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Monday, June 22, 2009

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OCAA PRESIDENT DEFENDS CROWNS[/span]

Ontario Crown Attorneys’ Association president Thomas Hewitt issued a statement last week defending Crown attorneys in the midst of media scrutiny over jury-vetting policies.

Hewitt’s comments follow revelations that prosecutors in Barrie, Windsor, and Thunder Bay have been erroneously gathering information - such as pardons, young-offender convictions, and chargers without convictions - on potential jurors through police.

“On a daily basis, Ontario’s Crowns are routinely engaged in work that is highly important, often complex, and frequently very stressful,” said Hewitt. “Very considerable demands are placed upon Crown attorneys, who conduct their work in the public eye and while subject to a degree of scrutiny that is unsurpassed by any other professional body of men and women. As public servants such scrutiny is, of course, to be welcomed.

At the same time, I would like to believe that there is an understanding and appreciation of the valuable and difficult work performed by Crowns.”

Hewitt went on to urge the public to await the outcome of inquiries into the allegations.

“My sole purpose in issuing this statement is to strike a note of balance amidst the current highly-charged and one-sided atmosphere,” he said. “I would simply like to remind Ontarians that the Crown attorneys in this province consistently strive to serve the public to the highest standards they can.

Far from being purveyors of injustice, my colleagues routinely work to ensure that justice for all is achieved in each case they handle. Ontario''s Crowns do not seek to meddle with the scales of justice. On the contrary, no one is more active than they are in working to preserve that delicate balance.”

MAJOR ALBERTA INSURANCE DECISION

Next stop, the Supreme Court of Canada. That’s the consensus on the future of Alberta’s $4,000 cap on non-pecuniary damages for minor auto accident injuries, after a recent Court of Appeal decision upholding the policy.

The Minor Injury Regulation part of Alberta’s motor vehicle insurance regime was introduced in 2003 through a series of moves aimed at regulating insurance rates and increasing medical and rehab services for accident victims.

A trial judge at Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench ruled that the MIR interfered with equality rights provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by discriminating against minor injury claimants. The appeal court disagreed.

The Court of Appeal decided that the trial judge took the wrong approach to the Charter analysis. It said the judge should have assessed the legislative scheme in its entirety.

Similar caps have been rolled out in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. They also face court challenges.

COURT BACKS CLASS SETTLEMENT

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has certified and approved a settlement in a class action brought against payday lender Cash Money Cheque Cashing Inc. The deal could see customers receive as much as $5.7 million in vouchers for Cash Money services.

Cash Money has made the settlement without admitting liability.

“The main allegation in the lawsuit is that Cash Money charges a criminal rate of interest on its payday loans in violation of section 347 of the Criminal Code of Canada,” read a posting on the web site of Paliare Roland Rosenberg Rothstein LLP, which prosecuted the class action with Koskie Minsky LLP.

The posting stated that, “Cash Money has charged and continues to charge a fee of $20 per $100 borrowed, and the claim alleges that the $20 fee constitutes a criminal rate of interest.”

Cash Money payday loan customers up to June 15 will be entitled to a $50 voucher.

RUMBALL JOINS OGILVY RENAULT

Ogilvy Renault LLP’s business law group has added some new blood with the addition of James Rumball.

The securitization and structured finance transaction specialist has over 12 years of experience in the field.

He also has been part of some of Canada’s most “complex and innovative transactions,” said the firm in a release. Rumball will practise from the firm’s Toronto office.

GENEREUX TO HEENAN BLAIKIE

Heenan Blaikie LLP has introduced information technology expert Michel Généreux as the latest member of its Montreal business law group.

“I am looking forward to joining Heenan Blaikie, a team known for its lively spirit of entrepreneurship,” said Généreux, in a release. “The new setting within which I will be practising is exceptionally stimulating. But the truth is that my clients are the ones who will benefit most from my move to a new law firm.”

Généreux is a member of the Quebec and Massachusetts bars, and works for clients north and south of the border. He has experience with outsourcing, licence, systems integration, and computer services agreements.

His practice also includes government procurement, franchising, and strategic alliances, along with the technological and commercial aspects related to mergers and acquisitions and other major transactions.

“For the longest time, we knew that Michel would blend in magnificently with our business law team,” said Guy Tremblay, Heenan Blaikie’s national co-managing partner. “The chemistry between this dynamic lawyer and the rest of our firm will help us remain at the forefront of the international business world.”

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