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Monday, December 14, 2015

KING OF THE HILL

Make sure you bow or curtsy next time you walk by the offices of Aird & Berlis LLP. The firm has been named official “Office of the Honorary Consul for the Kingdom of Belgium for Ontario,” according to a press release. That’s a mouthful!

The appointment follows on the heels of A&B partner Donald B. Johnston, co-leader of the firm’s technology group, being named honorary consul by Royal Decree of the King of Belgium last September.

The firm threw a shindig to honour the occasion, which included high-ranking dignitaries from various European governments, including Germany, Luxembourg, Hungary, France, and Belgium, as well as representatives from the Toronto business and legal communities. And, we hope, Belgian chocolates, because they are so good!

Belgian Ambassador Raoul Delcorde took time to note the long-standing relationship his country has had with Canada. Can you believe it? About 1,200, registered Belgians currently work and reside in Ontario, not bad for a country with a population around 11 million.

ROTHSTEIN RETURNS TO BATTLE

Former Supreme Court of Canada justice Marshall Rothstein has a new home in Vancouver at Hunter Litigation Chambers. Rothstein, a former Federal Court judge whom the SCC often called on to deliver rulings in intellectual property cases and federal issues, sat on the top court from 2006 to 2015.

The former Manitoba lawyer joins Hunter as associate counsel, and says “I look forward to applying my particular interests in intellectual property, tax law, and regulatory issues to the work of the practice.”

TASTY PAYDAY AT EXPENSE OF PENSIONERS

Nortel continues to be the litigation gift that keeps on giving.

According to recent figures compiled by independent financial analyst Diane Urquhart, fees paid to professionals in Nortel’s cross-border insolvency have surpassed a staggering $2.1 billion, about 15 per cent of the assets, with more litigation to come in both Canada and the U.S.

According to Urquhart, who studied U.S. insolvency filings to get a picture of who earned what, the big Canadian winners (converted to Canadian dollars) include Torys LLP, which has collected more than $24 million, while Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP and Lax O’Sullivan Lisus LLP have received another $133 million. Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP received $6 million as Canadian legal counsel for the U.S. Unsecured Creditor Committee.

However, that’s chump change compared with what some U.S. law firms have been paid. Cleary Gottlieb Steen Hamilton LLP and Herbert Smith LLP have earned more than a half a billion dollars to date. Nice gig if you can get it.

Meanwhile, Urquhart points out, some former Nortel employees on disability are getting by on as little as $11,148 annually, or about an hour or two of billings among these legal giants.

POLL RESULTS

Apparently Ontario’s class action judges have stirred up a hornet’s nest with their recent rulings involving Merchant Law Group. The Law Times poll asked readers if those cases will lead to more Ontario carriage fights in class actions?

Overwhelmingly, 75 per cent said brace for the storm because “the court has opened a can of worms,” while 25 per cent think Merchant will fold its tent and go back home to Saskatchewan.

Hang onto your hats this could get interesting.

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Law Times reports that the Correctional Service Canada has been found to be negligent in the severe beating of an inmate. Do you think inmate safety at jails and prisons needs significant improvement?
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