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Pro Bono Law Ontario closing Law Help Centres
Youth Criminal Justice
TLA continues to advocate against the planned move of Youth Court to the new OCJ Court House on Centre Avenue. TLA Director, Robin McKechney is quoted in the October 29th Toronto Star speaking on behalf of TLA.
“The fact that they are combined in other parts of the city and other parts of Ontario doesn’t mean that that’s the right thing to do,” said lawyer Robin McKechney, a member of the board of directors of the Toronto Lawyers Association. “311 Jarvis, first of all, has the potential to accommodate the other youth satellite courts (in the city), and even if the decision was made not to combine the youth court in one spot, closing this facility, which is quite frankly known around the country and the continent for its programs, is short-sighted.”
TLA Response to the Options for Lawyer Licensing - Consultation Paper
The TLA continues to consider Articling to be an effective and important educational tool in our existing licensing regime. While it is not a perfect system, it is a valuable one that should be maintained, with some enhancements. For the reasons discussed in the submission, the TLA supports Option #2, Current Model with Enhancements, as outlined in the Consultation Paper. Read the TLA Submission.
TLA Response to Ford's Criticism of Justice Belobaba
The Toronto Lawyers Association (TLA) wishes to express its dismay over the recent remarks of Premier Doug Ford regarding the Honourable Justice Belobaba’s ruling on the unconstitutionality of Bill 5.
On September 10, 2018, Justice Belobaba rendered his decision on Bill 5, the Better Local Government Act, declaring it contrary to section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In response to this ruling against his government, Premier Ford criticised Justice Belobaba for having the audacity to “shut down” his “democratically elected government” given that His Honour was merely “appointed” and not “elected.” Premier Ford further expressed concern that the judiciary would continue to interfere with his “decisions in changing the laws to make this province better,” describing it as “scary” and “disturbing.”
Even more disparaging were Premier Ford’s remarks implying that Justice Belobaba had political motives for striking down Bill 5. By claiming that Justice Belobaba was appointed by former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty and highlighting the court’s alleged deficiency in holding the former Liberal government accountable, Premier Ford threatens a basic tenet of our legal system: judicial independence. In fact, this diatribe is, among other things, factually incorrect. Superior Court judges are appointed by the federal government; Justice Belobaba himself was appointed on May 5, 2005 by then Prime Minister Paul Martin.
Premier Ford is unquestionably entitled to disagree with the rulings of the judiciary just as he is empowered to seek appellate review of these decisions. The recent ruling by the Court of Appeal is proof that the Courts can be rapid, efficient and impartial.
The Premier went well over the line, in denigrating the authority and ability of the courts to independently review the constitutionality of executive orders. His comments are directly at odds with the respect for the judiciary which ought to inform all elected officials.
In addition to using inappropriate and unacceptable language to ridicule the judiciary, Premier Ford also demonstrated a lack of respect for the principal safeguards of Canadian citizens’ rights. By claiming that he was “sitting here handcuffed with a piece of tape over my mouth, watching what I say,” Premier Ford misapprehends the primary objective of the rule of law and the Constitution itself, namely to constrain the arbitrary and unfair exercise of power. Judicial independence is fundamental to maintaining the rule of law, which is, in turn, integral to the existence of democracy.
The Toronto Lawyers Association deplores any words by a democratically elected leader which vilify or belittle the authority of the courts and the role of the judiciary in safeguarding the rights of all Canadians.
Youth Criminal Justice
Update May 23rd: “From our point of view, all of the bails — and bails have always taken place in the context of a provincial courthouse — will be hived off to the old 2201 building…and we have real concerns about that from a whole series of bases,” TLA President Dirk Derstine tells the Lawyers Daily* in a recent interview. Read the full article on recent stakeholder response to the new mega courthouse.
*This article was originally published by The Lawyer’s Daily (www.thelawyersdaily.ca), part of LexisNexis Canada Inc.
Update May 17th: "Mixing youths and adults accused of crimes at a new downtown courthouse could expose minors to exploitation", TLA President Dirk Derstine tells AdvocateDaily.com in a recent interview.
Derstine, a criminal lawyer who recently assumed the presidency of the TLA, says one of his priorities in the role concerns the “mega-courthouse” planned for downtown Toronto. With a tentative completion date of 2021, the $1-billion courthouse slated for Armoury Street is due to consolidate most of the city’s criminal courts, including the dedicated youth court, currently housed at 311 Jarvis St. But Derstine says a site designed for adults is no place for children as young as 12 to appear when accused of crimes.
“The TLA believes that youths should not be treated as if they were adults, and in fact, the Criminal Code mandates that they are not,” he says. Read the full article.
The TLA has been raising concerns about the new Toronto mega-courthouse being built on Armoury St. for several months. The TLA has been involved in lobbying the provincial government on several issues regarding the courthouse, most notably the inclusion of youth within the new courthouse.
TLA responds to CBC Interview: "More Canadians are acting as their own lawyer because they don't have a choice"
On March 25, 2018, CBC journalist Michael Enright, hosted guest Professor Julie MacFarlane of the University of Windsor and founder of the National Self-Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP). The discussion was: "More Canadians are acting as their own lawyer because they don't have a choice”.
An Open Letter to the LSO Treasurer re: Statement of Principles
As the Law Society moves forward to implement the recommendations approved by Convocation Equality, Diversity and Inclusion initiative, lawyers are now required to adopt and abide by a Statement of Principles. With the recent release of the Guide to the Application of Recommendation 3(1), the TLA felt compelled to submit a letter on behalf of its membership, expressing support for the overall initiative but also calling for more transparency and consultation with stakeholders on the road ahead. Read the letter here.
The TLA responds to criticism of the appointment of the Honourable Justice Norris
The Toronto Lawyers Association wishes to express its support for the appointment of The Honourable Justice John Norris to the Federal Court of Canada. Justice Norris was an ornament to the bar and will be an ornament to the Court.
There has been some criticism of his appointment. This criticism has largely centred on his successful representation of notorious defendants. The strong defence of the unpopular is a hallmark not only of good advocacy, but of the very reason the legal system exists. If the law cannot provide a mechanism for all to seek justice, then the legal system has failed in one of its fundamental mandates.
Lawyers who defend the notorious will always be subject to criticism. That criticism must be met head on with the simple truth that those who defend the unpopular are acting in the very best traditions of the bar. They deserve praise, not condemnation. This is amply true of Justice Norris.
Melanie Manchee, TLA President
Contingency Fee Arrangements
Dialogue on Licensing
In response to the Law Society's call for submissions on the Dialogue on Licensing, TLA tabled its submission on September 15, 2017. The submission covered such issues as: concerns regarding the rising trend in number of licencees; the examination process; the articling process; the current NCA program; and the threshold for entry level competence. Read the TLA submission here.
Family Legal Services Report - Request for Feedback
Recommendations 4 and 5 of the Bonkalo Report suggest the expansion of paralegal practice with a specialized licence to act in matters of child custody & access, child support, restraining orders, and enforcement up to, but not at, a trial, as well as simple divorce.
TLA was part of a group of family law associations responding to her report with a common voice in opposition to such expansion. TLA's own responding document is available here.
TLA expresses concerns to Toronto Mayor's Office re New Courthouse
During 2017, TLA representatives attended several meetings with members of the Ministry of the Attorney general and other stakeholders,regarding plans for construction of a new courthouse on Armoury Street. Following these meetings, TLA contacted Mayor Tory's office to express concern over various issues including: traffic and parking congestion; the location of bail court; and plans to move the Youth Court from Jarivs Street to the new building. Read the letter to the Mayor's office.
TLA responds to "Improving Access to Justice for Families" Report
UPDATE: Read the March 20th press release from TLA President Melanie Manchee.
On December 31, 2016 Justice Bonkalo released her Family Services Review, Improving Access to Justice for Families: Making the Family Court System Easier to Navigate, that addresses the provision of legal services by persons other than lawyers. It made many recommendations for improvements to the system to provide better access to justice for litigants.
LSUC Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group
As part of its ongoing efforts to promote equity, diversity and inclusiveness in Ontario's legal profession, The Law Society of Upper Canada created the Challenges Faced by Racialized Licensees Working Group (the “Working Group”) in 2012 to identify the challenges faced by racialized lawyers and paralegals and consider strategies for enhanced inclusion at all career stages.
Letter to Minister Wilson-Raybould on Judicial Shortage
The Toronto Lawyers Association (TLA) commented that a crisis in the justice system is looming because of an "unprecedented" number of judicial shortages and is urging Federal Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould to take “immediate action."
Pathways Pilot Project Evaluation and Enhancements to Licensing Report
As part of the Law Society’s priority to strengthen the licensing process, the Pathways Pilot Project was evaluated in a report that outlines a number of recommendations. The Pathways Pilot Project Evaluation and Enhancements to Licensing Report was presented to Convocation on September 22, 2016 and comment from the professions was sought. TLA provided comment in a letter to the Treasurer of October 19, 2016. Read the submission here.
The Professional Development and Competence Committee is now reviewing submissions. The Committee’s final report will be provided to and deliberated at Convocation on November 9, 2016. This Convocation will be webcast.
LSUC Consultation re Advertising and Fees
In response to concerns that have been expressed to the Law Society, the LSUC's Professional Regulation Committee struck a Working Group on Advertising and Fee Arrangements. The Working Group held preliminary consultations with a broad cross-section of the profession through a series of focus group sessions. The TLA participated in this process. The Working Group sought input from the profession with respect to a number of issues which were identified as potentially requiring a regulatory response. The issues include advertising and fees in real estate law and personal injury law, contingency fees and referral fees. Click here for a list of the specific issues. Click here for a link to the Professional Regulation Committee Report.
The TLA gathered input from its membership and submitted feedback to the Working Group on licensee advertising and fee arrangements via a letter from the President, Stephen Mullings. Read the submission here.
A message from the President of the TLA: Legal Aid threshold is woefully inadequate
Justice Ian Nordheimer’s recent ruling in the case of Tyrell Moodie broadcast to the outside world what litigants, lawyers, judges and governments have known for quite some time –the legal aid system, in particular the ‘poverty’ threshold to obtain legal aid, is woefully inadequate and out of line with the economic challenges facing accused persons in the province, specifically Toronto.
Stephen A. Mullings
Call for Input on Compliance-Based Entity Regulation
The Law Society of Upper Canada put forth a proposal to institute compliance-based entity regulation of lawyers and paralegals premised upon the LSUC identifying practice management principles and goals and setting expectations in broad parameters. The LSUC will also take responsibility for providing the necessary tools to assist lawyers and paralegals in understanding, implementing and maintaining these principles and in meeting expectations. TLA submitted comment on the proposal to the Policy Secretariat of LSUC. Read the submission here.
Proposed Revisions to Licensing Process for New Lawyers
TLA learned of the Law Society of Upper Canada's proposal to change the licensing process for new lawyers. The proposal outlines a reduction in time for the traditional articling duration as well as a reduction in the licensing examination hours. TLA responded to the proposal by requesting time to review the full details and consult with its membership. Read the letter to the LSUC Treasurer here.
Remuneration of Case Management Masters
TLA responded to the final report of the Case Management Remuneration Commission, expressing support for the conclusions that Case Management Masters should receive equal salary, pension and benefits to those paid to Provincial Court judges. Read the submission here.
TLA Responds to the Joint AG/LSUC Launch of Family Legal Services Review
The Toronto Lawyers Association looks forward to working with Justice Bonkalo on this important initiative. We will be responding to the AG’s request for input from the public, as well as meeting with, and making submissions to Justice Bonkalo. In its submissions, the TLA will emphasize the importance to the public of accessing competent and qualified legal services while at the same time ensuring individuals receive genuinely enhanced access to justice to resolve their family law disputes.
The Ministry of the Attorney General’s Consultation document Expanding Legal Services Options for Ontario Families is available for your review.
The Ministry’s News News Release, Province Seeking Feedback To Make Family Legal Services More Accessible: Honourable Justice Bonkalo to Lead Family Law Review, is also available.
Consultation on the Representation of Children under the Family Law Rules
The Toronto Lawyers Association has been invited to give input with respect to the serious issue of representation of children under the Family Law Rules. A copy of the TLA submission is available here.
Ontario Proposed Legislation for Street Checks Consultation
The Toronto Lawyers Association responded to the opportunity to comment on the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services consultation regarding Ontario’s Proposed Regulation for Street Checks. A copy of the letter of comment is available here.
Safety in Cells at 361 University Courthouse
The Toronto Lawyers Association was apprised of some facts concerning the safety of prisoners and correctional officers at the 361 University Court House. In response, the TLA sent a letter to the Attorney General, the Hon. Madeleine Meilleur. A copy of the letter is available here.
Courts of Justice Act (CJA)
The Civil Rules Committee is interested in hearing from stakeholders on the issue of whether to recommend an expansion to the definition of "health practitioner" under section 1OS of the Courts of Justice Act (CJA). This section of the CJA indicates that a court may order a party to an action to undergo a physical or mental examination by a "health practitioner" where the physical or mental condition of a party to a proceeding is in question. The current definition of "health practitioner" includes those licensed to practice medicine, dentistry or psychology. There is some concern that this definition may be too narrow and may limit the Court's ability to order examinations by other health professionals or qualified experts. The Consultation Document is available here.
The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO)
TORONTO, June 26, 2014 — The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) today released its Discussion Paper in its Legal Capacity, Decision-making and Guardianship project. The LCO encourages feedback from members of the public, including older adults and persons with disabilities, service providers, policy-makers, lawyers and advocates until Friday, October 17, 2014, as part of its public consultation process and expects to release a draft report and recommendations next year.
The TLA wrote to the Minister of Finance expressing the Association’s concerns over the draft legislation to overhaul the current automobile insurance system. In particular, the TLA expressed concern over the Bill’s proposed terms which would prevent an injured person from pursuing a SABS claim in court, even if the person was pursuing a court action for other losses arising from a motor vehicle accident. This would increase litigation costs and result in a multiplicity of proceedings. The TLA’s letter to the Ministry of Finance can be viewed here.
Proposed Amendments Re The Law of Negligence
The TLA prepared a letter to the Director of Justice Policy Development at the Ministry of the Attorney General in response to the proposal by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario to amend the law of negligence. In the letter, the Association outlined its concerns with regards to the negative effect on access to justice for Ontarians. The full letter is available here.
Trinity Western University Proposed Law School
The TLA prepared a letter to the Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada regarding the Federation of Law Societies' preliminary approval of a law school at Trinity Western University (TWU). In the letter, the Association urges the Law Society to consider all aspects of this issue with the utmost care, taking into consideration its overarching duties to protect the public and to uphold the Rule of Law; and in doing so, to ensure that all licensees meet the requisite standards of professional competence, professional conduct, and education standards expected of all lawyers admitted to the practice in Ontario. The full letter is available here.
Automobile Insurance Dispute Resolution System Review Submission
The Toronto Lawyers Association ("TLA”) was asked to comment on the current system for resolving automobile insurance disputes between claimants and insurers at the Financial Services Commission of Ontario ("FSCO”). The TLA believes that the review being performed by the Honorable Justice J. Douglas Cunningham is an important process to address the issues surrounding the mediation backlog and procedure followed by the FSCO. The full submission is available here.
TLA CPD Submission=
The TLA has long supported mandatory CPD, while encouraging LSUC to retain a flexible approach for lawyers, coupled with a fair, clear, and straightforward accreditation process for CPD providers. The TLA made a submission to the LSUC on the Two-Year Review of the CPD Requirement based on feedback from the membership. The full submission is available here.
Paralegal Motion to LSUC re expanded scope of practice for May 8 AGM
A Paralegal Motion to the LSUC re expanded scope of practice will be discussed at the May 8, 2013 AGM. The motion refers to the Morris Report which was commissioned by the Attorney General of Ontario. The Morris Report is available on the Ministry of the Attorney General website which also contains further details about paralegal regulation in Ontario.
The Law Society has a Working Group which has been working on the implementation of the 11 recommendations set out in the Morris Report . Their report: