Monday, October 14, 2013

The Ontario Superior Court has awarded University of Ottawa law professor Joanne St. Lewis $50,000 in costs over a motion in her ongoing libel action against a fellow academic.

On Oct. 4, Justice Robert Smith awarded the costs to St. Lewis in addition to $40,000 to the university over former physics professor Denis Rancourt’s champerty motion seeking a stay of the action as an abuse of process. Smith had earlier dismissed the motion. The case centres on a blog post by Rancourt that St. Lewis had acted as “Alan Rock’s house negro.” None of the allegations have been proven in court.

In awarding costs, Smith rejected arguments to lower them based on Rancourt’s alleged impecuniosity. “Rancourt is a self-represented individual in these proceedings. However, I do not find that this is a reason for denying costs to the successful respondents to his motion. His actions caused the university and St. Lewis to spend substantial amounts of time to respond to multiple factual allegations and numerous steps in the proceeding.”

Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law are collaborating to get students engaged in a unique innovation legal clinic at MaRS Discovery District.

Upper-year U of T law students with business and science backgrounds will staff the Innovation Law Clinic. The students will provide “high quality business and IP legal services” to startup and early-stage businesses under the supervision of Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers.

“Students’ work will be supervised by Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers, who will provide their Canadian and global expertise in all aspects of innovation law,” Norton Rose said in a press release.

“This is how innovation can happen in Canada. Working together, the academic, professional, and entrepreneurial worlds can create new opportunities for all partners,” said Anthony de Fazekas, a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright in Toronto.

“The clinic reflects how we work with innovation clients at our firm and how we collaborate with other leaders in the area.”

Mayo Moran, dean of the law faculty, said the collaboration presents an invaluable experiential learning opportunity for students.

“We are proud to partner with Norton Rose Fulbright and MaRS to bring another experiential learning clinic to our law students. Innovation law is a rapidly growing, exciting new legal area. Our students will be engaged in the vibrancy of the tech world while learning from among the legal leaders in the field.”

It’s time to overhaul Canada’s information and privacy laws, the country’s privacy commissioners and ombudspersons are saying.

At a time when revelations of government intelligence programs have sparked renewed interest in privacy issues, governments should be updating the laws to protect Canadians’ rights, the officials said at a meeting in Vancouver last week.

“We live in a world where technologies are evolving at lightning speed and organizations are using our personal information in ways previously unimaginable — creating new risks for our privacy,” said Jennifer Stoddart, federal privacy commissioner. “Our laws need to keep up. Canadians expect and deserve modern, effective laws to protect their right to privacy.”

Suzanne Legault, federal information commissioner, is also calling for an update to Canada’s access to information laws.

“Freedom of information is the expression of Canadians’ core values. It is fundamental to the functioning of democracy. Canadian access laws must reflect this important role and become the gold standard in access to information worldwide.”

Michelle Henry has rejoined Borden Ladner Gervais LLP as a partner at the firm.

Michelle was previously a partner at BLG until March 2012 when she left to work as an in-house counsel in the area of federal employment-related legislation.

“Michelle is widely regarded as a strong advocate for her clients with a broad legal background in employment and labour relations litigation,” said Sean Weir, national managing partner and chief executive officer at BLG.

“Having worked in-house as corporate counsel, Michelle well understands the importance of knowing her clients’ business and providing practical solutions that meet both their legal and business needs. We are very pleased to welcome her back to the firm.”

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