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Monday, April 30, 2012

LAO SEEKING FEEDBACK ON DISCRETION REQUESTS

Legal Aid Ontario is launching consultations this week on discretion requests for additional compensation above the regular hourly tariff.

From May 1-25, LAO will seek feedback from criminal, family, and refugee lawyers on the process for discretion requests. They apply in exceptional circumstances involving vulnerable clients or complex cases.

The goal, LAO noted, is to make the process clearer for lawyers and, ultimately, streamline the system.

LAO received about 15,000 requests for discretion a year. Just under 10 per cent of certificates involve discretion payments.

LAO will provide dates and locations for the consultations on its web site at legalaid.on.ca this week.

VICTIM SURCHARGE TO BECOME MANDATORY

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson plans to change the Criminal Code in order to make victim surcharges mandatory for all offenders.

“Our government is delivering on our promise to double the victim surcharge and make it mandatory in every case, without exception,” said Nicholson.

“This legislation will ensure that victim support services receive the funding that they require and deserve.”

Nicholson made the announcement April 24. If passed, the act would double the victim surcharge that offenders must pay and automatically apply it in all cases.

Under the proposed act, victim surcharges would amount to 30 per cent of any fine imposed or $100 for summary convictions without a fine. It would also impose a $200 surcharge for conviction on an indictable offence without a fine.

Currently, offenders who can prove undue hardship may request a waiver of the victim surcharge under the Criminal Code. The changes would eliminate that option.

“Canadians deserve a justice system that sentences offenders in a way that reflects the severity of their crime and respects victims of crime,” said Sen. Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu.

“By doubling the victim surcharge and ensuring that it cannot be waived, our government is sending a signal that offenders must pay for the harm they cause to victims.”

FMC LAUDED FOR GREEN EFFORTS

The Canada’s Top 100 Employers project of Mediacorp Canada Inc. has named Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP one of the country’s greenest employers for 2012.

“It is a great honour to be recognized as one of Canada’s greenest employers,” said John Rider, FMC’s chief client officer. “We are very proud of everyone at our firm who is involved in our environmental initiatives.”

FMC was the only law firm in Ontario to receive the honour this year. The project recognized the firm for its environmental efforts, success in reducing its environmental footprint, and employee involvement.

“In addition to FMC’s corporate environmental policies, our green committee has worked to establish grassroots initiatives that contribute to the sustainability of the firm’s offices across Canada,”

said Karen Tuschak, FMC’s director of professional development and practice support and a member of the Toronto green committee.

“The committee meets frequently to determine priorities in sustainability and works to educate and motivate all firm members to move toward green practices.”

HRTO RULING ON TRANSGENDR RIGHTS

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has found legislation requiring people to have surgery before they can change the sex designation on their birth

registration to be discriminatory.

Writing in XY v. Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, HRTO vice chairwoman Sheri Price found the requirement reinforces the stereotype that transgendered persons must have surgery in order to live in their felt gender and adds to the disadvantage and stigma they feel.

“Transgender people’s rights are human rights,” said Barbara Hall, chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, which intervened in the case. “This decision is a welcome step forward in recognizing and promoting the dignity and equality of trans people.”

Price’s order gives the government 180 days to revise the criteria for changing the sex designation on a birth registration.

“My client and I are delighted at the careful consideration the tribunal gave to both the lived reality of transpeople’s lives and the legal arguments with respect to the Vital Statistics Act’s discriminatory impact on that community,” said Susan Ursel, counsel for XY.

“We need to do so much more to build our understanding of this community’s issues and how we can better respond to their legitimate call for self-actualization without oppressive treatment by others. This decision is an important step along that journey to

understanding.”

MILLER THOMSON SIGNS DEAL WITH FRENCH FIRM

Miller Thomson LLP has signed an affiliation agreement with French business law firm FIDAL in a bid to secure a stronger foothold in Europe.  

“This affiliation agreement is the latest in a series of strategic steps designed to extend and deepen Miller Thomson’s offering and reach,” said Gerald Courage, chairman of Miller Thomson.

“France is a major investor in Canada and our relationship with FIDAL gives us a substantial foothold in Europe.”

“This alliance reflects our firm’s desire to support the global activities of our clients by providing access to the legal expertise of top-flight multidisciplinary and independent local firms,” said Jean Gousset, chairman of FIDAL’s executive board.

“Miller Thomson and FIDAL share the same values and high standard of service quality, making our affiliation a natural development.”

For more, see "Victim surcharges needed change."

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