The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association
Transportation

How should regulators approach the consumer risks of cryptocurrency investing?

By Agnese Smith October 1, 2018 1 October 2018

How should regulators approach the consumer risks of cryptocurrency investing?

 

Canadian consumers need to “exercise caution” when engaging with the unregulated world of cryptocurrencies. Policymakers, meanwhile, should step up their efforts at monitoring these new assets, and educating the public about their risks. 

These are the conclusions of Ottawa-based non-profit Public Interest Advocacy Centre, echoing similar warnings from some of the world’s most respected voices, including Nobel prize winners, central bankers, and even comedians.

Cryptocurrencies “are just not ready for prime time yet,” particularly for your average Canadian, said John Lawford, PIAC executive director, in a telephone interview.  “There are just too many weaknesses,” including security breaches, lack of consumer redress, not to mention the colossal waste of energy that the current systems require. In its latest report, Assessing the Emergence of "Alternative" Currencies and Legal Risk: the Consumer's Perspective, PIAC called for the creation of “a working group of key stakeholders to review the risks to consumers.”

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The practice

Turn and face the strange: Don’t be afraid of changes

By Kim Covert September 28, 2018 28 September 2018

Turn and face the strange: Don’t be afraid of changes

 

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Lawyers, they say, are averse to change.

OK, so that’s old news. Some of us adapt better to a shifting environment than others, and the lawyer, by personality and by training, is generally slower to embrace change.

But is this rule hard and fast, or are there ways to adapt oneself to the need to adapt?

Wendy Law, Deputy Solicitor for the City of Mississauga, thinks so, suggesting that you adapt to change the same way you get to Carnegie Hall – practice, practice, practice!

 “If the user doesn’t adapt to change, then the change fails,” she said during a session titled “Rise of the Artisan: Critical thinking in a world of machines” at the 2018 CCCA conference in Toronto. “How do you develop a feeling for change? Have a lot of changes. People get used to the fact that it’s not going to be the same anyway, so let’s not resist.”

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CBA influence

Joint Tax Committee’s thoughts on 2018 tax proposals

By Kim Covert September 28, 2018 28 September 2018

 

In July, the government proposed amendments to the Income Tax Act to implement parts of the 2018 federal budget for both personal and business tax.

The Joint Committee on Taxation of the Canadian Bar Association and Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada commented on the proposed amendments in September.

In the 2018 budget the federal government announced its intention to impose a new filing obligation on certain trusts that would require the trusts to report the identity of all trustees, beneficiaries and settlors of the trust, and each person who has the ability to exert control over trustee decisions. Exceptions included lawyers’ general trust accounts.

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Privacy

AggregateIQ: first Canadian company to get notice for a GDPR violation

By Julie Sobowale September 27, 2018 27 September 2018

AggregateIQ: first Canadian company to get notice for a GDPR violation

 

It didn’t take too long for GDPR make a major impact in Canada. AggregateIQ (AIQ), a Victoria-based Canadian digital advertising, web and software firm, is the first company in Canada to receive an enforcement notice under the new European Union General Protection (GDPR) regulations. The United Kingdom Information Commissioner’s Office (the ICO) issued its first extraterritorial enforcement notice under GDPR to AIQ.

The notice requires the company to, “cease processing any personal data of U.S. or E.U. citizens obtained from U.K. political organizations or otherwise for the purposes of data analytics, political campaigning or any other advertising purposes.” This order relates to AIQ’s involvement in the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which Facebook’s user data was used by Cambridge Analytica to help influence the 2016 Brexit referendum. The ICO released its report, “Investigation into the use of data analytics in political campaigns,” in July 2018, stating that AIQ had access to UK voters’ personal data. AIQ denies any involvement with Cambridge Analytica.

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Corporate counsel

A changemaker to watch

By Lynne Yryku September 27, 2018 27 September 2018

A changemaker to watch

 

“It is one of the best areas for lawyers to work in,” says Addison Cameron-Huff in his clear, measured tone when asked about working in an environment where the rules are still being formed. “There's an interesting moment and challenge every single day.”

As President of Decentral Inc., Cameron-Huff is the epitome of agile and adaptable. In this new and emerging world of cryptocurrencies and blockchain, he is one of the select people helping to shape the legal landscape—without textbooks or case law to rely on.

A large part of his role involves “judging where things are headed and preparing the company to deal with them, which in this space is a bigger issue than in most.” He explains, “[The people in government] want to do a good job and they look to industry to know what ‘doing a good job’ means. So my role gets to impact the legislation and regulations in Canada primarily but in the United States a little bit, which is very unique for such a small company.”

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Immigration

Understanding the dangers of genetic testing in immigration

By Gabriel Marrocco and Yann Joly September 27, 2018 27 September 2018

Understanding the dangers of genetic testing in immigration

Genetic testing is used increasingly in areas that extend well beyond the field of medicine. One of them is immigration. Since the 1990s, Canadian immigration agents have used genetic test results from family reunification applicants to confirm their biological relationships. There have also been recent media reports that Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers have used private ancestry genetic testing companies to find additional information pertaining to the ancestry of detained individuals scheduled for deportation. Based on reports from other countries, genetic tests could also be used to determine the precise age of immigrants, or establish if someone is affected by, or more likely to develop, specific diseases that would cause excessive demand on a country’s health services.

What is concerning is that there are few legal constraints on genetic testing in immigration despite the potential for misuse and the associated ethical, legal and social issues.

The regulations and laws applicable to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the CBSA do not specifically address the processing of genetic information. In IRCC’s sector of activity, immigration officers fall back on default provisions on the examination process of foreign nationals, which state that applicants must provide “any relevant information that immigration officers reasonably require”, to guide their use of genetic testing. The only clear limit is found in IRCC’s administrative guidelines for family reunification and citizenship applications. It limits such tests to measures of ‘last resort’. This sort of broad framework leaves too much room for error and arbitrary decision-making, and is not conducive to responsible or efficient use of genetic testing.

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CBA Futures

Legal Futures round-up

By Yves Faguy September 26, 2018 26 September 2018

Legal Futures round-up

 

Raising capital is the main storyline in this latest round-up.

Earlier this month, Toronto-based Kira Systems raised CAD 65 millionD ($50 million US) granting a minority stake to New York City-based Insight Venture Partners. Kira Systems uses AI-powered technology to review and analyze large volumes of contracts. Noting that the company mushroomed from 35 to 115 employees since January 2017, CEO and co-founder Noah Waisberg told Betakit that the company’s “hope is to continue to grow quickly and we’d like to do so more gracefully.”

Not to be outdone, Francisco-based Atrium, a tech company that delivers legal services, has raised $65 million US. Atrium is a full-service corporate law firm that relies on technology to build automated legal tools, while lawyers focus on higher-end work. Atrium’s founder Justin Kan also announced that his company was acquiring Tetra, which uses artificial intelligence to take automatic notes on phone calls.

Rocket Lawyer is partnering with ConsenSys, the world’s leading Ethereum blockchain technology company, and its startup, OpenLaw, to launch Rocket Wallet, a secure legal contract payments tool.

Meanwhile, consumer legal platform LegalZoom is partnering with Clause, a New York-based provider of smart legal contracting technology, to offer smart contract services to the general public and small businesses. In case you missed it, LegalZoom announced in July $500 million US Investment, which put the company at a $2-billion valuation.

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CBA influence

Omnibus Bill C-75 attracts wide-ranging response from CBA

By Kim Covert September 25, 2018 25 September 2018

 

As is perhaps fitting for omnibus legislation, the CBA Criminal Justice Section’s response to Bill C-75 ranges from “Absolutely!” to “Absolutely not!” and hits “yes,” “no,” and “maybe, if” a number of times in between.

The bill, which represents the federal government’s response to R v Jordan, deals with court delays (as well as reforms unrelated to court delays, such as intimate partner violence), and includes proposals which would “exacerbate, rather than alleviate, court delays, while simultaneously sacrificing important procedural protections.”

Tony Paisana and Kathryn Pentz appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights on Sept. 19 in support of the CBA submission.

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Workplace

Owed no duty of care

By Alexander Gay September 24, 2018 24 September 2018

Owed no duty of care

There was a time when a public servant, who could count on employment for life, was expected to endure public criticism, while remaining silent and faithful to his or her political masters.  There was a good reason for this. Reputational interest is of little value to someone who enjoys guaranteed employment for life. 

However, that is all changing. A guaranteed life career as a public servant is not what it used to be. Pension benefits that once supported a career in public service are far less accessible, as the public service across Canada tries to align itself with the private sector.  

What’s more worrying is that government employers can now argue that they owe no duty to protect the reputational interests of its public servants accused of misconduct.  A recent decision from the UK Supreme Court illustrates how.

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The Charter

Ontario Court of Appeal grants stay for Bill 5 ruling

By Justin Ling September 19, 2018 19 September 2018

Ontario Court of Appeal grants stay for Bill 5 ruling

The high-paced legal drama around Doug Ford’s decision to slash the size of Toronto city council mid-election will end, not with a notwithstanding clause, but with a stay.

The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled to set aside the lower court ruling on the matter.

On July 30, the Ontario legislature gave first reading to Bill 5, which would reduce the number of seats on Toronto city council from 47 to 25, and axe regional municipal bodies elsewhere in the province. The bill received royal assent just over two weeks later.

All this, even though the election period had already begun, under the 47 ward council, on May 1.

Council candidates mounted a constitutional challenge shortly after, arguing that Bill 5 breached their constitutional rights and those of electors.

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Insolvency

The challenges of managing insolvency in the IT sector

By Fiona Morrow September 19, 2018 19 September 2018

The challenges of managing insolvency in the IT sector

 

If a company’s assets consist primarily of ideas, securing funding to keep the development of that idea going forward through an insolvency process can be a real challenge.

That’s because everything that is exciting about new technology becomes part of the problem when an IT company goes into receivership before its product has been fully developed. How do you value an asset that doesn’t exist yet, is highly sensitive to competition, international in scope, and has a high financial burn rate?

“It requires a great deal of confidence in the future product. You don’t see a lot of people rushing forward,” said Lance Williams of Cassels, Brock & Blackwell LLP at the CBA Insolvency Law Conference in Vancouver on Sept. 14. “The key question for financers is: how much do you want to spend, and is it worth spending it?”

The particular difficulties of managing insolvency in the IT sector was the topic of a panel discussion that included Williams, Kathryn Esaw (Stikeman Elliott LLP), Jeff Keeble (Deloitte Restructuring Inc.), and moderator Tevia Jeffries (Dentons Canada LLP).

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Environment law

Could a new NAFTA really promote better enforcement of environmental laws?

By Supriya Tandan September 19, 2018 19 September 2018

Could a new NAFTA really promote better enforcement of environmental laws?

 

As NAFTA negotiations have moved from deadline to deadline, the Canadian government has so far maintained its position that wants to include environment and climate provisions in an updated trade deal.

The question is they could ever be meaningfully enforced.

Both Canada and the U.S. agree that provisions on the environment should be addressed in the main body of the new trade deal, instead of in a side accord as they currently are. As things stand today, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), created under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), handles environmental issues raised under NAFTA. It receives complaints from the public where they suspect a lack of environmental law enforcement.

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