A new report on the experience of self-represented litigants in summary judgment motions has at least one law professor concerned about unfairness to those unfamiliar with the process.
“They’re pushing on an open door because they know there’s already a bias here,” says University of Windsor Faculty of Law professor Julie Macfarlane of the growing use of summary judgment motions by lawyers acting against unrepresented parties.
Today, the National Self-represented Litigants project released a report on the experience of self-represented litigants in regards to summary judgment motions brought in their cases.
Working with Katrina Trask and Erin Chesney, Macfarlane, who’s director of the project, compared the results of summary judgment motions involving self-represented parties in both 2004 and 2014, the year in which the Supreme Court of Canada released its landmark decision in Hryniak v. Mauldin.
In 2004, the researchers found five cases across Canada involving a summary judgment motion with a self-represented party. By 2014, the number of cases had increased to 61.
All but four of the 2014 cases involved a motion brought by a party with counsel. The success rate of the motions was 96 per cent, a number Macfarlane calls “extraordinary.”
“There is a risk here, and the risk is what we’re trying to report on,” she says.
She cites a concern that parties with counsel are using summary judgments as a tactic against those unfamiliar with the system and who are “completely confused.”
“We need to be more sensitive to the fact that people make mistakes,” says Macfarlane.
“The much deeper problem is a lot of people who are in a legal process now are not managing what they need to do in order to represent themselves properly,” she adds.
The success rate for summary judgment motions was similar even after removing cases in which there were findings that the unrepresented party had been vexatious.
The researchers also looked at Ontario-specific data involving motions under rules 20 and 21 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. Using those criteria, the number of cases involving unrepresented parties was four in 2004 with three of them brought by people with counsel. By 2014, there were 13 such motions with 88 per cent of those brought by represented parties having been successful.
Given the numbers, Macfarlane is calling for some assistance to help unrepresented litigants respond to summary judgment motions.
“In some of these cases, they had literally left off a comma,” she says, raising a concern about access to justice for those without counsel.
Part of Macfarlane’s concern is around judges’ attitudes and potential bias given what she says is their understandable difficulty in dealing with unrepresented parties. But, she adds, it’s unfair to hold such litigants to the same standards as lawyers.
And with several courts considering new summary judgment procedures in light of Hryniak, Macfarlane is urging caution.
“We have to be careful about how we put those new procedures together,” she says.
A group of New Brunswick lawyers have launched legal action to prevent at least two court closures in the province.
St. Andrews lawyer David Bartlett filed a motion Oct. 7 on behalf of the Charlotte County Barristers’ Society, seeking that a budget decision to close certain courthouses announced in March be quashed or suspended. Bartlett says he will be filing another motion seeking a temporary injunction in the next two weeks to stop the closures, pending the hearing of his Oct. 7 motion.
Courts in Sussex and Grand Falls were put on the chopping block and have already ceased operations, Bartlett explained, while the two he is trying to save in Grand Manan and St. Stephen’s are winding down with no caseload scheduled after Oct. 23.
“It’s baffling,” Bartlett says.
The court in St. Stephen’s “is a full-blown court” and central for the very rural county. It contains offices for the judges, youth court services, a law library, probation and victim services and the department of mental health. Bartlett said those services won’t be as accessible if court services are consolidated at a new courthouse in St. John, a one-and-a-half to four-hour drive for most of its population. Added to the travel issue is that the county covers three islands, including Grand Manan, that can only be accessed by additional lengthy ocean ferry rides.
“Charlotte County is a very rural area, it’s also a poor area and a lot of people simply don’t have cars. It’s an hour-and-a half to four hours minimum for over half our population in St. Stephen’s to drive to the new court house in St. John and on top of all of this there is no public transit,” Bartlett says. “The RCMP here will be the highest paid taxi drivers in the world.”
Bartlett explained in 2007 the provincial government of the day closed some smaller satellite courts and was looking to establish if more courts could be closed. He says a task force was formed at the time and two Law Society representatives were chosen as members, “but that task force never met.”
Bartlett said the society was ensured by the provincial powers that before any court closure there would be advance consultation, and if a court was deemed fit for closure, there was to be a year delay before implementation.
He said this past March when the Ministry of Finance announced the closures it came as a surprise.
“There was no advance notice whatsoever,” he says, adding part of his process now is finding out exactly who made the decision to close the courts and on what grounds. He says there is a request for disclosure seeking that information.
“We don’t know where that decision [to close the courts] was made and that’s part of our application, seeking disclosure. It’s like trying to scale a glass wall with no finger holds.”
Judges on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del. and Ontario Superior Court of Justice held an unprecedented joint cross-border trial on the dispute, with the courtrooms linked by video. The legal battle has raged for years through numerous courts, chewing up more than $1 billion in fees for lawyers and other advisors.
Nortel filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and sold its global operations and patents, raising the cash in dispute. In the years that corporate entities in Canada, the United States and Europe have fought over the funds, retirees and bond investors have awaited repayment.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross and Justice Frank Newbould said in separate opinions that each regional business would receive cash to pay its creditors based on their claims against it as a percentage of the overall claims worldwide.
The judges said in their simultaneous opinions that a pro rata division was the most fair and satisfactory way to split the money.
Gross wrote in his 130-page opinion that the various regional business “have lost sight of the irrationality of their respective positions” and left “no virtually no middle ground.”
The Canadian unit had argued it should receive about 83 per cent of the money, because it was the legal owner of many of the assets sold. The European businesses wanted the money divided based on each region’s contribution toward creating the value of the assets that were sold. As the U.S. unit saw things, it deserved 73 percent of the cash based on its beneficial ownership model.
Lawyers for the U.S., Canadian and European units of Nortel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“It would not be going out on a limb to say that the rulings get appealed regardless of what they contain,” wrote Kevin Starke, an analyst with CRT Capital in a note published before the opinions.
He said a “middle ground” ruling was best in terms of wrapping up the cases without dragging them out for more than another year.
Nortel was once among the world’s largest tech companies. Its stock market valuation swelled to $260 billion and Nortel employed nearly 100,000 at its peak, before the bursting of the telecom bubble and accounting problems.
In his decision, Newbould gave kudos to the court reporters, technical staff and lawyers who all worked on the complex cross-border case. As well he had praise for his U.S. counterpart.
“I want to thank Judge Gross for his courtesies and good humour. It has been a pleasure to work with him. Without such a good relationship and the trust that we developed for each other, this trial and its conclusion would not have been possible.”
Read more on the nuts and bolts of how the case was conducted in next week’s Law Times.
|Justice Marianne Rivoalen is the new associate chief justice of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench (Family Division).|
Rivoalen was appointed a judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench for Manitoba (Family Division) in 2005. Prior to that, she was a senior counsel and team leader of aboriginal law services with the Department of Justice Canada as well as the indian residential school litigation counsel as well as a long-practising litigation lawyer with Aikins,MacAulay & Thorvaldson in Winnipeg. She has also been an arbitrator with the Manitoba Labour Board, deputy chief commissioner of the Residential Tenancies Commission in Winnipeg, and a litigation lawyer with Pitlabo & Hoskin in Winnipeg.
Richard F. Southcott, vice president and general counsel at Irving Shipbuilding Inc. in Halifax, has been appointed to the Federal Court to fill a new position created by Bill C-11.
Southcott was called to the bar in 1993, then joined Stewart McKelvey in Halifax as an associate, practising marine law and commercial litigation. He became a partner in 2001, and was the regional managing partner from 2008 until 2013, when he joined Irving Shipbuilding.
Also from Halifax, R. Lester Jesudason has been appointed to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, Family Division. He replaces Justice R. James Williams, who elected to become a supernumerary judge as of April 18.
Jesudason was called to the bar in 1997, then joined Blois Nickerson & Bryson LLP in Halifax as an associate, practising civil litigation and insurance law. He became a partner in 2002. He has been chairman of the Nova Scotia Police Review Board and active with various bar associations.
In Saint John, N.B., Marie-Claude Blais is the newest judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench of New Brunswick, Trial Division. She replaces to replace Justice Peter Glennie who went supernumerary April 22.
Blais was called to the bar of Quebec in 1995 and New Brunswick in 1998. She was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2010. She has been counsel with McInnes Cooper since 2014. Prior to that, she had been minister of education and early childhood development for the province of New Brunswick. She was also the first woman to serve as attorney general and minister of justice and consumer affairs for New Brunswick. She was also a lawyer with LeBlanc Maillet, where she practised corporate and business, family, and real estate law.
In Ontario, Superior Court Justice Lois B. Roberts has been elevated to the Court of Appeal. She fills the spot left when Justice George Strathy was named chief last June.
Roberts was appointed to the Superior Court in 2008. Prior to her appointment, she was a lawyer with Genest Murray LLP and Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, practising commercial litigation, employment law, and human rights law.
Toronto lawyer Kenneth G. Hood fills Roberts spot on the Superior Court. He was called to the bar in 1982 and was a certified specialist in civil litigation.
Hood was counsel with Schneider Ruggiero LLP since 2010. Prior to that, he was worked with firms Lawrence Lawrence Stevenson LLP in Brampton, Ont., Glaholt LLP in Toronto, Dingwall McLaughlin and Woolley Dale & Dingwall (later changed to Dale and Dingwall).
|Interior of the Supreme Court of Canada in 1890. (William James Topley/Library and Archives Canada)|
This obscure bit of trivia is about to become a lot less obscure with the announcement yesterday that the SCC — with the help of its technology partners and provincial law foundations — has finally succeeded in making its complete collection of historical decisions available online (hence, the link above).
The court credits Lexum, the software company that manages the SCC’s online repository, as the driving force behind the decision to disseminate its complete collection.
Pierre-Paul Lemyre, head of business development at Lexum, says his company was there right at the very beginning, when in 1993, Daniel Poulin — the University of Montreal law professor who would go on to found Lexum — approached the court with the idea of publishing decisions on the newfangled medium known as the Internet.
The SCC became the first Canadian court to post decisions online, and only the third or fourth court in the world to do so. The first online decisions came from the Supreme Court of the United States, published by Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute (LII).
“So it was at the very beginning of what we know of as the Web today,” says Lemyre. “From the get-go, the dream was that at some point all decisions, the complete collection, would be available for people to consult and use online.”
Only current decisions, however, were being published until 2007, when Lexum partnered with CanLII (the Canadian version of Cornell’s LII) to solicit funding from the provincial law foundations in order to post Supreme Court decisions retroactively.
The initial idea was to go back 10 years. In 2007, Lexum and CanLII worked with the Law Foundation of Ontario to publish decisions going back to 1986; in 2009, the Law Foundation of British Columbia came on board; in 2010 Alberta; in 2014 Quebec; and by the end of 2014, Lexum and CanLII funded projects to include SCC decisions emanating from PEI, the territories, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Working with the provincial law foundations, Lexum and CanLII began to fill in the blanks online. By the end of 2014, only 522 appeals remained — those from Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and a few older appeals from the Federal Court.
Then, earlier this year, the Supreme Court decided to finish the job with a $25,000 grant that Lexum and CanLII used to collect, scan, and type out the remaining appeals.
Lemyre says the SCC’s funding does more than provide a resource: “For the people involved in the judicial field, it’s a statement that the courts should play a central role in improving access to their own decisions, which they are not all doing.”
Even as Lexum announces the complete collection of SCC decisions online, however, Lemyre says they’re not quite done yet.
While all decisions published in the official Supreme Court Reports catalogue are now available online, decisions that were not reported — mainly because they were considered insignificant — remain a mystery.
“So for the next step, we’re thinking of looking at the unreported decisions, because before 1970, not all decisions from the Supreme Court were actually put in the reports. We estimate that there may be about 500 older decisions that were not reported.”
These decisions would be more interesting from a historical perspective than a legal one, but Lemyre says you never know.
“We’ll discover that when we process them, but we can run into interesting things there. . . . To cite them you have to know they existed. Probably lawyers involved in the file itself would know about them, but that’s about it.”
|‘Two wrongs do not make a right and provocation is not a reason to contravene the rules about pleading,’ wrote Justice Paul Perell.|
Large sections of the statement of defence in Jacobson v. Skurka include “a level of detailed evidence one would not find in reasons for judgment after a trial,” the judge observed.
Another section of the pleadings was described by Perell as “replete with congratulatory, self-serving conclusions such as a ‘very solid plea agreement, really good plea, got him a better plea agreement because of our efforts,’” says the ruling, issued March 16.
“It may be the situation that Mr. Skurka was baited by the provocative pleading of Mr. Jacobson to respond with a provocative and polemic pleading of his own, but Mr. Skurka ought not to have taken the bait. Two wrongs do not make a right and provocation is not a reason to contravene the rules about pleading,” Perell wrote.
Jacobson was represented by Toronto lawyer Robert Trifts on the motion to strike the statement of defence. Skurka is represented by William McDowell, a partner at Lenczner Slaght LLP in Toronto and a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada.
“At the end of the day, Mr. Jacobson is pleased with this decision,” says Trifts, who is co-counsel with Ronald Flom in the litigation.
McDowell is out of the country and unavailable for comment. Paul-Erik Veel, a colleague at Lenczer Slaght who is also acting for Skurka, says “given that the overall matter is still before the courts, we’re not in a position to comment.”
Perell granted Skurka leave to amend his statement of defence along with directions to comply with the rules of pleading. Perell also denied Jacobson’s request to strike Skurka’s counterclaim, which seeks $1.8 million in damages for the tort of abuse of process.
The fractious legal dispute stems from Skurka’s past representation of Jacobson on criminal charges filed in 2006 by the United States government. Jacobson was alleged to have used his Tel Aviv-based credit card processing company to facilitate $126 million in illegal online pharmaceutical sales to U.S. customers.
Skurka was hired as the lead counsel and retained lawyers in the U.S. and Marie Henein in Toronto to assist with the defence. Jacobson is also suing Henein in a separate action. Her statement of defence refers to the allegations as “false, concocted, self-serving, and specious.” None of the allegations has been proven in court.
Jacobson has ties to senior Conservative politicians in Canada and intelligence officials in Israel. A photo taken in Ottawa in 2010 shows him standing between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Nearly two years before that photo was taken, Jacobson entered a guilty plea in the U.S. to a single count of money laundering. He forfeited $4.5 million, but remained free on bail pending sentencing. Last fall, after hiring new U.S. lawyers, Jacobson was permitted to strike his guilty plea and the charge was dropped, although the $4.5 million remained forfeited.
The decision issued by Perell this week is also critical of the content in the amended statement of claim filed by Jacobson in his action against Skurka. The Superior Court judge noted Jacobson professes his innocence of the allegations made by U.S. authorities in 26 paragraphs of his 68 paragraph amended statement of claim.
One subheading that states “complete vindication of Nathan Jacobson — an innocent man,” is an example of “the improper pleading of evidence and emotive grandstanding polemic that appears to have provoked Mr. Skurka to respond in kind,” Perell wrote.
The judge also suggested both sides have not complied with the Rules of Civil Procedure in the pleadings and fail to include “concise statements” of material fact.
Perell cited a paragraph that describes discussions between Skurka and Henein and when they would meet, as an example of unnecessary information in the pleading.
“With respect, nothing is added, not even interesting colour and narrative excitement or suspense, by knowing that Ms. Henein was out of the country and that Mr. Skurka arranged to meet with her upon her return to Canada. Mr. Skurka’s statement of defence is cluttered with this sort of useless information,” Perell stated.
The counterclaim by Skurka alleges that Jacobson is using the professional negligence action for an improper purpose.
“Allowing Mr. Skurka’s counterclaim would not discourage access to justice for plaintiffs suing their criminal defence lawyers, but it would discourage such plaintiffs from overreaching in their civil proceeding against their criminal lawyer and making their innocence in the criminal proceedings a material issue in the civil proceeding,” Perell wrote.
Update 12:55pm: Quotes added.
|Barry Glaspell says the big issue with national class actions is often how to implement them.|
Glaspell was speaking of Parsons v. Ontario, a decision released Friday that included two partial dissents from Justice Harry LaForme’s decision in the matter. The judges were ruling on former Ontario chief justice Warren Winkler’s decision in 2013 in which, sitting as a Superior Court judge, he held that the Ontario court’s “inherent jurisdiction to fully control its own process” permitted it to convene outside the province.
In this case, the proceedings were to take place in Edmonton to hear parallel motions arising under the pan-Canadian settlement agreement in the Hepatitis C case. Superior court judges from British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec are supervising the implementation and enforcement of the settlement.
Ontario’s attorney general raised a number of arguments in its appeal. It argued the Constitution, the common law, and legislation prevent judges from conducting hearings outside their home province. It also suggested the only way to get around the issue was by using a video link.
On the constitutional issue, the province argued the federal nature of Canada’s court system envisions parallel and distinct court systems operating within their respective jurisdictions; the question of whether judges can hold hearings outside Ontario is a matter for the legislature and not the courts; and conducting a hearing elsewhere infringes the sovereignty of the other province.
In deciding the issue, LaForme found each judge would conduct a separate hearing to decide the matter in question. He noted the idea of a single location was to enhance co-operation between the three judges who would nevertheless issue orders from their home provinces.
“In my view, such a process respects the distinct nature of the courts of each province while stimulating the cooperation required to effectively administer the Settlement Agreement,” wrote LaForme.
LaForme also found Ontario had effectively conceded that out-of-province hearings aren’t presumptively unconstitutional as it recognized that the legislature could authorize them by statute.
“If Ontario has the legislative authority to permit out-of-province hearings, there can be nothing presumptively unconstitutional about them,” he wrote.
LaForme also rejected the province’s argument about infringing Alberta’s sovereignty.
“In my view, the motion that was to have been heard in Alberta would not have infringed Alberta’s sovereignty. It is common ground that the supervisory judges had personal and subject matter jurisdiction in this case. The parallel motions were paper motions; no witnesses were to be called. The exercise of coercive powers was not contemplated. And the motions were to be heard in the context of a pan-Canadian Settlement Agreement approved by each and every jurisdiction in Canada, including Alberta. In these circumstances, I can see no infringement of Alberta’s sovereignty.”
Another key issue in the case was the open-court principle as the Ontario government argued it precludes an Ontario judge from conducting a hearing outside the province. On this issue, LaForme found the principle of open courts isn’t absolute as it doesn’t guarantee a right to be physically present in the courtroom. And, he noted, the Edmonton hearings would presumably have taken place in open court and the media would still have been able to report on them.
“The driving factor behind the proximity between open justice and freedom of expression would be preserved,” wrote LaForme.
Interestingly, the decision in this case was moot in light of legal developments in British Columbia. While the supervising judges in British Columbia and Quebec agreed with the Ontario decision to convene in another province, the B.C. Court of Appeal allowed that province’s appeal on the issue. In the end, the courts heard separate motions on the claims extension matter before them. They reached three conflicting decisions, according to LaForme. But the Ontario appeal court went ahead and decided the jurisdictional question as the parties argued the issue was likely to arise again.
Glaspell notes the B.C. appeal ruling is subject to a leave application at the Supreme Court of Canada.
But adding to the confusion is the fact there were two partial dissents from LaForme’s findings. Justice Russell Juriansz found Winkler had erred in finding a Superior Court judge in this case could sit outside Ontario without the necessity of a video link to a courtroom in Ontario.
“I would conclude that the Ontario supervising judge while physically located outside the province has the jurisdiction and discretion to conduct the motion remotely and concurrently with his or her judicial supervisory counterparts,” wrote Juriansz, who emphasized the necessity of ensuring the open-courts principle but found technological alternatives could accommodate the requirement that the Ontario public be able to attend the hearing in an Ontario courtroom.
Further partial dissent came from Justice Peter Lauwers, who agreed with LaForme in all respects except on the question of requiring a video link.
“In my view, s. 135 of the Courts of Justice Act requires a ‘video pipe’ between the room or rooms outside Ontario in which the hearing is held and a reasonably accessible Ontario courtroom,” wrote Lauwers.
“Only then can the hearing be said to be open to members of the Ontario public who wish to attend. Therefore, in my view, s. 135 is an express statutory limitation on the court’s inherent jurisdiction to hold a hearing outside Ontario.”
For Glaspell, having a video link is key. “I actually think a video link is needed,” he says, citing the concern for open courts.
Glaspell also notes that underlying the issue in such cases is the question of whether judges from different provinces can confer with each in the absence of counsel.
“The core issue is whether judges speak to each other before they make their ruling without counsel being present,” he says, noting it’s an issue counsel would seek instructions on from their clients.
Glaspell also says while the legal system has dealt with many national class actions, the difficulty, as this case shows, is often how to implement them.
“This case has been settled. This is a case where is should not have been a big deal, frankly, and what justice Winkler said made sense,” he says.
|Civil court survey, general civil cases by level of court and type of action (click for full view)|
The one area where there continues to be more volume though, is motor vehicle litigation with 20-per-cent more active cases than five years earlier.
The information is part of the annual Statistics Canada civil court survey, which was released today. The survey collects data on civil court events and cases at the superior, provincial and territorial court levels, for the fiscal years ending March 31. Appellate courts and federal courts are not included in the survey.
In 2013-14, there were 613,622 civil cases in the country (not including family law) which had at least one event take place in the courts over that period. The largest single type of action was motor vehicle, with 116,472 cases. That is up from just over 94,000 in the 2009-10 period.
The next highest category was contract-related litigation, not including collection or bankruptcy proceedings, with nearly 81,000 cases.
|Civil court survey, number of active family cases, by issue(s) identified over length of case and number of fiscal years since case initiation (click for full view)|
In the family law sphere, the trends in the Statistics Canada survey are similar. There were 313,000 active cases in 2013-14, almost unchanged from the previous year, although down nearly five per cent from the 2009-10 period.
There were also just over 41,000 of those active cases last year, which were initiated at least four years earlier. That number is also virtually unchanged in recent years.
|B.C. is still No. 10 in terms of per-capita spend on legal aid, says Alex Shorten.|
“This is 25 years with no new funding,” says Birgit Eder, a defence lawyer and co-chairperson of the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C.’s legal aid action committee.
The Canadian Bar Association-British Columbia chapter also expressed its concerns about the budget.
“This is a big part of the access-to-justice problem,” says Alex Shorten, a Vancouver lawyer and president of the CBA-BC. “There needs to be more money for legal services for the most vulnerable in the province.”
Even with a large surplus and an annual provincial budget of $46 billion, the CBA has been told by the government there is no new money for legal aid, because each department must balance its own budget, says Shorten.
The CBA has asked the province to inject another $10 million, over the next three years.
“This province is still No. 10, in terms of per-capita legal aid,” says Shorten.
The overall annual budget for the Legal Services Society, which administers legal aid in B.C., is expected to be $79 million this fiscal year. That total is projected to drop by about $1 million over the next three years. Two decades ago, the budget was $89 million. If the cost of living is included, funding for legal aid in the province has dropped by nearly 40 per cent since 1995.
Legal aid funding is primarily on a block tariff system and a lower level criminal charge that ends with a one-day trial, will result in a total payment of about $500 to defence counsel, says Eder.
For other matters, such as a full-day preliminary hearing, the tariff published by the LSS provides for payment of $600. A one-day trial to defend an indictable offence pays $800, according to the tariff.
Eligibility has also been reduced, resulting in a sharp increase in the number of unrepresented accused, notes Eder.
An individual seeking legal aid in B.C. must have a net income of less than $18,000 annually. For a family of four, the net household income must be below $36,000.
An increase of about $50 million to legal aid in B.C. would not only ensure representation in criminal and family courts, it could prove to be revenue neutral, suggests Eder.
“Unrepresented litigants slow down the court system tremendously,” she says.
Defence lawyers in B.C. are planning to continue protests over legal aid funding that began last year. The job action includes a refusal to schedule any matters other than urgent bail hearings, in the first week of every calendar month.
The protest began in Vancouver and Kamloops and is scheduled to expand next month to Abbotsford and Chilliwack, says Eder.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice pointed to five pilot projects, announced last year, at a cost of $6 million over three years, as part of the province’s legal aid efforts. The projects included the hiring of a full-time family law duty counsel in Victoria and expansion of a family law help line, which people can call from anywhere in B.C.
In terms of the rise in unrepresented litigants, the province has made more legal information available online, as has the LSS, the spokesperson explains.
It is also encouraging out-of-court resolutions in family law matters.
Update 4:30 pm: Corrected numbers regarding CBA-BC's requests for legal aid funding.
Update 5:30 pm: Comments from Ministry of Justice added.
|C. LouAnn Chiasson has been appointed to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court Family Division.|
Justice Michael Gibson, an Ottawa-based military judge, has also been appointed to the Superior Court to replace Justice John Murray, who resigned at the end of last year. Before his appointment as military judge in 2013, Gibson was a legal counsel with the Judge Advocate General in Ottawa. He was also a defence counsel, JAG directorate of defence counsel services in Hull, Que., and deputy judge advocate at the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ont.
The Feb. 6 announcement also included four appointments from the bar in Ontario.
Windsor, Ont., sole practitioner Kirk Munroe is replacing former Superior Court Justice Thea Herman, who resigned her post in Toronto in December 2013. Herman’s vacancy was transferred to Windsor. Munro, who practised criminal law since 1996, is the past-president of the Essex Law Association, the Windsor Criminal Lawyers’ Association, and the Florida Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers.
Also joining the bench from the bar in Ontario is former family lawyer Richard Bennett from Mississauga, Ont. He will replace Justice Sherrill Rogers, who became a supernumerary judge in November 2014.
Laura Fryer, also a family lawyer who practised with Fryer & Associates in Markham, Ont., now replaces Justice D. Roger Timms at the family court branch. Timms chose to become a supernumerary judge in November 2014.
James F. Diamond, formerly a lawyer at Levine Sherkin Boussidan Barristers in Toronto, is replacing Justice Wailan Low, who has been a supernumerary judge since April 2014.
In New Brunswick, Dalhousie, N.B., lawyer Larry Landry has been appointed a judge of the Court of Queens Bench to replace Justice Hugh McLellan of Saint John, N.B., who became a supernumerary judge in May 2013. Landry has practised civil litigation, municipal, criminal, family, and corporate law. He is a former chairman of the New Brunswick Review Board.
In Nova Scotia, Justice Elizabeth Van den Eynden, a former judge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, has been elevated to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal to fill the void left by Justice Jamie Saunders, who became a supernumerary judge at the end of last year.
The two other appointments in Nova Scotia come straight from the bar. C. LouAnn Chiasson was a lawyer with Weldom McInnis in Dartmouth, N.S. She now replaces Justice Deborah Gass at the family division of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. Gass became a supernumerary judge in January.
Jeffery Hunt, formerly a lawyer at Patterson Law in Truro, N.S., has been appointed to the trial division of the N.S. Supreme Court. That vacancy was created as a result of Van den Eynden’s appointed to the Court of Appeal. Hunt, who was called to the bar in 1992, practised civil litigation, insurance, and criminal law.
The Federal Court of Canada also gets one more judge. Justice Richard Bell, who was a judge of the Court of Appeal of New Brunswick, now moves to the Federal Court to replace Justice Dolores Hansen, who became a supernumerary judge in December 2014.
Bell was appointed to the Court of Appeal of New Brunswick in 2007. A year earlier, he had been appointed to the N.B. Court of Queen’s Bench.
There are two additions to the Tax Court of Canada.
Dominique Lafleur, a lawyer with KPMG in Montreal, now sits on the court in lieu of Justice Lucie Lamarre, who was appointed associate chief justice of the Tax Court. Lafleur, who joined KPMG in 2014, previously worked at Heenan Blaikie LLP in Montreal.
Sylvain Ouimet, a Department of Justice lawyer, joins the Tax Court to replace Justice Paul Bédard, who resigned in August 2014. Ouimet had been a taxation lawyer with the DOJ’s Ottawa and Montreal offices since 2002. Prior to that, he had been a completion law officer for Industry Canada in Gatineau, Que.
All of the appointments are effective immediately.
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