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Legal headlines April 27, 2015

By National April 27, 2015 27 April 2015

Here is a roundup of today’s legal headlines:

Mike Duffy trial: Suspended senator's lawyer to keep grilling Senate finance official

Woman with cerebral palsy loses Quebec's help because mom saved for her future

Complex income tax system costing Canadians: study

Doctor-assisted dying law: Promised federal consultation hasn't materialized

Canadian Frank Giustra's partnership with Clinton Foundation under scrutiny

Canada needs new policies to meet emissions reduction goal, Harper says

Shell lobbied to undermine EU renewables targets, documents reveal

U.S. to make climate change a priority for Arctic Council

Parents spend millions battling in court over child’s sleepovers

Nevada prison guards accused of setting up deadly gladiator-style brawls

Russian hackers accessed some of Barack Obama’s emails, senior officials say

Union says federal agency lent Volkswagen $526 million to expand in U.S., Mexico

Top U.S. court appears on cusp of declaring right to gay marriage

Barclays must face U.S. fraud lawsuit tied to 'dark pool' probe

San Francisco law firms look set to pay disputed partnership tax

Ireland considers introducing pre-nups as demand from farmers rises

UK's big four banks face extra £19bn in fines, analysts predict

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Earth Day

Taking legal action to fight climate change

By National April 23, 2015 23 April 2015

To mark Earth Day, Martin Olszynski reminds Canadians that our environmental laws are mostly designed around our governments’ discretionary decision-making powers rather than preventing actual harm in accordance with the Precautionary Principle.  Keeping track of those decisions, he says, is no easy task for environmental groups:

Perhaps the most important practical effect of the environmental law-as-decision-making process paradigm is that each day, permit-by-permit, authorization-by-authorization, Canada’s environment is being degraded. The extent of this degradation depends on the actual decisions made. Some decisions will fall within the range established by the relevant guideposts; many do not (this is the stuff of the vast majority of environmental litigation). Differentiating between these two requires effort. Some statutes provide for public notice to be given when a decision is made (e.g. the Water Act, SARA, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, SC 2012 c 19 s 52), but others do not (e.g. the Fisheries Act). And while it is tempting to suggest that the latter should simply be amended to require such notice (they should be), this ignores the fact that Canadians are arguably already drowning in information.

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Article

Faster, cheaper, simpler

By Leo Singer April 23, 2015 23 April 2015

Faster, cheaper, simpler

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CCCA National Conference

A new way of working at Canada’s biggest law firm

By Kim Covert April 23, 2015 23 April 2015

Fair or not, innovation isn’t exactly the first word that comes to mind when you think of the federal bureaucracy.

Deputy Justice Minister William Pentney wants to change that, at least for his corner of the civil service, which just happens to be what he calls the biggest law firm in Canada.

Like any litigation firm or in-house legal department, the Justice Department is hearing a lot of grumbling from its clients about the cost of legal work – in any given year the department bills about $250-million in legal fees, which other federal departments and agencies must pay.

And it’s not just a question of money – Pentney told a lunchtime crowd at the 2015 CCCA national conference that every law firm has people doing work that is “mind-smackingly stupid.” Not the work itself—things  like document review are part of the job—but often people are left doing the kind of “mindless, tedious and boring” work that doesn’t require a partner or an associate —or even a human being – to do properly.

We have to ask, he says, is it necessary for these people to do this work this way, or is there a better way of doing things?

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News

Legal headlines April 23, 2015

By National April 23, 2015 23 April 2015

Here is a roundup of today’s legal headlines:

Vancouver sprouting tougher rules for fast-growing medical pot stores

Oskar Groening, former Auschwitz guard, describes camp in chilling detail at trial

Duffy decision to declare principal home in P.E.I. was no accident, court told

David Petraeus, former CIA director, to be sentenced for leaking military secrets

Analysis: Europe’s moral quandary – the migrants who risk all for freedom

Loretta Saunders murder trial almost derailed by Twitter

Foreigners to undergo prescreening measures before flying to Canada

Former Iowa politician found not guilty of raping wife who suffered from Alzheimer’s

Critics worry about threat to artistic freedom with copyright law change in federal budget

Corporate Canada wins one in the battle for securities class actions

Clinton family charities misstate millions in revenue

Deutsche Bank fined $2.5 bln in rate rigging probe

Brazil's indigenous groups fight to keep their land in face of new law

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Article

Out of the Office: Eric Lay, Calling the shots!

By National April 22, 2015 22 April 2015

Out of the Office: Eric Lay, Calling the shots!

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Article

I love technology — but there’s a limit

By Douglas Mah April 22, 2015 22 April 2015

I love technology — but there’s a limit

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Article

Is newer better? Not always.

By Katya Hodge April 22, 2015 22 April 2015

Is newer better? Not always.

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Article

Beyond the firewall

By Pablo Fuchs April 22, 2015 22 April 2015

Beyond the firewall

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Article

Put technology to work for you

By Julie Sobowale April 22, 2015 22 April 2015

Put technology to work for you

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2015 Budget

Budget 2015: Little for rising justice costs

By Justin Ling April 21, 2015 21 April 2015

Tuesday’s federal budget has very little in store for Canada’s justice system.

The long-awaited unveiling of the Harper Government’s pre-election spending plan contains a sizeable pot of money for defence, security and the border, but very little to address the pressures being put on Canada’s courts to process the increasing number of litigants.

The budget, lacking big funding announcements of years prior, contain slights changes that could impact copyright, environmental, and criminal law matters.

But the only funding Canada’s courts will see is a new commitment of $27 million over five years to increase security at the country’s legal buildings.

“To ensure Canada’s judicial system continues to function optimally, judges, litigants, lawyers and the public must be safe and secure. That is why the Government is proposing to invest in key enhancements in physical and IT security at federal courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada, registry offices and administrative buildings across Canada,” the budget plan reads.

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Q&A

Interview with Irwin Cotler

By Yves Faguy April 21, 2015 21 April 2015

Interview with Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler is leaving the House of Commons at the end of his term but he isn’t quitting his day job fighting for the rights of political prisoners.  National recently sat down with the Liberal MP and former minister of justice to discuss a range of topics for our upcoming print issue.  Below is an excerpt, in which we discussed his human rights work defending, among others, Venezuelan politician Leopoldo López, Iranian senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein Boroujerdi, who advocates the separation of religion and government and imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.

National: You're not running again in the upcoming federal election. How do you feel about this chapter of your life coming to a close? 

Irwin Cotler: At this point I'm one of the oldest members in the House of Commons, if not the eldest, and I sort of felt the time had come, to use that cliché, for the torch to be passed to a younger generation.  I will continue to be active on all the issues that I have been engaged in, including defence of political prisoners. I just will be doing it from outside the Parliamentary arena rather than within.

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