CBA-FLSC Ethics Forum 2019

The Forum will be held from 9am to 4:30pm on March 1, 2019 at Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto.  The Forum is an annual discussion between lawyers, academics and regulators who are interested in legal ethics and professional services regulation.  Registration information is available here.

This year the Forum will focus on four topics: modernizing legal regulation, current issues in judicial ethics, entrepreneurial ideas for improving access to justice, and obligations to unrepresented and self-represented parties.

Speakers include Chief Justice Robert Bauman, Dean Adam Dodek, Lisa Eisen, Irwin Fefergrad, Gillian Hadfield, Jacqueline Horvat, Lena Koke, Taryn McCormick, Andrew Pilliar, Darrel Pink, Jennifer Pink, Stephen Pitel, Amy Salyzyn, Darcia Senft, Associate Chief Justice Deborah Smith, Justice Lorne Sossin and David Swayze.  The Forum is co-chaired by LSO Treasurer Malcolm Mercer and CALE Vice-President Amy Salyzyn.

CALE 2018 Annual Meeting of Members

On October 27, 2018 CALE held its annual meeting of members at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, in conjunction with its annual conference.  The meeting elected CALE’s directors and appointed its officers for 2018-19, including appointing Professor Alice Woolley for another term as President.  The current directors and officers are indicated on CALE’s website.

Approved minutes for the 2017 annual meeting of members (and for prior years) are available on CALE’s website. 

Report on the 2018 CALE Annual Conference

On October 25-27, 2018 the Annual CALE Conference was hosted by Osgoode Hall Law School at York University.  It was also supported by the Law Society of Ontario, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, LawPRO and McCarthy Tetrault. 

The conference featured two sessions on research in progress, two sessions on developments in the teaching of legal ethics, a session on the issues technology raises for regulation of the provision of legal services and a session on judicial ethics.

Congratulations are due to conference coordinator Professor Trevor Farrow and his team at Osgoode.  In addition to its stimulating sessions, the conference featured some great social events including dinner at the Law Society of Ontario hosted by Treasurer Malcolm Mercer.  The conference was also an opportunity for many attendees to take their first subway trip from downtown Toronto to York University.

Two Legal Ethics Professors Appointed as Judges

CALE warmly congratulates Professor Alice Woolley and Professor Lorne Sossin on their recent appointments as judges.  Justice Woolley serves on the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench and Justice Sossin serves on the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.  Justice Sossin recently was the Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and Justice Woolley was, at the time of her appointment, the President of CALE.  She had also served as ethics advisor to the City of Calgary.  See the Canadian Lawyer coverage of both appointments here and here.

Ontario Judicial Council Decision Regarding Justice Donald McLeod

In December 2018 the Ontario Judicial Council released its Reasons for Decision (available here) regarding a complaint against Justice Donald McLeod (of the Ontario Court of Justice).  The conduct in question involved his role as Chair of the Interim Steering Committee of the Federation of Black Canadians.  The Reasons found that Justice McLeod’s conduct was “incompatible with judicial office” (para 92) but that public confidence in his ability to serve as a judge or in the judiciary generally had not been undermined as a result (para 94).  Accordingly, the complaint against Justice McLeod was dismissed.

A Salyzyn: Bully Lawyers & Shoplifting Civil Recovery Letters: Who’s Going to Stop Them?

Posted to SLAW on April 1, 2015

For roughly 30 years, some Canadian lawyers have been engaging in a practice that other Canadian lawyers have vociferously criticized as “extortion with letterhead,” “bullying and intimidation”, a “predatory practice” and “an example of legal strong-arming.” Members of the public have also chimed in, characterizing the practice as “morally wrong” and “like being stabbed in the back”.

The practice at issue is the sending of shoplifting demand letters. In short, this involves lawyers acting for retailers sending letters to alleged shoplifters and/or their parents demanding the payment of money.

To take one example reported in the media, in 2004, one mother received a letter from a lawyer for a retailer four months after her daughter was caught trying to steal lip gloss. The letter “demand[ed] [the mother] pay $379 to help defray the cost of shoplifting or face the consequences, threatening a civil lawsuit for as much as $900.” To take another, more recent, example, in 2012, an eighteen year old paid $610 in response to a demand letter after she was caught stealing just over six dollars in cosmetics.

For the rest of the story

Commentary: New Brunswick Real Estate Association v. Estabrooks, 2014 NBCA 48

By Stewart McKelvey

http://canliiconnects.org/en/summaries/29119

Conclusion:

“The majority decision in Estabrooks will be a good precedent for professional regulatory bodies sued for malicious prosecution based on disciplinary proceedings that turned out to be unfounded – and for counsel and litigants urging a cautious approach to the expansion of any contested tort. But as the dissent points out, there is now a conflict in the Canadian case law on malicious prosecution. It might take a trip to the Supreme Court of Canada to settle the dispute.”

 

R Mendleson and R Brennan, Judging of judges should be public: Opposition critics

 Critics at Queen’s Park are calling on the province to lift the veil of secrecy that keeps the public in the dark about investigations into complaints against judges.

“There is something suspicious about the whole process when there isn’t even a report put out to the public,” interim Progressive Conservative Leader Jim Wilson said Monday. “I think the government should be held accountable.”

Wilson’s comments come after a Star investigation into a complaint against a Toronto judge who had been repeatedly admonished, and the system that keeps the vast majority of such complaints under lock and key.

Confidential documents, provided to the Star by an unknown source, detailed how the complaint was handled in secret, and the case closed.

According to the Ontario Judicial Council, which probes complaints against judges, there is a “general order,” permitted under Ontario law, banning the publication of any documents and information relating to complaints that don’t result in a public hearing.

The rest of the Toronto Star story HERE

Contract on toilet paper slammed by Saskatchewan Law Society

Lawyer was unhappy with being asked to furnish a retainer agreement

CBC News Posted: Jun 24, 2014 5:30 AM CT Last Updated: Jun 24, 2014 5:30 AM CT

A Saskatchewan lawyer who submitted a piece of toilet paper as proof of a contract with his client has been sharply rebuked by the province’s law society.

In a decision recently published to an online legal database, Ron Cherkewich, from Prince Albert, Sask., has been ordered to pay a fine and investigative costs totaling $10,500 for the ill-advised stunt, which the law society said amounted to conduct unbecoming a lawyer.

According to the decision, Cherkewich’s behaviour — described as “rude and provocative” — took place in 2011 while he was representing a client who had filed a claim under Canada’s Indian Residential Schools Settlement agreement.

The full story

Toronto Star: Broken Trust: Two Faces of Justice

Posted to the Toronto Star website

Former lawyer Lawrence Burns runs a North Toronto restaurant. He is also a disbarred lawyer found to have taken close to half a million dollars from his clients. Burns, like many lawyers caught with his hand in a trust account, escaped criminal prosecution. A Toronto Star investigation found most Canadian law societies report members to police. The Law Society of Upper Canada does not.

They treat client trust accounts as their personal piggy banks, facilitate multi-million-dollar frauds and drain retirement savings of the elderly.

While most lawyers caught stealing from their clients are reprimanded, suspended or disbarred by the profession’s regulator, the vast majority avoid criminal charges, a Star investigation reveals.

The Star found that more than 230 lawyers sanctioned for criminal-like activity by the Law Society of Upper Canada in the last decade, stole, defrauded or diverted some $61 million held in trust funds for clients.

Fewer than one in five were charged criminally. Most avoided jail.

“I truly believe there are two laws — a set of rules and regulations for lawyers and a different set for everyone else,” said Richard Bikowski, who was fleeced out of $87,500 by now-disbarred Toronto lawyer Lawrence Burns.

Unlike the law societies in most other provinces, the Law Society of Upper Canada does not, as a rule, report suspected criminal acts by its members to police, no matter how much money lawyers steal.

For the full story, go to the Toronto Star website