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Monday, June 1, 2015

LAWYER HAS CHOICE WORDS FOR LSUC

A lawyer who won his appeal of a ruling revoking his licence to practise law by the Law Society Tribunal had choice words for the regulator in his bid for costs.

“You as an SRO currently operate as a turd,” wrote Paul Robson in a Jan. 28 letter to the appeal division.

“A stinking steaming giant hypocritically confliected (sic) turd at the intersection of Queen and Uniisity (sic).”

The letter arose in a May 22 decision from the appeal division considering Robson’s bid for costs of $750,000 for his successful appeal. In the letter, he was raising concern about a Feb. 2 deadline to file any motion seeking access to documents from the tribunal office or the law society in relation to costs. “I do not think that is fair to me or you,” he wrote in reference to the deadline.

The appeal division then sent a message extending the deadline to Feb. 16. Two days before that date, Robson sent another message saying the law society “is an accessory to murder” and noting he expected the LSUC to pay the $750,000 in costs “forthwith.”

The exchanges of communication continued, but the appeal division determined in the recent decision that it had never received the required materials. “Despite Mr. Robson’s unconventional means of seeking additional time to reply, which appeared to be dominated by vitriol directed to the Law Society, rather than submissions to the Appeal Division, we granted Mr. Robson additional time to reply. He was to serve and file his reply materials on or before April 15, 2015. He never filed any such materials. Nor did he seek a further extension of time,” wrote chairman Mark Sandler in the appeal division’s May 22 decision.

In the absence of what it was seeking, the appeal division went on to rule on the costs issue and ultimately decided against awarding costs in either the hearing or the appeal. “The Law Society and the hearing panel were incorrect in law,” wrote Sandler.

“However, we do not conclude that the Law Society’s conduct was without reasonable justification, patently unreasonable, malicious, taken in bad faith, or for a collateral purpose. Our ultimate rejection of the Law Society’s position does not mean that the proceedings against Mr. Robson were ‘unwarranted’ in law. Nor do we conclude that the Law Society caused costs to be incurred without reasonable cause or to be wasted.”

The case against Robson related to allegations of conduct unbecoming arising during a civil action. Robson challenged multiple rulings made by the hearing panel with the appeal division setting aside the findings of conduct unbecoming and ordering a hearing before a different panel on Jan. 13.

LERNERS PARTNER TO LEAD OTLA

The Ontario Trial Lawyers Association has a new president with Maia Bent succeeding Steve Rastin in the role.

A partner at Lerners LLP, Bent is the second lawyer from the firm’s office in London, Ont., to serve in the role in recent years after Andrew Murray’s election to the position in 2012.

“Lerners is proud to employ a team of lawyers who work as passionate advocates for their clients, but our team is also deeply involved in helping address vital legal issues outside of our daily practice,” said Ian Dantzer, managing partner of Lerners in London.

“As president of OTLA, I know that Maia’s profound expertise, compassion, and commitment to the public good will have a tremendously positive impact for her members and those who suffer personal injury or loss in every part of Ontario.”

BAIRD JOINS BENNETT JONES

Former federal cabinet minister John Baird has joined Bennett Jones LLP as a senior adviser.

“Mr. Baird’s expertise in government, domestic, and international business and natural resources will provide invaluable advisory insight and counsel to our clients,” said Hugh MacKinnon, chairman and chief executive officer of Bennett Jones.

Baird, who most recently served as minister of foreign affairs before leaving politics this year, called Bennett Jones a “natural fit” for him.

“I look forward to working with Bennett Jones and their clients to provide strategic counsel in relation to their plans in Canada and abroad,” he said.

“This work will not include making representations to the government of Canada. In particular, I am excited to continue my interest in Canada-China relations, the Bennett Jones office in Beijing being a further draw for me to the firm.”

BINNIE NAMED SPECIAL ARBITRATOR

Ahead of an upcoming report from the auditor general on the Senate, former Supreme Court justice Ian Binnie is taking on the role of special arbitrator over expense disputes.

Binnie will adjudicate cases where senators take issue with orders to reimburse expenses following the auditor general’s report on expense claims.

“I am satisfied that this procedure is independent, fair, and impartial,” said Binnie following his appointment to the role by the steering committee of the standing committee on internal economy, budgets, and administration.

“Every citizen has the right to due process,” he added.

“The Senate arbitration process ensures this.”

NEW LAW FOUNDATION CEO ANNOUNCED

The Law Foundation of Ontario has chosen Tanya Lee to serve as its next chief executive officer.

Lee takes over the role on July 1. Her roles at the organization have included serving as director of policy and programs and director of the access to justice fund. She has also worked at the Ministry of the Attorney General as counsel in the constitutional law branch.

Lee succeeds Elizabeth Goldberg in the role.

POLL RESULTS

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

According to the poll, 67 per cent of respondents feel the federal government should make it easier for Crown prosecutors to run for political office.

The poll follows concerns by an Ottawa prosecutor who’s seeking judicial review of a Public Service Commission decision not to grant her leave to run as a candidate in the upcoming federal election.

The majority of poll respondents felt the government has had inconsistent positions on the issue given previous situations in which prosecutors were able to run for office.

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