The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association
Investor-State disputes

A more perfect international investor court?

By Yves Faguy July 9, 2018 9 July 2018

A more perfect international investor court?

Over the past few years, the European Commission (EC) has been pushing to replace the traditional arbitration framework for investor-state disputes (ISDS) with a new investment court system – or ICS –run by independent judges, bound by strict conflict-of-interest rules, and operating more transparently.  It’s precisely what Canada and the EU agreed to when they concluded their free trade agreement, CETA. The  push is part of an effort to respond to criticism that the traditional ISDS model of using arbitral tribunals to solve disputes is overly favourable to foreign investors at the expense of states’ interests.  What’s more ISDS allows investors to challenge domestic regulations and policies before private arbitration courts that are mostly out of reach of regular litigants. CETA’s investment court system also provides for an appellate body to review decisions. The hope here is that this will help produce more consistency in treaty interpretation.

On these points, in an article to be published in The University of Western Australia Law Review, Kyle Dickson-Smith looks at how investor-state dispute claims in developed countries encroach on the work of domestic courts which, in turn, judge the appropriateness of the arbitral tribunal’s findings:

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Criminal law

Can Canada kill its own citizens in combat?

By Justin Ling July 6, 2018 6 July 2018

Can Canada kill its own citizens in combat?

 

That question has been thrust into the Canadian legal world in recent months, after Global News reported that, not only has Ottawa determined that it can legally kill fighters who fled Canada to fight for foreign terror groups, it likely already has.

In May, Global published a report detailing how the Canadian military had targeted three Canadian citizens in Syria and Iraq. Earlier in June, they released details on the discussions that occurred between senior officials on the legality and possibility of launching airstrikes that could kill Canadian citizens.

The discussion is the first time the issue has escaped from the academic legal world into actuality. While other countries, like the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Israel have all grappled with the legality and morality of killing its citizens on the battlefield, Canada has mostly sidestepped the issue.

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Litigation

Dismissal for delay in arbitration: Searching for the right test

By Alexandre Kaufman and Alexander Gay July 6, 2018 6 July 2018

Dismissal for delay in arbitration: Searching for the right test

 

Some delays in arbitration are unavoidable. Others are the fault of the parties. Worse yet, the plaintiff is sometimes the one responsible. 

When can an arbitral tribunal dismiss for delay? The power to do so in Canada is statutory and does not derive from any inherent power of an arbitral tribunal to control its own process. Under Ontario’s Arbitration Act, 1991 it can dismiss a proceeding where there is delay by the party who has commenced the arbitration (s. 27(4)).  But the word “delay” is not defined. The Act is also silent on the factors that an arbitral tribunal should consider when exercising its discretion. And there is no jurisprudence in Canada on the subject either. 

Still, when the Act is considered as a whole, there are limits to the exercise of discretion by an arbitral tribunal. Specifically, it provides that a tribunal can set aside an award on the ground that the applicant was not treated equally or fairly or had no opportunity to present or respond to the case (s. 46(1) 6). 

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CBA Futures

Legal futures round-up

By Yves Faguy July 4, 2018 4 July 2018

Legal futures round-up

 

Summer heat be damned. Time for a quick round-up of notable trends and developments and views that highlight innovation in the legal industry.

Out of Quebec is news that the CyberJustice Laboratory at Université de Montréal is embarking on a major international research project, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, on AI and justice. Over the next six years, 45 researchers will study how AI can help improve access to justice. Leading the project is Professor Karim Benyekhlef, the director of the Laboratory. “At first, I think AI is going to be used for low-intensity disputes,” says Benyekhlef. “It’s useful for users of the justice system who want to get an idea of whether they have a case that’s worth pursuing or not.”

Speaking of which, Thomson Reuters does a deep dive into the alternative legal service providers market. Three spoiler takeaways: The decision by law firms to use an ALSP is no longer just about cost; they want specialized expertise.  They’re coming around to viewing ALSPs as collaborators of sorts, not just the competition. And AI will continue to fuel the trend.

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Money matters

Common cents: A young lawyer’s financial Top 5

By Julie Sobowale July 3, 2018 3 July 2018

Common cents: A young lawyer’s financial Top 5

 

You worked your butt off making the grade in law school, then articling, then passing the Bar exam. But you found a job and you’re making good money and it’s time to enjoy it, right?

Except … there’s student loans and buying a new wardrobe, and you’ve been talking about buying a house…

“You’re making a big salary, probably the most money you’ve ever made, but you have big debt,” says Jessica Moorhouse, a certified finance counsellor specializing in working with millennials. “Young lawyers can end up spending so much to live this lifestyle and it becomes really tough to pay debt. Then you get a house and it becomes more expensive to live.”

Landing your first job as a lawyer can give you the ground you need to start of a good financial future. But you studied law, not personal finance. So what’s a young lawyer to do? The best advice is usually common sense – things we all know, but need to be reminded of every so often. Here are some common-sense tips for putting your financial house in order.

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Canada Summer Jobs

Concrete challenge: Another fight over the Canada Summer Jobs attestation

By Beverley Baines June 29, 2018 29 June 2018

Concrete challenge: Another fight  over the Canada Summer Jobs attestation

 

The constitutionality of the Canada Summer Jobs attestation requirement returns to the Federal Court in Sarnia Concrete Products Ltd’s application for judicial review after Service Canada denied it a grant to fund one student job. That was because the corporation refused to make the attestation that it respects the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, as well as other rights, including “reproductive rights, and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.”

Instead, Sarnia Concrete attached a letter claiming the attestation requirement violated its Charter rights to the freedoms of conscience, opinion, belief, thought and expression. The contention is almost identical to the one made unsuccessfully in January when the Right to Life Association of Toronto applied for an interlocutory injunction to stay the addition of the new attestation requirement. The only difference is the Association also claimed equality rights.

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CBA influence

Taking leave: Federal and provincial parental leave allowances may differ

By Kim Covert June 28, 2018 28 June 2018

 

The storybook version of new parenthood is a glorious nesting time in a tidy house with a baby who sleeps long enough for you to sleep and (if you want a longer bonding period) a choice to stretch Employment Insurance payments for 61 weeks.

The reality can be much different: a long delivery, recovery not improved by lack of sleep – and who needs to shower more than once a month anyway? And then finding out that while the federal government may let you choose up to 61 weeks of parental benefits, your province or territory has no corresponding right to parental leave for that long, meaning you’re going to get a lot less money than you expected, over a shorter period of time.

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Legal education

Why international law should be part of every law grad’s education

By Erika Schneidereit June 28, 2018 28 June 2018

Why international law should be part of every law grad’s education

 

The curriculum of law schools across the country is designed with this question in mind. While some fundamental courses (contracts, criminal law, and torts) are perennial staples of Canadian legal curricula, subjects like international law are notably absent from the program requirements. But are new law graduates at a disadvantage without a faculty-mandated understanding of international law? Or should Canadian law schools focus on equipping their students with more “traditional” tools of the trade?

Few law schools in Canada deem international law worthy of “required course” status. Of the 19 Canadian law schools offering common law programs, only four (the University of British Columbia, University of Toronto, University of Windsor, and Université de Montréal) require students to receive some form of international legal education.

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CBA influence

C-58 Update: The government should reconsider its position on solicitor-client privilege

By Kim Covert June 27, 2018 27 June 2018

 

The legal profession will have to step up the pressure to protect solicitor-client privilege, based on the latest communication from the federal Justice Minister.

Seven months after meeting with a delegation that included officials from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the CBA, and six months after receiving a submission from the Privacy and Access Law Section on Bill C-58, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has written to President Kerry Simmons, Q.C., to politely disagree with the CBA’s position on solicitor-client privilege.

Clauses 15 and 50 in the proposed amendments to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act would give Information and Privacy Commissioners unfettered access to records that are withheld by the head of a government institution on the basis that they are protected by solicitor-client privilege, professional secrecy or litigation privilege.

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Employment

Legal marijuana and the challenges of workplace drug testing

By Doug Beazley June 26, 2018 26 June 2018

Legal marijuana and the challenges of workplace drug testing

 

As the federal Liberals will no doubt remind you over the coming year, they made history this spring. The Senate (after a lot of grumbling, and the rejection by the government of a stack of amendments) passed C-45, the bill creating a legal market for recreational marijuana.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called it a promise kept. His opponents called it a catastrophe in the making. The Liberals were sending out fundraising emails on the topic within a day of the bill’s passage.

Mission accomplished? Not by a long shot. Provinces still have to define rules for transport and sale. Municipalities need to settle questions about zoning. There could be a court battle between Ottawa and provinces that wish to restrict or ban home cultivation.

But the biggest gap in the legal framework surrounding recreational cannabis has to do with the workplace. 

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CBA influence

Playing our cards right: Improving the PR experience

By Kim Covert June 26, 2018 26 June 2018

 

In a perfect world, an immigrant gets permanent resident status, receives the appropriate paperwork in a timely manner, and a new life in the new country – travel, school, employment – goes on as normal.

And about 80 per cent of the time in Canada this is the case – applications for new permanent resident cards are processed in about two months, and renewals take about four months. But the other 20 per cent of the time, the CBA’s Immigration Law Section says, all bets are off – lawyers have had cases where it’s taken as much as 12 months to get a PR card, presenting difficulties “ranging from inconvenience to emotional and financial hardship for the applicant, their family members and their employers.”

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The Supreme Court

On TWU, the SCC made the right decision for LGBTQ+ rights

By Jennifer Taylor June 22, 2018 22 June 2018

On TWU, the SCC made the right decision for LGBTQ+ rights

 

The Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in favour of LGBTQ+ rights in last week’s pair of Trinity Western decisions is welcome news, even if the split reasons are somewhat untidy. In Law Society of British Columbia v Trinity Western University and Trinity Western University v Law Society of Upper Canada the majority found it was reasonable for the two law societies to deny accreditation to TWU’s proposed law school because students there are required to agree to a Community Covenant, which effectively prohibits sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage.

Here are five takeaways from the rulings (focusing on the BC reasons).

1. Law societies have an essential gatekeeper role in ensuring equitable access to the legal profession

Law schools are “the first point of entry to the legal profession” (see Justice Malcolm Rowe’s concurring reasons). For this reason, law societies can insist on equitable access to law schools as the training ground for the lawyers that they will eventually regulate. This is part of a law society’s statutory mandate to uphold the public interest in the administration of justice.

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