Canadian Lawyer

November 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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UPFRONT 10 www.canadianlawyermag.com NEWS BRIEFS Law prof who made complaint against judge at centre of U of T hiring scandal awaits action from CJC If allegations are true, judge's perceived bias would have chilling effect on some litigants: lawyer QUEEN'S LAW PROFESSOR Leslie Green says he is waiting for word from the Canadian Judicial Council about whether it intends to investigate the allegations that Justice David Spiro of the Tax Court of Canada improp- erly interfered in the hiring process at the University of Toronto's International Human Rights Program. Green made the complaint after reading media reports that Spiro had allegedly pres- sured Dean of Law Edward Iacobucci to reverse a job offer made to an academic because of her scholarship related to Israel's human rights abuses against Palestinians. "I thought that's as wrong as it can possibly get if it's true," says Green, who holds a part- time appointment as professor of law and is a distinguished university fellow at Queen's. Green is also a professor of the philosophy of law and fellow of Balliol College, University of Oxford and teaches in the areas of jurispru- dence, constitutional theory and moral and political philosophy. CJC director of communications Johanna Laporte told Canadian Lawyer that the complaint is currently being reviewed by the CJC's executive director. If the execu- tive director decides the complaint warrants consideration, the executive director will refer it to the chairperson, she says. The chairperson can then either instruct the director to retain an investigator or to gather Fresh medical evidence earns new trial in manslaughter case The Court of Appeal has set aside the convictions of two parents, found guilty of unlawful-act manslaughter in the sudden death of their two-year old daughter. The Crown's case — that the couple had not provided a sufficient diet — was based on a doctor's report that showed the child had died as a result of protein and vitamin deficiency. At trial, the defendants did not submit evidence from a medical expert to challenge the report. In R. v. Hosannah, 2020 ONCA 617, the Court of Appeal quashed the 2015 ruling of the Superior Court. Court hears constitutional challenge to election law prohibiting certain false statements The Ontario Superior Court recently heard the constitutional challenge of s. 91(1) of the Canada Elections Act. The applicants argue that the law — which prohibits publishing certain false statements about candidates during an election — is unconstitutional, overbroad and an ineffective weapon against fake news. The Canadian Constitution Foundation brought the challenge, which was heard Sept. 15 and 16. Under s. 91, it is prohibited to publish false accusations that a political candidate or public figure associated with a political party has broken the law, is charged with a crime, is under investigation by law enforcement or false statements concerning citizenship, birthplace, education, professional qualifications and group or association membership. LSO divided over how licensees struggling amid COVID-19 There is a clash within the Law Society of Ontario on how best to address the needs of licensees struggling due to COVID-19 impacts. On Sept. 24, Convocation voted to table a motion that would have the LSO reduce annual fees by 25 per cent for 2021. The chairman of the audit and finance committee, Joseph Groia, disagreed with the motion and says the LSO must be more targeted in its approach: The LSO could reduce or eliminate fees for licensees financially wrecked by the pandemic, the LSO allows select lawyers to be relieved of some of their LawPRO premiums or the LSO could set up a subsidiary, which would lend money to practitioners who need funds to tide them over until their practices pick up. Court of Appeal orders new trial due to judge's insufficient reasons The Court of Appeal has ordered a new trial in a civil case concerning Crown liability, finding the lower court judge's reasons too short, unclear and insufficient for a meaningful appellate review. "The reasons, at 14 pages, do not do justice to the record, nor to the arguments," said Court of Appeal Justice Peter Lauwers. Bruno v. Dacosta, 2020 ONCA 602 was a rare occurrence of a civil appeal being sent back for a new trial, says Ian MacLeod, who acted for the Crown. He says the decision also reinforces the correct approach to Crown liability: examining the conduct of individuals, rather than the institution or organization as a whole, when determining if there was negligence by the Crown. New institute to spur innovation, enhancing data accessibility The Legal Innovation Data Institute is a new, first-of-its kind non-profit to increase accessibility of legal data to be used to build new legal tools, increase access to justice and enhance personal privacy. It has harnessed a massive volume of Canadian legal information to build the LIDI Data Trust, which will work with courts and tribunals to expand their data sets, says founder Colin Lachance. ONTARIO UPDATE Ian MacLeod

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