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Monday, June 22, 2015

NEW MANAGING PARTNER AT AIRD & BERLIS

Aird & Berlis LLP has a new managing partner with Steven Zakem taking on the role.

A partner at Aird & Berlis since 1993, Zakem is a member of the firm’s municipal and land-use planning group. He’s also a past chairman of the Ontario Bar Association’s municipal law section and has served on Aird & Berlis’ executive committee since 2011.

IP LAWYER HEADS TO ZURICH

Former Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh chairman John Bochnovic is leaving for a new posting in Zurich this September.

Bochnovic is taking on a new role as executive director of the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property, a non-governmental organization focused on developing and improving intellectual property protection.

He was a partner at Smart & Biggar for 29 years and has served as counsel since January 2015 as well as firm chairman from 2008-14. “John has been a valued partner and leader at Smart & Biggar/Fetherstonhaugh, but this is a great opportunity for John,” said Ron Faggetter, chairman of the executive committee at Smart & Biggar.

UPDATE ON DRAM DILEMMA

A plan to get over a hurdle to the distribution of settlement funds in a high-profile class action got a cold reception from an Ontario Superior Court judge recently.

“Whatever is going on here, it does not work and whatever it is, it is not an appropriate and responsible way for the court to supervise a class proceeding,” wrote Justice Paul Perell of an arrangement reached between class counsel and Eric Letts, a lawyer representing five class members objecting to the distribution plan in Eidoo v. Infineon Technologies AG, in his June 8 reasons for the decision.

The issue followed concerns by Letts’ clients that the distribution plan breaches the Human Rights Code. While class counsel deny such a breach, they reached an arrangement to have the claims administrator include an instruction on the claims web site. It would state: “When more than one claim is filed for the same household, the claims administrator shall provide the class members with the opportunity to explain the circumstances of their claims. The claims administrator may permit a reasonable adjustment of the distribution rules in order to facilitate such claims as it considers appropriate. In doing so, the claims administrator may require reasonable proof and explanation by the class member.”

Perell, however, wasn’t happy with the proposed resolution. “The proposed instruction may or may not be adequate to address what may or may not be a problem, raised by persons who may or may not have standing to challenge the approved settlement distribution scheme, but, in any event, the Court cannot endorse whatever this is at the whim of Class Counsel and Mr. Letts and his clients without ruling on the merits of the underlying dispute,” he wrote. “The Court cannot indirectly endorse an anti-suit injunction prohibiting Mr. Letts’ clients from taking administrative proceedings that may or may not be available to them assuming that they are entitled to make claims notwithstanding the releases that are a part of the court approved settlement.”

Instead, Perell decided a motion for directions would proceed so the court could rule on the merits of the claim.

POLL RESULTS

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

According to the poll, 72 per cent of respondents are against allowing contingency fees in family law. The poll followed a recent call by a group of family lawyers to allow contingency fees in order to make legal services more accessible to litigants. Some lawyers, however, expressed a number of concerns about ethical downsides and the practical difficulties of such a change.

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Lawyers have expressed concerns that of 38 justices of the peace the province appointed this summer, only 12 have law degrees. Do you think this is an issue?
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