From Civil Justice

Bénigne Gagneraux: Den blinde Oidipus anbefaller sin familj åt gudarna.
NM 828

Drama and Irony in a Canadian Courtroom?

With the nation riveted to news reports from a fraud, breach of trust and bribery trial in an Ottawa courtroom, Canada reaches a milestone in its legal history.  Behold, Canadians as mass spectators of our justice system “get” the role of dramatic irony, the narrative device used by playwrights to exploit the discrepancy between audience knowledge…

Pleading the Blues in Franglais, before Ontario Courts

It took a week, but the court finally accepted their own prescribed form. Last week, I launched a motion on behalf of a francophone client. The bilingual registrar at the court house refused to accept the Notice of Motion because it did not employ a literal translation of the English text of the rule and court form. When my court clerk relayed my advice that the Notice employed the French version of the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure, as well as the corresponding court form, the registrar still rejected it. Only after arming the clerk with the form from the Attorney General’s own website,…

Is belief in law logical?

Many years ago, I agreed to act for an elder of the Celestial Church of Christ, a religious order based in Nigeria.  A member of his congregation had asked him to be a “character reference” on a bank loan.  It turned out to be a guarantee on a sub-prime mortgage.  To make a long story short, my client ended up on the hook for an amount equivalent to twice his annual gross family income, and he had an aggressive creditor after the mortgage company sold the debt on.  By the time he arrived in my office, the congregant had defaulted,…

Inside the life of a reserved summary judgment

Some welcome editorial comments this week from Justice D. M. Brown, of the Superior Court of Ontario, in Western Larch Limited v. Di Poce Management Limited, 2012 ONSC 7014. Starting at para. 269 of the decision, the judge candidly describes the disproportionate time required to make rulings on complex summary judgment motions. In a nutshell, he takes aim at one area of judicial allocation, judgment writing time. He says the internal scheduling protocols should be updated to reflect the time needed to deal with summary judgments, which may take up little hearing time but deal with issues as complex as…

Rethinking Lord Denning, M.R. – A newcomer’s perspective

Lord Denning’s decision in the “cricket balls” case of Miller v. Jackson, [1977] Q.B. 966 (C.A.), is required reading for every first year law student.  Read it again, now that you’re called to the bar, and see how the great judge weaves the xenophobic values of an island nation into the common law.  The judgment is the greatest legal teaching tool, and a dangerous introduction to the law.  Depending on the law teacher, it is either the beginning of modern Common Law discourse or an amusing example of judicial arrogance.  Denning remains on a pedestal for lawyers of prior generations.  In his…

OBA’s ALERT Charity provides public with Access to Justice Videos

ALERT is the Ontario Bar Association’s charity devoted to public legal education.  It has developed an impressive bank of videos aimed mainly at the public, to describe the role of lawyers and the justice system, as well as explanatory how-to guides to court procedures.  Link to the ALERT page here, and to the video site here.   Terms of use / Mentions légales

Civil Justice Reform Project

I had the privilege of working with Peter Henderson and other OBA members on our Ontario Civil Justice Reform Project Working Group.  Our recommendations have helped shape reforms to civil justice in Ontario.  See the preliminary report to the OBA Civil Litigation Section here: civjanweb08 Terms of use / Mentions légales

Uniform Law Conference of Canada

In August, 2008 and 2009, I was the Ontario Bar Association delegate to the Uniform Law Conference of Canada.  The photo is from 2009 in Ottawa, in front of the Supreme Court of Canada.  Click here for my report to the OBA Civil Litigation Section: CIV_Sept08   Terms of use / Mentions légales

Medical Malpractice in Crisis

Click on the link to read my article, “Medical Malpractice in Crisis”  (February, 1999), 21 The Advocates’ Quarterly 163 21AdvocQ163.  Should doctors receive unlimited publicly-funded legal aid defence and liability funding?  Why not lawyers?  Or anyone else? Terms of use / Mentions légales