include: textiles and apparel; financial services; telecommunications; government procurement; labour; and competition policy.
While the government has released a summary of the deal that, for example, refers to an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism and provides for protection from expropriation without adequate compensation, Barutciski says the fine details have yet to emerge.
“Trade agreements historically follow a boilerplate,” he says.
For Canada, of course, supply management in the dairy sector was a key sticking point in the negotiations, especially given the political sensitivities around agriculture. The federal government has maintained it has protected supply management, and Barutciski, who notes he’s not a fan of the system, says that likely means it will continue as is but with a higher quota for imports.
“We’ll still have supply management, but imports will play a bigger role,” he says, suggesting the change would largely benefit the United States, New Zealand, and Australia.
The government did, in fact, release some details on the plans for the agricultural sector today. Under the agreement, Canada will open up access to imports through quotas phased in over five years: 3.25 per cent of Canada’s milk production for 2016; 2.3 per cent for eggs; 2.1 per cent for chicken; two per cent for turkey; and 1.5 per cent for broiler hatching eggs.
In return, the government will provide the supply-managed sector with $4.3 billion in support, including an income guarantee program to “keep producers whole” with 100-per-cent income protection to producers for 10 years from the day the trade deal comes into force. The funding will continue on a “tapered basis” for a further five years, the government announced today.
Graham Lloyd, general counsel with the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, emphasizes his organization is pleased with the agreement "in the circumstances" given reports that those lobbying on the supply-management issue in the United States had been seeking access to 15 per cent of the market.
"You can't ever say when you're losing market share that you're happy," he says. "But in the circumstances of what was at risk, we are relieved that it wasn't as serious as it could have been."
Lloyd also notes the organization is happy with a plan to cancel a duty-deferral program that allowed imports to Canada for processing with a window of up to four years to re-export the product. "That program was not well audited," he says.
"We know that as much as one per cent of our market was being taken," he adds.
In addition, Lloyd gave kudos for new funding for development and innovation in the sector.
"We are in need of investment for new plants . . . and this will go a long way towards that," he says, noting he's not yet ready to pronounce on the government's broader compensation program for the sector given the need to assess the impact of the quota changes.
"I'll say at this point, it's difficult to assess," he says.
Trade deals are, of course, always controversial, and the Conservative government has faced some criticism for moving on the issue during an election campaign with the NDP in particular expressing cynicism about the deal.
Barutciski, however, says the negotiations couldn’t stop for a Canadian election, particularly given U.S. President Barack Obama’s drive to complete a deal as one of his last major achievements in office. And he suggests the deal will open up significant opportunities for Canadian companies to join “broader Pacific supply chains.”
But the biggest imperative for Canada, he says, was avoiding a repeat of the situation with South Korea where the United States got ahead of Canada when negotiations with this country stalled over the auto sector.
“We were pretty much wiped out when we stalled over the auto issue,” says Barutciski.
He notes Canada’s beef and pork industries suffered significantly despite reaching a subsequent free-trade deal with South Korea.
“American beef and pork suppliers basically took over our market,” he adds, suggesting Canada faced a similar loss of market access if it stayed out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
While politicians such as Harper are touting the economic benefits of the deal, Barutciski says the partnership was in many ways about the U.S. “geopolitical objective” of countering China’s growing influence in the region. The deal took years to conclude, something he attributes to the complications of bringing in additional countries such as Canada late in the game.
“That made the negotiations more complicated,” says Barutciski, who nevertheless suggests that having countries such as Canada, Japan, and Mexico involved “makes this a very serious trading bloc.”
Update 4:25 pm: Quotes added from Graham Lloyd.
This week, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear four appeals, including the hugely important 16-year-old challenge of the late Harry Daniels, a Métis leader who sought a declaration that Métis and non-status aboriginals were “Indians” for constitutional purposes. The court will also hear a couple of cases on institutional delay and the right to be tried within a reasonable time.
Oct. 7 – British Columbia – Jordan v. R.
Charter of Rights: The applicant was charged with drug trafficking offences in 2008 related to a “dial-a-dope” operation selling cocaine and heroin. In September 2012, he applied for a judicial stay of proceedings, arguing the 32-month delay had violated his Charter right to be tried within a reasonable time. The Crown blamed the problem on “institutional delay.” The SCC will review how these kinds of delays should be weighed in determining stay applications.
Read the British Columbia Court of Appeal’s decision
Related news stories:
Four years later, couple finally faces drug trial, Surrey Now
Oct. 7 – Ontario – R. v. Williamson
Charter of Rights: The respondent, a former teacher, was charged with sexual offences against a young boy committed more than 30 years ago. He was arrested in January 2009. As a result of numerous delays, the trial by jury did not take place until December 2011. The respondent was convicted, but the verdict was thrown out at the Ontario Court of Appeal, which ruled that the delay violated the respondent’s Charter rights. The SCC will review whether the appeal court erred in its assessment, given that the respondent was out on bail at the time and still being paid as a teacher under suspension. A publication ban is in place.
Read the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision
Related news stories:
Ex-teacher gets four years in prison for molestation, Kingston Whig-Standard
Teacher convicted of sodomizing 12-year-old 50 times has conviction thrown out, The Globe and Mail
Oct. 8 – Federal – Daniels v. R.
Constitutional law: Métis leader Harry Daniels launched a constitutional challenge in 1999 against the federal government’s exclusion of Métis and non-status Indians from its definition of the term “Indian” as it applies to rights and obligations under the Constitution. Daniels sought a judicial declaration that Métis and non-status Indians are, in fact, “Indian,” and that the Crown owes the same obligations to them. The challenge succeeded at the Federal Court but was limited only to Métis people at the Federal Court of Appeal, which determined that non-status Indians should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The SCC will determine whether the appeal court erred in limiting the declaration.
Read the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision
Who are ‘Indians’ within Parliament’s legislative authority and why does it matter? canadianlawyermag.com
Oct. 9 – Quebec – Rogers Communications v. Châteauguay
Constitutional law: Rogers Communications sent the city of Châteauguay notice that it intended to build a cellphone tower at a particular location. The city issued a construction permit, but when citizens mobilized against the project, it offered another location. Rogers, however, opted for the first location. The city then issued a notice of land reserve. At trial, Rogers argued the city’s actions amounted to abuse of authority and interference with federal jurisdiction over telecommunications. The appeal court decided the city did not overstep its constitutional powers. The SCC will review the powers of municipalities over construction of telecom towers.
Read the Quebec Court of Appeal’s decision
With hundreds of poor or unwell people already being turned away for Legal Aid funding in Alberta, the problem is about to get more dire as the stop-gap Missing Advocate Project will be terminated on Nov. 1.
|'The problem is that access to justice has to be seen as a human right like health care or water,' says Anthony Moustacalis.|
They are calling on the ministries of Justice and the Attorney General and the province’s recently elected NDP government for better funding.
“Unfortunately, the effect on access to justice and the efficient administration of our court system will be obvious and immediate,” the Oct. 1 release states. “The demand for legal services for poor and handicapped people in Alberta has increased dramatically over the past decade. Legal Aid Alberta has now been starved to the point where the working poor are routinely turned away as ineligible.”
“The Province of Ontario has at least recognized the historical underfunding [of legal aid] so we’re faring better here; it’s commendable, but long overdue and unfortunately it’s trying to remedy a situation that’s 25 years old,” says CLA president and Toronto-based defence lawyer Anthony Moustacalis. “It’s a country-wide problem and it’s acute.”
Because of the economic downturn and funding struggles for legal aid in Alberta, the Missing Advocate Project was created a little more than a year ago by the legal associations to ensure people had proper representation and advice within reasonable time. In that time, the project has served about 900 clients.
“The many lawyers involved in providing this service to the public have done so without remuneration and often at considerable expense to themselves and, at times, their families,” the release states. “Having provided this service to prop up an unsupported legal aid system for the past 12 months, our membership has determined that it is no longer able, or willing, to continue doing so.”
In a 2014 interview with the Calgary Herald about the province’s legal aid funding crisis, CDLA president Ian Savage explained provincial funding has not changed since 2011 at approximately $58.8 million annually. The Alberta Law Foundation also provides some annual funding, but that dropped from $14.9 million in 2009 to just a little more than $1 million in 2011.
The foundation signed an agreement to provide a minimum of $5.5 million in 2012, but that agreement comes to a close in 2016, leaving some uncertainty, said Savage.
“The problem is that access to justice has to be seen as a human right like health care or water,” Moustacalis says. “This is a pressing human rights issue.”
Subscribe to Legal Feeds
- Neil Etienne
- Patricia Cancilla
- David Dias
- Yamri Taddese
- Jennifer Brown
- Glenn Kauth
- Gail J. Cohen
- Karen Lorimer