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Monday, April 29, 2013

LAW ASSOCIATION LOSES COSTS BID IN HUMAN RIGHTS CASE

The Peel Law Association has lost its bid to have its insurer cover legal costs it incurred while defending itself in a high-profile racial discrimination case.

In a ruling last week, Ontario Superior Court Justice Meredith Donohue found the association had waited too long to notify its insurer of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario claim against it.

“I find there was no notice given to the broker or the insurer of the claim within the policy period as required by the policy,” wrote Donohue in Peel Law Association v. Royal Insurance.

She added: “The insurer was given no choice in the appointment of counsel or the handling of the defence contrary to the policy. They are not liable therefore for those costs.”

The Peel Law Association is in the midst of a racial discrimination case after two black lawyers and an articling student claimed an administrator singled them out and asked them to show identification at the Brampton, Ont., courthouse in 2008. The association’s defence costs have exceeded $116,000, according to the ruling.

The insurer claimed it didn’t have to cover the association’s costs as its policy period had expired.

The tribunal had ordered $4,000 in damages against the Peel Law Association, a decision later squashed at the Divisional Court. The Ontario Court of Appeal heard the case in December.

FISH TO RETIRE FROM SCC

Supreme Court of Canada Justice Morris Fish will be leaving the court at the end of the summer.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin announced last week that Fish had written to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to advise that he’ll retire from the country’s top court at the end of the spring session. Fish’s retirement will be effective Aug. 31, 2013. Under the Judges Act, a retiring judge can continue to participate in judgments with respect to cases heard prior to leaving the court for a period of six months.

“Justice Fish has served on the court with wisdom and made enormous contributions to the court and to Canada,” McLachlin said in a statement last week.

“He is a wonderful colleague and friend who will be greatly missed.”

For his part, Fish said: “By the date of my planned retirement, I will have served my country as a justice of its highest courts for nearly a quarter century — including more than 10 years on the Supreme Court of Canada. I am grateful to have enjoyed this privilege and mindful of the honour and public trust that attach to the holding of judicial office in Canada.”

Ottawa lawyer and long-time Supreme Court agent Eugene Meehan commented on Fish’s record last week. “In Canada’s national court, he always stuck his juridical neck out for the little guy — Canada’s best defence judge has now ‘gone fishing.’”

Fish will reach the mandatory retirement age of 75 this fall while fellow Quebec Justice Louis LeBel must retire next year. The Supreme Court Act requires that three of the nine judges come from Quebec.

Fish joined the Supreme Court bench on Aug. 5, 2003, after serving more than 14 years as a judge of the Quebec Court of Appeal and a distinguished career as an educator and criminal lawyer in Montreal.

NORTON ROSE PROMOTIONS ANNOUNCED

Ahead of its official merger with Fulbright & Jaworski LLP this summer, the Norton Rose Group has promoted 33 partners globally. Eight of the promoted partners are in Canada, including Toronto intellectual property lawyer Anna Wilkinson and Karen Jensen, an employment and labour lawyer based in Ottawa.

“The partner promotions reflect the international strength and diversity of our practice, which will grow again significantly in June when we combine with Fulbright & Jaworski,” said Peter Martyr, global chief executive of Norton Rose.

In a news release, the firm said women make up a substantial percentage of this year’s promotions. The majority of the promotions were in corporate law followed by banking, litigation, and dispute resolution.

LAWYERS, PARALEGALS OFFERED FREE WORKSHOPS

Lawyers and paralegals can participate in two free continuing professional development sessions on how to present legal
information to the public.

The event, hosted by the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Ontario Justice Education Network, and Community Legal Education Ontario, will give lawyers and paralegals “the opportunity to participate in a facilitated discussion about common public and legal education issues,” the law society said in a press release.

The events will take place at the law society on May 7. Participants must register by May 3 via e-mail at equityevents@lsuc.on.ca or by calling 416-947-3413.

POLL RESULTS
The results for the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, more than half of participants believe Ontario’s labour arbitration system favours workers and agree with calls to reform the system to include a consideration of employers’ ability to pay for increased wages.

About 56 per cent of respondents said it’s time for change while the rest said the province’s system is fair and any reform would benefit employers.

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Law Times poll

An estate trustee who took an ‘egregious' position in litigation has been ordered to personally pay more than $140,000 in costs. Will this ruling serve as an appropriate caution to executors on how they conduct themselves in litigation?
Yes, this will remind trustees of the potential exposure of significant awards being made against them personally.
No, it’s unlikely this ruling will dissuade executors from engaging in unreasonable conduct during litigation.