Monday, April 27, 2009

Reacting to expected societal challenges during the economic downturn, the Law Commission of Ontario has launched a new project that aims to identify best practices for early in the family law dispute resolution process.

LCO executive director Patricia Hughes said in a release, “One of the major benefits of this project is its potential for improving the family law system for Ontario’s more vulnerable populations.”
The LCO said family law crises usually rise during tough economic times, while the resources to deal with them dwindle.

“Most people do not think about ‘law’ until they face a family crisis,” said the commission. “It is therefore more important than ever to evaluate the effectiveness of family dispute resolution processes and ensure that they are to all Ontarians.”

The project - which will identify ways to make justice services more efficient, quicker, and cheaper - is expected to take 18 months to complete. The commission plans to hold public consultations, conduct research, and seek advice from family law organizations.

Queen’s University Faculty of Law Prof. Nicholas Bala is this year’s recipient of the Ontario Bar Association Award for Excellence in Family Law.

“Throughout his legal career, professor Bala has been a leader in teaching and advancing family law in our province and across North America,” said OBA family law section chairman Tom Dart, in a release.

“His contributions to the body of law, legal education, and his community are truly remarkable.”
The award, which will be presented to Bala at a June 10 ceremony in Toronto, goes to someone who has made exceptional contributions and achievements in various aspects of family law.

Bala has been a professor at Queen’s since 1980, and is an expert on family and children’s law. His research focuses on parental rights and responsibilities after divorce, child witnesses and child abuse, spousal abuse and its effects on children, young offenders, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP has admitted 16 new partners to its Canadian offices.
“At FMC, we recognize the importance of encouraging talent from within to facilitate future success,” said Michel Brunet, the firm’s chairman and chief executive officer, in a release.

“Our 16 new partners deliver innovative insight and expertise to their respective practice groups, broadening the resources available to our clients across the country.”

Three lawyers from the firm’s Ontario offices were included in the announcement. In Toronto, Timothy Banks and Matthew Peters are now partners, and in Ottawa, Wendy Riel was named partner.

Statistics Canada’s new police-reported crime severity index suggests criminal acts in 2007 were less serious compared to those taking place in 1998.

In 2007, the index for overall crime was 94.6, a drop from 119.1 in 1998, according to the report. That indicates that the severity of crime went down by about 20 per cent. The 10-year decline was led by a 40-per-cent reduction in break-ins.

The agency also reported that the traditional police-reported crime rate, used to gauge the volume of police-reported crime, experienced a more moderate drop over the same period. That number fell by 15 per cent, according to the study.

The Canadian government must take a stance against the “rapid deterioration” of the rule of law in Fiji, where military control has led to a suspension of the constitution and the dismissal of judges, according to the Canadian Bar Association.

“We believe it is imperative that the Canadian government act now to help forestall a humanitarian crisis which inevitably follows such deep disrespect for a country’s laws and legal system,” said CBA president Guy Joubert, in a release.

The CBA sent a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, expressing its support for a statement from the Commonwealth Lawyers Association calling on leaders in Fiji to reinstate the constitution at once. The situation has worsened since that letter was issued, said the CBA.

The CBA’s letter notes that an independent judiciary and independent legal profession are key aspects of a functional society in which citizens’ rights are respected.

Justice Harvey Brownstone of the Ontario Court of Justice is offering free information on family law matters at, a move he says was motivated by the need for greater public understanding of the system.

“I am pleased to be moderating the family law portion of AdviceScene,” said Brownstone, author of the bestselling book “Tug of War,” in a release.

“While judges cannot give legal advice or comment on specific cases or discuss political issues, we have a lot of information and insights we can share about the law and the justice system.”

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