Monday, August 24, 2015

The provincial government has appointed two new judges to the Ontario Court of Justice.

The new judges, whose appointments are effective Aug. 26, will preside in Kitchener, Ont.

The first is Craig Parry, who was called to the bar in 1998 and has been a sole practitioner in Kitchener for 13 years. A director of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association for the Waterloo Region since 2008, Parry primarily practised criminal law but also dealt with family and civil matters.

Also appointed to the bench is Melanie Sopinka, who has been an assistant Crown attorney for the last 14 years. Before joining the Ministry of the Attorney General, she served as litigation counsel at the Ontario Securities Commission.

A few lawyers are among those recognized by Out on Bay Street as part of its Leaders to be Proud of Awards.

The awards recognize achievements or service in Canada’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and ally community. Lawyers honoured by the organization include Brad Berg, a partner at Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, and Aird & Berlis LLP counsel Angela Swan. Both received the professional leadership award.

Receiving the emerging leader award is Angela Chaisson of Ruby & Shiller. Out on Bay Street will recognize the recipients at an awards reception on Sept. 17 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The litigation involving former MP Helena Guergis against Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, lawyer Arthur Hamilton, a former Conservative colleague, and a private investigator continues with the Superior Court rejecting the law firm’s attempt to strike parts of the plaintiff’s amended statement of claim.

In an Aug. 4 ruling, the court considered Hamilton and the law firm’s move to strike several paragraphs of the new pleading they alleged weren’t consistent with an earlier ruling or tenable at law. Among other things, Guergis alleges Hamilton breached his duties to her when he acted to undermine her efforts to return to the Conservative caucus. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

In deciding the matter, Justice Charles Hackland found certain issues with Guergis’ pleading but he allowed her to amend it.

Jillian Swartz has left Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP to join corporate law boutique Allen McDonald LLP.
The firm, now called Allen McDonald Swartz LLP, focuses on corporate law, capital markets transactions, and securities law. Swartz had practised at Blakes for almost 20 years.

“Jillian’s going to be an outstanding addition to our team, not only because of her years of experience, but also because of her enthusiasm, entrepreneurial spirit, and true dedication to her clients. We are thrilled for this new phase in our partnership and especially for the enhanced scope of expertise this will bring to our clients,” said Jennifer Allen, a partner at the firm.

The Ontario Securities Commission has tapped Norton Rose Fulbright’s Grant Vingoe to serve as a vice chairman of the regulator.

Vingoe, a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School, has worked as a partner at international law firms in Toronto and New York, most recently with Norton Rose Fulbright.

“Grant’s extensive experience as a leader on cross-border securities initiatives, along with his strong background in corporate governance and regulatory policy, make him the ideal candidate,” said OSC chairman Howard Wetston.

A Toronto lawyer will get a new hearing after successfully appealing the Law Society Tribunal’s findings of professional misconduct.

Michael Andrew Osborne, a lawyer previously disbarred by a hearing panel, challenged the findings that he had knowingly participated in fraud in relation to 11 real estate transactions in 2003 and 2004. In his appeal, he argued he was neither wilfully blind nor reckless as to their fraudulent nature and that, despite being aware of some unusual features, believed they were bona fide, according to the appeal division’s Aug. 13 ruling.

In granting a new hearing, the appeal division found that while the transactions were fraudulent, Osborne’s state of mind “was far more contentious.” It also found some instances of misapprehension of the testimony and evidence by the hearing panel in the case.

In other tribunal rulings, a hearing panel has disbarred lawyer James William Scott.

According to the Aug. 12 reasons for decision and findings on penalty, Scott had failed to co-operate with and respond to two investigations by the Law Society of Upper Canada. Among other things, the hearing panel found he had failed to serve a client and misappropriated funds held in trust. In disbarring Scott, the hearing panel noted his previous discipline history and found him ungovernable. It also ordered him to pay more than $13,000 in costs. The lawyer had failed to participate in the hearing, the panel noted.

In another case, this one before the Divisional Court, lawyer Roderick John Byrnes has lost his appeal of his disbarment.

The case against Byrnes centred on his actions in a family law case and the fees he charged to his client. He appealed after a hearing panel found he had “‘churned’ the relatively simple matrimonial file” and overcharged his client for the value of the work performed. The appeal panel dismissed his appeal last year, after which Byrnes took the matter to the Divisional Court.

In his latest appeal, Byrnes raised two new issues: that the hearing panel had incorrectly placed the onus on him to disprove the allegations and had failed to fully address the issue of his credibility.

In its ruling last week, the Divisional Court dismissed his appeal. “A review of the reasons confirms that the Hearing Panel did not reverse the onus of proof,” wrote Justice Janet Wilson in considering the hearing panel’s conclusion on overcharging in the case.

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