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Monday, January 11, 2016

RCMP sex suit certified

Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell has certified a $600-million sex discrimination class action against the Attorney General of Canada brought by former RCMP officer Linda Gillis Davidson.

Perell dismissed a Crown motion to have the claim struck for failing to disclose a reasonable cause of action.

Davidson, represented by Toronto’s Kim Orr Barristers, alleged she and fellow female RCMP officers and female civilian members were subject to sexual discrimination, bullying, and harassment by the male officers and civilian members between 1986 and 2009. She sued the AG for negligence and breach of contract.

In his ruling released just before the new year, Perell struck Davidson’s claim in contract and against the public service members, but he granted leave to deliver an amended statement of claim.

“With respect to the negligence claim, I accept the Crown’s argument that the RCMP is not itself a legal entity capable of being sued as an institution and that under the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act, the Crown can only be liable vicariously (i.e., not directly) for the misconduct of individual Crown servants, but I conclude that Ms. Davidson has adequately pleaded a claim against the collective of all male police officers and all male civilian members of the RCMP during the class period, and, therefore, her systemic negligence claim is a sound claim for which the Crown is vicariously liable,” Perell wrote.

Stikemans beefs up

One of the country’s leading business law firms has added eight new lawyers to the partnership, effective Jan. 1. Five will join the offices in Toronto including Mike Devereux, who comes most recently from the firm’s offices in Sydney, Australia, and Meaghan Obee Tower, who was recognized by the International Financial Law Review’s IFLR1000: The Guide to the World’s Leading Financial Law Firms 2016 as a rising star in the area of banking.

Wise wins FEES claim

Chalk one up for lawyer Roy Wise, who successfully sued a client over fees. He represented the client in a dispute over the sale of taxi licences only to face a $400,000 counterclaim from the client for negligence.

In the end, Wise and his lawyer Benjamin Salsberg prevailed. In a cost endorsement, Ontario Superior Court of Justice Stephen Firestone awarded Wise $86,000 for his time spent representing the client and another $80,000 defending the counterclaim.

He found Wise “exercised his judgment appropriately and that he acted in accordance with his retainer and in his client’s best interests.”

Firestone noted that as a “direct result of the counterclaim, both the complexity and trial time were increased.

“In the counterclaim, the defendant called into question Wise’s integrity and competence as a solicitor.”

He said the client “could reasonably have expected that those allegations would be vigorously defended given both the amount sought and the nature of the allegations made against Wise.”

Law Times Poll

It was almost a political dead heat. We asked readers whether the Liberal government’s plan to engage in electoral reform was necessary. A slim majority (53.5%) agreed that the current electoral system is outdated and needs an overhaul, while 46.5% say our first-past-the-post system works well and politicians should butt out. That could make for some tricky times ahead steering electoral reform through the seas of change.

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Law Times Poll

Lawyers have expressed concerns that of 38 justices of the peace the province appointed this summer, only 12 have law degrees. Do you think this is an issue?