Monday, December 8, 2014

Family lawyer Bill Sullivan has received Legal Aid Ontario’s Sidney B. Linden award for his service to clients living in poverty.

Sullivan received the award on Dec. 4.

LAO board chairman John McCamus said Sullivan has devoted much of his career to representing society’s poorest.

“He is widely respected for his skillful advocacy, his compassion and humanity, and his generosity in mentoring many junior members of the family law bar,” said McCamus.

Sullivan’s commitment to legal aid started during his time at the Dalhousie University Faculty of Law, where he worked at the school’s legal clinic. After graduating, he articled at Toronto’s Parkdale Community Legal Services.

He then started a sole practice focusing on immigration, family law, and representing women who have experienced domestic violence.

The Ontario Court of Appeal has cleared a bank of liability in relation to a bad-cheque scam that duped two lawyers.

Lawyers Junaid Kayani and Jack Zwicker separately deposited counterfeit certified cheques into their respective trust accounts and followed a fake client’s instruction to issue trust cheques payable to Nithiyakalyaani Jewellers, a sham company appropriating the name and address of a corporation that had previously carried on business under the name of Nithiyakalyaani Jewellers Ltd.

After finding out about the fraud, the lawyers sued the Toronto-Dominion Bank for negligence and conversion.
While the trial judge had ruled in favour of the lawyers, the Court of Appeal disagreed in its Dec. 3 ruling.

Whether the bank was liable hinged on whether the payee had been a fictitious or non-existent party all along.

“The focus of the trial judge’s analysis was whether the bank could avail itself of the defence in s. 20(5) of the Bills of Exchange Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. B-4, (the ‘act’) which provides that ‘where the payee is a fictitious or non-existing person, the bill may be treated as payable to the bearer,’” wrote Justice William Hourigan in Kayani LLP v. The Toronto-Dominion Bank.

“The trial judge found that the payee was not fictitious as both Mr. Zwicker and Kayani made their instruments payable to Nithiyakalyaani Jewellers, which they believed was an existing entity, and which was an existing entity at the time the instruments were negotiated,” Hourigan continued.

But the Court of Appeal found that conclusion didn’t make sense since the lawyers weren’t aware of Nithiyakalyaani Jewellers Ltd.’s existence until they found out Nithiyakalyaani Jewellers was a fake company. The appeal court concluded the payee was non-existent and the bank wasn’t liable. “The payee is not the name of any real person known to the respondents at the time they drew the instruments,” wrote Hourigan. “The payee is, therefore, non-existing.”

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

According to the poll, the majority of respondents say they don’t believe the Ontario attorney general’s new Better Justice Together effort will make a difference.

The attorney general introduced the new program last month to promote court efficiency, support individuals with mental illness when they come into contact with the criminal justice system, make it easier for family law litigants to use mediation, and create an integrated system that “allows justice partners and participants to better share and access the information they need.”

But 58 per cent of poll respondents felt the program was “just more rhetoric” while the rest said the program was a sign that the current minister is ready to deliver on improvements to the justice system.

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