See You in 2014!
See you in mid-January 2014.
Happy New Year, Bonne Année.
Legal research news from an Ottawa law librarian
Labels: Supreme Court of Canada
Labels: Supreme Court of Canada
" 'When a person suffers damages or a monetary loss at the hands of more than one wrongdoer, often the quickest and simplest way to deal with the dispute is to settle with some of the wrongdoers,' explained BCLI chair Tino Di Bella. 'But the way the law is being applied in BC creates disincentives to these partial settlements, by depriving the settling wrongdoers of the finality traditionally found in a settlement agreement.' "
"The report, entitled Report on Contribution after Settlement under the Negligence Act, recommends that the legislature amend the Negligence Act to clarify that statutory rights to contribution and indemnity among wrongdoers do not take precedence over settlement agreements."
"Noted Mr. Di Bella: 'Enacting these reforms will improve the civil-justice system for litigants, by giving them an exit from protracted, complex litigation, and British Columbians generally, by freeing up scarce and valuable judicial resources'. "In addition to the report, the website includes consultation documents and backgrounders.
"(...) decisions are being made regarding whether materials will be maintained as ongoing current subscriptions, discontinued but kept, or discarded, based on the holdings of other institutions. Private law libraries look to courthouse libraries, courthouse libraries look to university libraries, university libraries look to each other, and everyone looks to the Supreme Court of Canada Library. The problem is that it seems budgetary pressures are being felt at all levels of the chain, and these decisions are being made without consultation."
"How would you describe your job to other people?"The Law Library of Congress is the world’s largest law library, with a collection of over 2.65 million volumes from all ages of history and virtually every jurisdiction in the world.
I have the privilege of managing an incredible group of individuals who are responsible for maintaining and making accessible the world’s largest legal collection. While digital items present some unique challenges, I prefer to view the law collection holistically and not draw distinctions based on format. I look forward to working with colleagues within the Law Library and across the institution to figure out how to integrate the analog and digital materials in our collection (...)"
"What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library?
Even though others have mentioned it, I still find it interesting that more than half of our collection is in languages other than English."
"Looking ahead, the dynamic nature of the work we do as Legal Information Professionals will probably be reflected in the changing composition of our groups. At Lawson Lundell, an innovative, team approach is described in the advertisement for a new position, Manager of Information Resources. And, in 2014, my group will welcome the firm’s Conflict and Audit Coordinators as we become more involved in the life cycle of information within the firm, from new business intake to closed file management, and everything in between."
"Currently there is no data on the number of visible minority librarians working in Canadian libraries. The Visible Minority Librarians of Canada (ViMLoC) Network wants to gather statistics on the number of visible minority librarians working in or for Canadian Libraries. The results of this survey will serve as foundational data that will help ViMLoC identify the needs of visible minority librarians and propose projects or initiatives to empower them in their current positions or their future career development initiatives."
"Persons with disabilities tend to experience a lower standard of living than other Canadians due to factors such as barriers in the labour force and unmet needs for supports. The RDSP is a savings vehicle created by the federal government to assist persons with disabilities with long-term financial security. Financial institutions offer RDSPs to eligible members of the public. Beneficiaries and their family and friends can make private contributions to an RDSP. Beneficiaries can also receive government grants to match contributions and those with a low income may be eligible for government bonds."
"The RDSP has distinctive policy objectives that include poverty alleviation, encouraging self-sufficiency and promoting the active involvement of persons with disabilities in making decisions that affect them. Under the Income Tax Act (ITA), adults can establish an RDSP for themselves and decide the plan terms as the'plan holder' The ITA provides that where an adult is not 'contractually competent to enter into a disability savings plan' with a financial institution, another 'qualifying person' must act as a plan holder on his or her behalf."
"A financial institution may decline to enter into an RDSP arrangement with a beneficiary who does not meet the common law test of capacity to enter into a contract. An adult or another interested person, such as a family member, may also believe that an adult has diminished capacity and wish to appoint a qualifying person before approaching a financial institution."
"However, adults and their families have expressed concerns to the federal government with respect to provincial and territorial laws that govern how a qualifying person can be appointed. Many of these laws require that an adult be declared legally incapable and receive assistance from a guardian. This process can be expensive, time consuming and have significant repercussions for an adult’s well-being (...)"
"The purpose of this discussion paper is to synthesize the results of our preliminary research and consultations, and to identify several options for reform. Responses that we receive to this discussion paper will be considered for a Final Report with detailed recommendations."
"The discussion paper identifies nine options for reform. The options draw on our review of Ontario’s framework under the SDA [Substitute Decisions Act, 1992] as well as other laws in Canada and abroad. They incorporate elements of existing laws that could meet evaluative criteria – or benchmarks – that the LCO has developed. We propose that an effective alternative process for Ontario would meet the following benchmarks:The Commission is looking for feedback from members of the public, including persons with disabilities, service providers, policy-makers, lawyers and advocates until Friday, February 28, 2014. The Final Report is anticipated to be released in spring 2014.
- Responds to Individual Needs for RDSP Decision-MakingPromotes Meaningful Inclusion in the Decision-Making Process
- Ensures that Necessary Protections for RDSP Beneficiaries are in Place
- Achieves Administrative Feasibility, Cost-Effectiveness and Ease of Use
- Provides Certainty to Legal Representatives and Third Parties"
"The Report examines two specific issues concerning the current law of domestic violence."The report examines the situation in a number of other jurisdictions, including England and Wales, Canada and Australia,
1. Bail law and domestic violence cases
"The first issue dealt with in the Report is whether current bail law as it applies to domestic violence cases should be retained or reformed. In particular, the question raised is whether, when a person is charged under the Domestic Violence Act 1996 with breaching a barring order or safety order, should it be made possible to refuse bail on the basis that the person might commit another offence while on bail. This is called refusing bail for preventative reasons. The Constitution allows bail to be refused on this ground if a person is charged with a 'serious offence' and where it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent the commission of another serious offence by that person while on bail. The Bail Act 1997 defines a 'serious offence' as an offence that must carry at least 5 years imprisonment on conviction and which is also specifically listed in the Bail Act 1997 itself. The offence of breach of a domestic violence order currently carries a maximum sentence of 12 months imprisonment. The Report discusses whether the law should be reformed to make it a serious offence."
"The Report recommends that the current law should be retained and that the offence of breach of a domestic violence order should not be changed into an offence that could carry 5 years imprisonment on conviction. Among the reasons listed in the Report for this conclusion is that such a change would not be in keeping with the general purpose of the Domestic Violence Act 1996, which is to ensure that victims of domestic violence can get access to effective protection through barring orders and safety orders. This could be put at risk if breach of an order was made a very serious criminal offence. The Commission’s Report also notes that the current law on bail allows a court to impose conditions that prohibit a person from making contact with the person who has applied for a barring order or safety order and that if the accused breaks any such condition their bail can be revoked. The Commission also recommends that there should continue to be a clear policy of prosecuting not only breaches of barring orders and safety orders but also that if this is accompanied by an underlying serious offence, such as assault causing harm or harassment, this should be prosecuted also."
2. Harassment law and domestic violence
"The second issue discussed in the Report is whether the offence of harassment in the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997 addresses sufficiently the problem of stalking in domestic violence cases. The Report notes that most prosecutions for harassment involve domestic cases, and usually involves stalking by former spouses and partners. The current law requires that the harassment must involve “following, watching, pestering, besetting or communicating” and must be done “persistently.” The Commission’s Report points out that the requirement of “persistence” means that a person can be convicted of harassment where stalking involves a single long episode of continuous following or pestering. By contrast, under English law the harassment or stalking must involve at least two separate types of conduct. The Report concludes that the current requirements in the 1997 Act impose appropriate legal thresholds and standards that should be met in order to convict a person of stalking. The Report also notes that some emerging types of unacceptable behaviour, such as the use of social media to post fake or misleading information, may not come within the current law on harassment. The Commission concludes that this and other forms of cyber-bullying should be examined as part of the project on that topic in its new Fourth Programme of Law Reform, which was launched last week by the Attorney General."
[from the press release]
"Since 1892, the Minister of Justice has had the power, in one form or another, to review a criminal conviction under federal law to determine whether there may have been a miscarriage of justice. The current regime is set out in section 696.1 – 696.6 of the Criminal Code."
"The conviction review process begins when a person submits an 'application for ministerial review (miscarriages of justice),' also known as a conviction review application. "
"The application for ministerial review must be supported by new matters of significance — usually important new information or evidence that was not previously considered by the courts. If the Minister is satisfied that those matters provide a reasonable basis to conclude that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred, the Minister may grant the convicted person a remedy and return the case to the courts — either referring the case to a court of appeal to be heard as a new appeal or directing that a new trial be held. The Minister may also refer a question to the court of appeal in the appropriate province (...) "
"Under section 696.5 of the Criminal Code, the Minister of Justice is required to submit an annual report to Parliament regarding applications for ministerial review (miscarriages of justice) within six months of the end of the fiscal year. This is the 11th annual report, and it covers the period from April 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013. Under the Regulations Respecting Applications for Ministerial Review — Miscarriages of Justice (the Regulations), the report must address the following matters:
The Weekly Checklist includes a listing of titles made available by the Parliament of Canada, federal departments, and Statistics Canada to the Depository Services Program for distribution to a network of Depository Libraries in Canada and abroad.
- the number of applications for ministerial review made to the Minister; the number of applications that have been abandoned or that are incomplete; the number of applications that are at the preliminary assessment stage; the number of applications that are at the investigation stage; the number of decisions that the Minister has made; and any other information that the Minister considers appropriate."