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Monday, August 31, 2015

FAMILY LAWYER APPOINTED TO THE BENCH

The provincial government has appointed lawyer Melanie Sager to the bench of the Ontario Court of Justice.

Sager, a lawyer called to the bar in 1995, has been a sole practitioner of family law for the past 20 years.

Her work has included acting as duty counsel and representing children as an agent for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.

Outside of court, Sager serves on the board of directors of the Scarborough Women’s Centre and has been on the board of the Family Lawyers Association. Her appointment to preside in Toronto is effective Sept. 8.

CROWN’S CIVIL CASE AGAINST FORMER LAWYER MOVES FORWARD

The Ontario Superior Court has upheld a decision allowing Crown attorney Roger Shallow to amend his civil claim against his former lawyer.

The case, Shallow v. Adair, relates to Shallow’s 2007 arrest by Toronto police, who charged him with causing a disturbance and obstruction. With the charges withdrawn 15 months later, Shallow contacted lawyer Geoffrey Adair after the Toronto Police Association issued a news release that alleged misconduct in the withdrawal of the charges. Among several causes of action considered by Adair, he said he’d issue a libel action over the news release, Shallow alleges.

Shallow claims Adair failed to follow his instructions to commence proceedings and is suing the lawyer for negligence, according to Justice Thomas Lederer’s Aug. 20 ruling in the case. None of the allegations has been proven in court.

Lederer’s endorsement dealt with Adair and his law firm’s appeal of a master’s order allowing Shallow to amend his statement of claim. According to the defendants, the amendments assert new claims barred by the expiration of the two-year limitation period. In particular, the amended claim includes references to Adair’s alleged failure to launch proceedings with respect to defamation, a cause of action the defendants suggested the original claim didn’t identify.

In considering Adair’s appeal, Lederer found that a reference to a defamation action appeared in several paragraphs of the original statement of claim. “The Statement of Claim may be neither ‘perfect’ nor ‘artful’ . . . but I have no difficulty in finding that the material facts necessary to demonstrate the basis for a claim for negligence for the failure to commence an action for whatever wrongs are said to have arisen from the actions of the police on October 6, 2007 or publication of the news release on January 8, 2009 were present and pleaded,” wrote Lederer in dismissing the appeal.

Shallow’s original arrest has sparked a number of developments, including an apology to him earlier this year by the police association over the news release. He has alleged police improperly searched him because of his race.

POLL RESULTS    

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

According to the poll, a narrow majority of respondents believe artificial intelligence is good for lawyers. About 52 per cent of them agreed it represents an opportunity given the new types of work created, while the remainder felt it’s a threat as the overall amount of work for lawyers goes down.

The poll followed a session on artificial intelligence at the recent Canadian Bar Association legal conference in Calgary at which a panel discussed the potential role of automation in legal services. One panellist advised lawyers to get an early start on using artificial intelligence in order to get a competitive advantage, while another, Prof. Ian Kerr, emphasized that there are some tasks that are inappropriate for automation.

FINKELSTEIN ORDERED TO PAY $450K PENALTY

A panel of the Ontario Securities Commission has ordered former Davies Ward Phillips and Vineberg LLP lawyer Mitchell Finkelstein to pay $450,000 in administrative penalties and $125,000 in costs after finding him guilty of insider tipping on three different occasions.

As part of the penalty issued last week, Finkelstein also received a 10-year ban on trading and acquiring securities with the exception of doing so for select registered accounts.

In March, an OSC panel found Finkelstein had tipped his friend, an investment adviser at CIBC, about impending takeover deals. That friend, Paul Azeff, then purchased shares associated with those deals and recommended his friends and family do the same, the commission found.

“As the instigator of the subsequent insider trading by others in disregard of his duties of confidentiality and of the high standard of probity towards the capital markets expected of a mergers and acquisitions lawyer, Finkelstein’s transgressions must be considered to be at the upper end of severity,” wrote commissioners Alan Lenczner and AnneMarie Ryan.

In Finkelstein’s case, OSC enforcement staff had sought a lifetime trading ban, a lifetime exclusion as a director and officer of a reporting issuer, and an administrative penalty in the amount of $1.5 million.

Media reported Finkelstein’s lawyer, Gordon Capern, as saying his client plans to appeal the OSC panel’s findings as well as the sanctions.

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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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