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Monday, March 7, 2011

KOPYTO ORDERED TO PAY LSUC $10K

Harry Kopyto must pay the Law Society of Upper Canada $10,000 in costs after abandoning a motion in his ongoing bid for a licence as a paralegal.

A hearing panel was formed in late 2009 after Kopyto sought directions on disclosure by the law society as he attempted to challenge its jurisdiction to regulate paralegals.

The former lawyer, who was disbarred in 1989 for overbilling legal aid, complained about the neutrality of two panel members, Paul Dray and Carl Fleck.

Kopyto eventually abandoned his motion for directions in late 2010 on short notice ahead of a scheduled hearing when it became clear that Dray wouldn’t recuse himself. That has now cost him $10,000 after the law society demanded costs.

Kopyto has since filed a new motion before a new panel seeking wide-ranging disclosure from the law society. There has been no decision yet on that motion.

For more on this story, see "Kopyto''s long battle with LSUC."

IMPORTANT ISSUES IN CASSELS BROCK CASE: JUDGE

An Ontario judge has certified a $750-million class action against Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP and General Motors of Canada Ltd. by more than 200 auto dealers terminated during a government bailout of the carmaker.

The dealers allege Cassels Brock was in a conflict of interest when it advised the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association without disclosing that it was acting for the government during the bailout.

Cassels Brock says the association was to retain it only to provide advice in the event of GM’s bankruptcy. None of the claims have been proven in court.

Common issues in the claim against Cassels Brock, such as the circumstances of the retainer and the alleged conflict, “raise important issues concerning lawyers’ duties to their clients, particularly in the context of group retainers,” Ontario Superior Court Justice George Strathy wrote in his 69-page decision.

[span style="color: #000000;"]Strathy also denied a motion by Cassels Brock to stay the action against it. The law firm had argued the claims against it and GM involved “distinct transactions” that weren’t intertwined.

Under normal circumstances, it might make sense to stay an action between a client and a law firm over its actions on a specific deal because the solicitor’s liability arises only when the client loses against the other party to it, Strathy wrote. But, he added, “This is not a typical solicitor’s negligence case.”

According to Strathy, the two claims arise out of the same factual matrix, and the plaintiffs’ pleadings are broad enough that the result of the case against GM “will not necessarily be determinative of the claim against Cassels.”

“I accept that this action may be oppressive and onerous to Cassels and an embarrassment to its partners,” Strathy said. “A lawsuit, particularly one involving a claim for $750 million, is necessarily so.”

But in the long run, it would be “more advantageous to enable them to participate in the proceedings from the outset” than have the case hanging over their heads for years, he wrote.

For more on this story, see [a href="http://www.lawtimesnews.com/201002016293/Headline-News/Cassels-case-reads-like-blockbuster-script"]

"Cassels Brock case reads like blockbuster script."[/span][/a]

TORYS GOES WEST
Torys LLP has opened a new seven-lawyer office in Calgary, a move that represents the firm’s first foray into the Alberta market.

“The pace of economic growth in Calgary and its strength in the energy sector have earned the city a reputation as an internationally recognized financial and business hub,” said managing partner Les Viner.

Four of the seven new partners come from Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP: Scott Cochlan, Ron Deyholos, Kevin Fougere, and Janan Paskaran.

Tony Cioni, who was in-house counsel at Husky Energy Inc., has also joined the team along with Harold Huber, who left McCarthy Tétrault LLP’s Toronto office, and Neville Jugnauth of Macleod Dixon LLP. He’ll join the firm on March 16.

“I am delighted to welcome these outstanding lawyers to Torys,” Viner said. “We look forward to providing the firm’s clients in Calgary with the same exceptional service and value for which Torys is known.”

[span style="font-weight: bold; color: #ff6600;"]

NEW BENCHER TO SERVE SHORT TERM[/span]

William Kaplan has been appointed as the Law Society of Upper Canada’s newest bencher. But with just weeks until the next election, he could be in for one of the shortest terms in the law society’s history.

Kaplan replaces Glenn Hainey following his appointment to the bench. Kaplan was the next name on the list based on the 2007 election but hasn’t put himself forward as a candidate this time.

Kaplan, a Toronto lawyer, arbitrator, and mediator, can now add an extra line to an already bulging resumé.

After collecting law degrees from Osgoode Hall Law School, the University of Toronto, and Stanford Law School, he was a professor at the University of Ottawa. He has also written more than 15 books, including a biography of former Supreme Court justice Ivan Rand and another on the Airbus affair.  

Hainey was appointed a judge of the Superior Court of Justice in Toronto after just 2 1/2 years as a bencher. He filled the spot vacated by Derry Millar when he became treasurer in 2008.

During his short time at the law society, he led the efforts that resulted in the civility protocols for judges and chaired the professional regulation committee.

14 NEW PARTNERS AT FMC

Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP has announced the appointment of 14 new partners, including five at the firm’s Toronto office.

Insolvency and restructuring practitioners Jane Dietrich and Ryan Jacobs were promoted alongside employment lawyer Christina Hall. Environmental litigator Marina Sampson and corporate commercial lawyer Anna Balinsky were the others named partners in Toronto.

“As a key dimension of our commitment to our clients and our people, we encourage and promote talent from within,” said Chris Pinnington, CEO at FMC.

“These new partners have significantly contributed to the strength of their respective practice areas and exemplify our firm’s ability to provide unparalleled legal excellence.”

The firm also named four new partners in Vancouver and one in Calgary. The Edmonton and Montreal offices each got two new partners.

CANADIAN EXECS ACQUITTED IN U.S.

A Canadian night-vision equipment manufacturer and two of its executives have been acquitted in a San Francisco court of fraud charges against them.

Newcon International Ltd. faced the charges in connection with a supply contract with the U.S. army to provide night-vision goggles for Iraqi forces.

The U.S. Department of Justice made its allegations in 2005, and the charges were laid in 2007. The firm’s president, Michael Beker, and former vice president, Arie Prilik, were also charged.

Peter Biro, a partner at WeirFoulds LLP, co-ordinated the international defence team. He’s also external general counsel for Newcon.

“This is a complete vindication,” Biro said. “We have asserted from the beginning that the charges were groundless and that the conduct of both Newcon and its executives was beyond reproach.”

In her ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel described the work of prosecutors as “sloppy.”

Beker returned to Canada last week after spending the last year confined to California as part of his bail terms.

“This ordeal has been traumatic for my company, my staff, and my family,” said Beker. “It took all my strength and resolve to stand up to the formidable and intimidating force of the United States justice system. But I knew that I was right, I knew that I was innocent, and I am very grateful that it is over now.”

MILLER BACK AT AIRD & BERLIS

Former Toronto mayor David Miller has returned to Aird & Berlis LLP after a 17-year gap to pursue public office.

Miller was a partner when he resigned in 1994 and returns as counsel for international business and sustainability.

“As counsel, Mr. Miller will assist the firm in the implementation of its international business development strategy, with an initial focus on its clean technology, energy, and environmental practice areas,” the firm said.

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