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Monday, June 3, 2013

NEW AWARD HONOURS GOWLINGS PARTNER

The Ontario Centres of Excellence will establish an award in honour of Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP partner David McFadden.

McFadden once served as chairman of the centres and has made significant contributions to Ontario’s energy sector. The award, the David McFadden Energy Entrepreneur Challenge, will invite university and college students to come up with ways to address the energy challenges facing the province.

“I’m humbled that the OCE has named this award after me,” said McFadden.

“In its purest form, energy is an enabler that allows societies to achieve great things. By encouraging young entrepreneurs to tackle an energy problem and develop commercially viable, environmentally responsible solutions, we hope to improve both society and the economy on a global scale.”

McFadden played a significant role in the creation of the innovation think-tank and was involved in several provincial energy-related efforts. He currently serves as a board member of the Energy Council of Canada.

At Gowlings, McFadden served as the firm’s energy group leader for more than 10 years.

“Under David’s leadership, the Gowlings energy group built a strong reputation for applying a sophisticated understanding of the industry’s challenges to the development of forward-thinking solutions for our clients,” said Scott Jolliffe, Gowlings’ chairman and chief executive officer. “We’re delighted to see his achievements and innovative spirit represented through this annual award.”

The recipients of the new award will receive $25,000 and help to advance their proposal.

CONTEMPT FINDING IN NOTABLE LIBEL CASE

A Superior Court judge has found shareholder rights activist Robert Verdun in contempt of court for flouting a court injunction barring him from making comments about businessman Robert Astley.

In June 2011, a judge ordered Verdun not to speak in any way about Astley after finding him guilty of defamation. Astley received a landmark $400,000 in aggravated damages. Verdun, a former newspaper publisher, “seems to have something of an obsession with Mr. Astley,” wrote Superior Court Justice Robert Goldstein in the contempt ruling.

Following Astley’s appointment to the board of directors at the Bank of Montreal in 2004, Verdun began criticizing him as a “stain on this board” without any “integrity or ethics.” Verdun was a policyholder of Mutual Life of Canada when Astley, then president and chief executive officer of the company, undertook a process of demutualization, Goldstein noted. Verdun opposed the demutualization and “made several personal attacks against Astley.”

After the 2011 court order, Verdun contacted Kitchener Centre MP Stephen Woodworth to raise concerns about Astley, according to the May 7 contempt decision.

“Mr. Verdun admits that he contacted Mr. Woodworth. He says it is an act of conscience,” wrote Goldstein.

“Mr. Verdun is wrong,” the judge continued.

“His contact with Mr. Woodworth was not an act of conscience. It was a violation of Madam [Justice Sandra] Chapnik’s order and for the reasons that follow I find him guilty of contempt of court.”

Verdun “undoubtedly” plans to continue his defamation of Astley’s character, Goldstein said, adding there was no excuse or justification for his breach of a court order.

For more, see "Landmark ruling in libel suit."

ONT. COURT TO PRESIDE IN CASSELS BROCK LAWSUIT

The Ontario Superior Court has jurisdiction to preside over a lawsuit launched by Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP against dozens of lawyers across the country, according to a recent decision.

The lawyers are defendants in an unusual counterclaim launched by Cassels Brock last year after General Motors of Canada Ltd. dealers complained the law firm didn’t represent them appropriately when they signed wind-down agreements amidst the recent financial crisis.

The dealers said the wind-down agreement breached a provincial franchise law and that Cassels Brock should have provided them with appropriate advice. The law firm says the individual dealers never retained it, but if they did, it would mean other lawyers across the country who provided advice were also liable.

Cassels Brock included some 150 lawyers in the lawsuit, including 32 in Quebec as well as 51 in other provinces outside Ontario. In turn, the out-of-province lawyers brought a motion claiming Ontario lacks jurisdiction over the matter on the basis of forum non conveniens.

In a decision dated May 24, SuperiorCourt Justice Edward Belobaba said it’s fair to expect the out-of-province lawyers to attend litigation in Ontario.

The lawyers had reviewed the wind-down agreements “and knew that it was governed by Ontario law and that all disputes would have to be litigated in Ontario,” wrote Belobaba.

“Two, the third-party claim is all about the provision and adequacy of the local lawyer’s legal advice, a topic that was explicitly addressed within the scope of the lawyer/dealer/GMCL relationship by the terms of both the WDA and the ILA certificate,” he added.

“Given this backdrop, if it turned out, as it did, that the terminated dealers banded together and commenced a class action in Ontario against [Cassels Brock] for failing to provide the legal advice that arguably should have been provided by the local lawyers in the context of the ILA certificate, it should not surprise the local lawyers ifthey were added as third parties to the Ontario class action that was brought by their clients. Indeed it would be crazy for [Cassels Brock] not to do so.”

For more, see "Cassels Brock's counterclaim raises eyebrows."

POLL RESULTS

The results for the latest Law Times online polls are in.

According to the poll, almost 60 per cent of respondents say they’ll buy the latest BlackBerry smartphones.

About 35 per cent of respondents said they’ve moved on to other brands while the remaining poll participants said they’re still unsure if they’ll adopt the new products.

Torys LLP recently announced it would roll out the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 models across its offices by this summer.

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The Law Society of Upper Canada’s governing body has approved a proposal to create a new licence for paralegals that would train them in some aspects of family law such as form completion, uncontested divorces and motions to change. Do you agree with this move?
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