In search of an evidence-based test for judicial bias

The Canadian principle of judicial bias has remained static for the four decades since the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Committee for Justice v. The National Energy Board.  The Supreme Court’s description of bias is rooted in the 20th-century jurist’s “reasonable man” mythos and emergent mid-century theories about the mind: … the apprehension of… Read More

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… Read More

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.… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More

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