The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Yves Faguy

CBA Futures

Legal futures round-up

By Yves Faguy May 16, 2018 16 May 2018

Legal futures round-up

 

Time for a round-up of notable trends and developments that highlight innovation in the legal industry.

Rosenblatt Solicitors announced plans to go public, and is hoping to raise £43m on its IPO, which would make it the largest of its kind. It would be the fourth English law firm to do so since the liberalization of the market for legal services in England and Wales five years ago. The other three are Gately, Keystone and Gordon Dadds.  

Allen & Overy (A&O) is bringing in a second cohort of startups into its tech space Fuse, which launched in London last year. The new cohort, includes Canadian based AI document review platform Kira Systems. According to Fuse chairman Jonathan Brayne: “This cohort’s focus is very different to that of the first – there’s a strong AI theme here.”

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Religious freedoms

Canada’s “institutional turn” in religious freedom litigation

By Yves Faguy May 14, 2018 14 May 2018

Canada’s “institutional turn” in religious freedom litigation

 

Kathryn Chan writes in an article published in the Canadian Bar Review that the “institutional turn” in religious freedom litigation we have seen in Europe and the United States is now apparent in Canada.

The Supreme Court of Canada is scheduled to render judgment in three religious freedom cases in the fall, in Wall v Highwood Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and two Trinity Western University appeals. But until now, the top court’s approach to institutional religious freedom claims, “is deeply ambiguous,” Chan explains:

The big unanswered question is the “constitutional personhood” question: are corporations included in the “everyone” that is entitled to the protections of freedom of conscience and religion under section 2(a) of the Charter? In Loyola High School, the majority of the Court declined to decide whether corporations “enjoy religious freedom in their own right under ... the Charter”, “since the Minister was bound ... to exercise her discretion in a way that respect[ed] ... [the] religious freedom of the members of the Loyola community who [wished to offer or] receive a Catholic education.” However, the remaining three justices declared their willingness to recognize the religious freedom of a “non-profit religious corporation”, constituted for the purpose of offering a Jesuit education to Catholic children in Quebec. The minority justices also proposed a general test for an institutional religious freedom claim, stating “that an organization [should meet] the requirements for s. 2(a) protection if (1) it is constituted primarily for religious purposes, and (2) its operation accords with these religious purposes.”

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Avenirs en droit

Il faut encadrer la sous-traitance de services juridiques au Canada

By Yves Faguy May 14, 2018 14 May 2018

Il faut encadrer la sous-traitance de services juridiques au Canada

 

Dans un article récent publié dans la Revue du Barreau canadien, Rebecca Porter et Alain Roussy soulèvent les préoccupations déontologiques liées à la sous-traitance des services juridiques, une pratique de plus en plus commune de nos jours.  Elles ont trait notamment à  des questions touchant à la pratique illégale du droit; la transparence vis-à-vis les clients; la compétence et la qualité des services rendus par des partenaires; la confidentialité et le secret professionnel; les conflits d’intérêts; la facturation; et l’assurance de responsabilité professionnelle.

Sans nier les bénéfices que peut apporter la sous-traitance, les auteurs notent néanmoins que les différents barreaux au Canada ont encore à se prononcer sur cette pratique et ne font que l’encadrer de façon générale dans leurs codes de déontologie respectifs.

En suivant l’exemple des États-Unis et du Royaume-Uni, nous sommes d’avis que la Fédération et les barreaux canadiens devraient encadrer la pratique de STSJ au Canada. En tant que chef de file dans le développement des normes applicables à la profession juridique, la Fédération a le pouvoir, par la modification de son Code type, d’inciter les barreaux canadiens à répondre aux préoccupations éthiques liées à la STSJ dans leur propre code de déontologie. Par ailleurs, la Fédération reconnaît l’importance d’encadrer les innovations dans la prestation des services juridiques. En effet, la préface du Code type reconnaît que « les progrès technologiques [...] et les facteurs économiques liés à l’exercice du droit présenteront sans cesse des défis pour les juristes » et que « l’encadrement que les ordres professionnels donnent aux juristes en matière d’éthique devrait tenir compte de cette évolution ». Nous sommes d’avis que la STSJ fait partie intégrante de l’évolution techno-économique de l’industrie juridique canadienne et qu’elle devrait ainsi être encadrée par la Fédération.

Ils font appel aussi à l’ABC de donner suite à son projet Avenirs en droit, en entreprenant des démarches pour étudier davantage la pratique de la sous-traitance et encourager les barreaux canadiens à se pencher sur ces questions.

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Equal rights

SCC strikes down part of Quebec’s pay equity law

By Yves Faguy May 10, 2018 10 May 2018

SCC strikes down part of Quebec’s pay equity law

 

The Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed, in a pair of section 15 Charter  decisions, the unconstitutionality of provisions of Quebec’s Pay Equity Act, which was initially passed in 1997 to address systemic wage discrimination against women.

The challenge came from unions representing employees who work in predominantly female job classes. They were arguing that the amendments adopted in 2009 had in effect substantially reduced the rights and benefits of employees.  These amendments imposed pay equity audits every five years, which critics charged was insufficient and served only to allow inequities go uncorrected for too long in the interval between audits.  The province was arguing that denying compensation between audits was a more realistic approach to ensuring compliance by companies. The top court disagreed  (with Justices Côté, Brown and Rowe dissenting):

Although the scheme purports to address systemic discrimination, it in fact codifies the denial to women of benefits routinely enjoyed by men — namely, compensation tied to the value of their work. Men receive this compensation as a matter of course; women, under this scheme, are expected to endure five-year periods of pay inequity, and to receive equal compensation only where their employer voluntarily acts in a non-discriminatory manner, or where they can meet the heavy burden of proving the employer engaged in deliberate or improper conduct. The scheme thus places barriers along the path to equal pay for women. And it correspondingly tolerates undervaluation of women’s work whenever women cannot clear the specific hurdle of proving that they should be paid equally not merely because they are equal, but because their employer acted improperly. Absent such behaviour, working women are told that they must simply live with the reality that they have not been paid fairly, even where a statutorily mandated audit has made that fact clear. In this way, the scheme, by privileging employers, reinforces one of the key drivers of pay inequity: the power imbalance between employers and female workers. By tolerating employer decision-making that results in unfair pay for women, the legislature sends a message condoning that very power imbalance, further perpetuating disadvantage.

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Privacy

How GDPR is giving legal cover to Facebook

By Yves Faguy May 9, 2018 9 May 2018

How GDPR is giving legal cover to Facebook

 

Two weeks before the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect, Reuters is reporting that most national regulators aren’t ready to enforce the new law, citing lack of funding and resources and data protection laws needing to be updated in their own national jurisdictions:

Their responses suggest the GDPR enforcement regime will be weaker than the bloc's anti-trust authority run directly by the European Commission, the EU executive, which hit Google here with a 2.4-billion-euro ($2.9 billion) fine last year.

That hasn’t stopped Facebook from getting ahead of the rollout with new privacy options, which critics say rely on subterfuge to encourage users to share more personal information, not less.  Kalev Leetaru notes that the internet giant is giving users the opportunity to turn on face recognition in Europe and Canada, which have stricter privacy controls than in the U.S. But it the process is designed to encourage users to lazily click 'Accept and Continue' to switch it on. Which begs the question whether the GDPR is really going to carry out the objective of giving people more control over their personal information:

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