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Monday, December 15, 2008

AUDITOR TARGETS COURT SERVICES

Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General needs to put a stop to the increasing backlog in the province’s courts, Auditor General Jim McCarter reported last week.

“Despite increasing funding and initiatives by the Ministry of the Attorney General, the backlog in Ontario courts continues to grow and now stands at its highest level in 15 years, with some 106,000 criminal charges pending for more than eight months,” read a release from the auditor general.

McCarter said, “In a number of our value-for-money audits, we concluded there was insufficient oversight to ensure that Ontarians were getting the public services they need and value for their tax dollars.”

Some of the auditor general’s “more significant” findings include:

• In the past five years, criminal charges pending in the Ontario Court of Justice grew 17 per cent to over 275,000;

• for the Ontario Court of Justice’s judicial complement to compare to other provinces, “significantly more judges and justices of the peace” would have to be hired. New court facilities and staff also need to be added;

• the ministry doesn’t have enough information on why, in the past decade, the number of court appearances before a case goes to trial is up over 40 per cent;

• the ministry hasn’t adequately used technology to improve court efficiency; and

• the ministry hasn’t identified why it costs up to 43 per cent more to dispose of a case in the Toronto region versus other areas of the province.

The auditor general’s full report is available online at www.auditor.on.ca.

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ARBITRATORS PARTNER WITH LONDON CHAMBER[/span]

Lawyers Earl Cherniak and John McDougall have struck a partnership for their international commercial arbitration practice with a commercial barristers’ chamber in London, England.

“We are delighted that two such well- respected arbitrators are coming to join the existing group of international arbitrators practising from chambers,” said Christopher Symons of 3 Verulam Buildings, the chamber the lawyers have partnered with, in a release.

“Having potential arbitrators from different jurisdictions gives parties a wider range of choice for the resolution of their disputes. Their addition will enhance the reputation of chambers, and we are looking forward to seeing more of them in London.”

3 Verulam Buildings offers litigation and advisory services in commercial law, with an emphasis on banking, insurance, insolvency, financial services, professional negligence, civil fraud, entertainment and media, IT and telecoms, and other commercial law.

Cherniak, of Lerners LLP, and McDougall, of Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP, will continue their North American practices with their respective firms here.

Cherniak, a trial and appellate counsel, is a member of the London Court of International Arbitration, the Canadian roster of arbitrators of the International Chamber of Commerce, and the ADR Institute of Canada, along with various other groups.

McDougall, a civil litigator, is a member of the panel of International Centre for Dispute Resolution, is immediate past chairman of the Canadian national arbitration committee of the International Chamber of Commerce, and is a Canadian representative to the International Chamber of Commerce Commission on Arbitration in Paris, as well as other organizations.

BOROVOY TO BE HONOURED

Planning is already underway for a giant send-off for civil liberties lawyer Alan Borovoy, who is retiring after 40 years as general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

“No other individual has contributed more to ensuring that the civil liberties that we all hold so dear in this country - and often take for granted - remain a world standard for our way of life,” said Edward Greenspan, who will act as master of ceremonies for a gala dinner in honour of Borovoy, in a release.

“He has given so much to this country that we wanted to honour his important achievements and to see him off in style.”

The event is set to take place April 28 at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. The lineup of speakers includes Supreme Court of Canada Justice Ian Binnie, former York University president Harry Arthurs, and others.

Information regarding sponsorship and reservations is available by getting in touch with Caitlin Smith at csmith@ccla.org, or 416-363-0321. Proceeds from the event will go to the Canadian Civil Liberties Education Trust.

Borovoy joined CCLA in 1968 and previously worked with the national committee for human rights of the Canadian Labour Congress, Ontario Labour Committee for Human Rights, and the Toronto and District Labour Committee for Human Rights.

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