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Monday November 24, 2014

TWO TRUST AND ESTATE LAWYERS HONOURED

Two Toronto lawyers were among the honourees of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners founder’s awards for outstanding achievement this month.

Paul LeBreux, president of Globacor Tax Advisors, and Margaret O’Sullivan of O’Sullivan Estate Lawyers PC were among six winners recognized for their contributions at the organization’s global congress in Miami. The organization recognized LeBreux for his service since its inception in 1998, including his role as chairman from 2004-07. It honoured O’Sullivan for her service as a leader and mentor to other members.

“Paul and Margaret represent two outstanding members not only of STEP, but of the industry in Canada today,” said society chief executive David Harvey.

“Paul is regarded as one of Canada’s pre-eminent international tax practitioners and his experience and acumen has made him a highly sought after adviser by high-net worth clients domestically and overseas.”

Of O’Sullivan, he said: “Margaret has written extensively in the area of trust and estate planning and often devotes volunteer hours to special projects including the STEP Canada diploma program.”

ONTARIO LOOKS AT ELECTRONIC SIGNING

The Ontario government is looking to modernize real estate transactions by setting out the rules for electronic signatures on documents such as agreements of purchase and sale.

On Nov. 14, the province announced consultations on the issue to last until the end of the year. The changes would allow it to implement an amendment to the Electronic Commerce Act passed in 2013. The 2013 changes removed a provision in the act exempting electronic signatures for land transactions. The act itself dates back to 2000 as an effort to remove legal barriers to the use of electronic communications.

The proposed changes include a draft regulation the government is considering for agreements of purchase and sale. It stipulates several requirements, including that the method used is reliable for the purpose of identifying the person who signs; ensures that the electronic signature is permanent; and is accessible so as to be usable for subsequent reference by anyone entitled to have access to the document or authorized to require its production.

Some real estate lawyers, such as Toronto’s Lisa Laredo, are greeting the latest chapter in electronic signatures with some skepticism, especially in light of the concern over the definition of reliability and the fact that other documents involved in the process would be on paper anyway. “We really do not live in a paperless world when it comes to real estate,” said Laredo.

As well, she wonders how much effort electronic signatures would save given that, in her case, she generally only meets clients once and has to meet with them in person at some point anyway. “You have to be able to identify the person,” she said, noting if she were to adopt electronic signatures, she’d still need the client to come to the office to do it on her own system.

POLL RESULTS

The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

According to the poll, the majority of respondents don’t believe the government should relent on its cuts to refugee health care.

In an October ruling, the Federal Court of Appeal declined to stay a Federal Court decision that deemed the cuts to be cruel and unusual. But 65 per cent of poll respondents agreed the government has a right to restrict services to failed refugee claimants.

In her decision earlier this year, Federal Court Justice Anne Mactavish said she was “satisfied that the affected individuals are being subjected to ‘treatment’ as contemplated by section 12 of the Charter, and that this treatment is indeed ‘cruel and unusual.’”

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It's unknown how widely police in Ontario utilize controversial surveillance techniques that can capture private data from non-targets in criminal investigations. Do you think there should be formal requirements to release this information?
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