Monday, July 28, 2014

The masters of the Ontario Superior Court are mourning the death of one of their colleagues this month.

Master Richard Peterson, who had served in the role since 1984, died at his summer home on Georgian Bay on July 18, according to an obituary in The Globe and Mail. The 67-year-old master had been working part-time until the time of his death.

Crime rates in Canada have gone down along with the severity of the offences committed, according to new data released by Statistics Canada.

The volume and severity of crimes declined by nine per cent last year from 2012. The index has been going down steadily over the last decade, according to Statistics Canada, which reported the severity of the crime reported has decreased by 36 per cent in the last 10 years.

Crime rates also declined in that time period. Recent data shows the crime rate in Canada fell by eight per cent in 2013 compared to 2012. Canadian police services reported just over 1.8 million criminal incidents in 2013, a decrease of 132,000 from the previous year.

Last year, all Canadian jurisdictions other than the Yukon and Newfoundland and Labrador reported a decrease in the volume and severity of criminal incidents. Yukon saw a six-per-cent increase, whereas Newfoundland reported a one-per-cent rise.

A Law Society of Upper Canada hearing panel has recused itself from a disciplinary proceeding after a witness overheard the panel members badmouthing her in the hallway.

In a matter dealing with an alleged failure to respond to law society communications, an LSUC investigator was to appear as a witness. During her testimony, some documents had to be sorted from various boxes, according to a July 15 ruling on the recusal matter. To allow for this to happen, the investigator and the panel left the room.

While outside, the investigator overheard the panel, chaired by Susan Richer, call her “sloppy” and say she didn’t understand things because “she’s never been a real lawyer.”

The witness discussed what she had heard with the law society counsel, who brought a motion for recusal of the panel based on a claim that it had formed an opinion too early in the disciplinary process.

“Had the witness overheard this panel discussing her evidence after she had finished testifying, or had someone else overheard our deliberations while the witness was still testifying, we would not have recused ourselves.
However, at the heart of this motion is trial fairness,” the panel wrote.

“The investigator, having inadvertently heard her evidence discussed in terms that could be seen as negative, had to go right back into the hearing room and continue testifying. No one, including herself, can know what effect that had on her focus and her ability to recall.  It must also be remembered that she had not expected to testify at all at this hearing.”

The panel added: “This is not fair to the witness or to the hearing process.”

Following a number of decisions dealing with adverse costs orders against lawyers, a judge has found a law firm and two of its lawyers should pay for what he called “egregious” misconduct in a family law case.

Nanda & Associate Lawyers PC and two of its lawyers are collectively facing a $13,000 bill after the court found they tried to bring a motion on nine minutes notice, made false representations to a judge, and started an action in the wrong forum to get a “home-court advantage.”

One of the firm’s lawyers filed an action in Brampton, Ont., when he should have done so in Kitchener, Ont., wrote Superior Court Justice Grant Campbell in Sangha v. Sangha on July 11.

“By using the ‘rush-in and get-there-first’ (in the court closest to the law firm’s offices) tactic, Mr. Cook and Nanda and Associates (he represents the firm and his decisions, or perhaps his following the firm’s policy to only litigate in Brampton, binds his firm as well) can be faulted for committing a gross error in judgment and for intentional conduct that willfully disregarded the impact of his decision to litigate in the wrong forum,” wrote Campbell.

The firm, which represented the wife in a family law case, also made a false claim that the father had planned to abduct the couple’s child, according to Campbell. He ordered the firm to pay $5,000 with another $5,000 payable by one lawyer and a further $3,000 by another counsel who appeared on the matter.

The decision follows other rulings ordering lawyers to personally pay costs in cases such as 1250294 Ontario Ltd. v. 2141065 Ontario Inc. on July 8 and Bailey v. Barbour on June 18.

Former Fogler Rubinoff LLP partner Cathryn Sawicki has joined Baker & McKenzie LLP.

The immigration lawyer is joining the firm as a partner in its global immigration and mobility practice department.

“Our clients know that Canada's immigration regime is facing additional scrutiny and adjustment, and companies want to stay ahead of the curve as they continually enhance and expand their global mobility programs,” said Betsy Morgan, head of Baker & McKenzie’s global immigration and mobility practice.

“Cathryn’s 15 years of experience handling Canadian immigration matters is an excellent addition to our global practice, and we’re delighted she is joining the team.”

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

According to the poll, 86 per cent of respondents doubt the federal government’s new prostitution law will survive a constitutional challenge.

Critics have assailed the federal government’s legislation that would mainly target pimps and johns in the sex industry. Introduced as a response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling on the existing prostitution laws last year, opponents say the legislation will drive prostitutes further underground and put their safety at risk. The government argues it’s seeking to protect prostitutes from exploitation.

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