Canadian Lawyer InHouse

October/November 2021

Legal news and trends for Canadian in-house counsel and c-suite executives

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4 NEWS ROUNDUP SPOTLIGHT NEWS BRIEFS Rebuilding a struggling business Cineplex legal team supports recovery after extended closures and restrictions Due to extended closures and tight restric- tions, the entertainment industry has arguably been one of the hardest hit sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic. As lockdowns are finally lifting, Canadian movie theatre giant, Cineplex, is pulling out all the stops to rebuild the beleaguered business. With 161 theatres across Canada, Cineplex faced complex and varied restrictions surrounding capacity limits and food sales across the different jurisdictions throughout the pandemic, so the legal team kept a watchful eye on ever-changing rules. "Just tracking what was happening across the country throughout the pandemic was a real challenge," says Michael Paris, executive director, legal counsel and chief privacy officer at Cineplex. "We had to find a balance between operating safely where we could and then also tracking all the different public health requirements and laws." In Quebec, for example, movie theatres operated at a capacity of 250 people per auditorium throughout the third wave of the pandemic. In contrast, Ontario theatres remained closed until the government declared phase three of the provincial reopening plan in mid-July. At that point, they could open at 50 per cent capacity. "As a lawyer, you have to track these things, understand what the rules are, and then explain them to the organization and explain what you are doing to enforce them," says Paris. The legal team at Cineplex embeds itself deeply in the business, so Paris and his team had a seat at the table throughout the pandemic to offer guidance on changing laws and be a part of the comprehensive planning process. Negotiating with governments was a vital piece of the puzzle for Paris during the pandemic. He felt that the rules imposed on movie theatres were excessive in some cases and not always proportionate to the potential risk. According to the Movie Theatre Associ- ation of Canada, when cinemas in Canada were running during the pandemic, there were zero reported instances of transmission or outbreaks associated with the screenings. One silver lining of being deemed a non-essential industry was the capacity to prepare by watching and learning from other sectors that were permitted to open earlier, such as restaurants and retailers. "We were definitely in the backseat in the eyes of virtually every government, so we had a lot of lead time to know what the regulatory environment was going to look like, and we were able to prepare our plans in-house pretty quickly, which was a huge advantage," says Paris. "Just tracking what was happening across the country throughout the pandemic was a real challenge." Michael Paris, Cineplex Stress and anxiety on the rise in-house Legal department leaders should prioritize employee wellbeing and retention issues post-pandemic and implement programs for these purposes, according to the findings of a recent survey conducted by the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association and Mondaq. Seventy-one per cent of respondents reported experiencing a rise in work-related stress and anxiety levels in 2020, with perceived contributors including higher levels of in-house accountability and greater demand for in-house legal services. Sixty per cent of respondents said they adopted additional responsibilities relating to matters like compliance, ethics, investigations and ESG. M&A surges in first half of 2021 Even as the global COVID-19 pandemic enters the fourth wave in North America despite the steady rollout of a vaccination program, corporate Canada is looking at some of the strongest dealmaking in years, says a new report by Torys LLP. Domestic deal volume increased 49 per cent in the first half of 2021, compared to the same period last year. In addition, Canadian dealmakers are broadening their reach to access larger markets in the U.S. and worldwide, with the total value of Canadian outbound M&A already surpassing 2020 levels. Whistleblower program fields 650 tips in five years The Ontario Securities Commission's Whistleblower

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