Law Times

Oct 28, 2013

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ACCESS TO JUSTICE MOBILITY DEAL Agreement gets official approval Follow LAW TIMES on $4.00 • Vol. 24, No. 34 p2 FOCUS ON Affordability means reducing lawyers' roles p6 L aw TIMEs p8 Real Estate Law CO V E R I N G O N TA R I O ' S L E G A L S C E N E • W W W. L AW T I M E S N E W S . CO M October 28, 2013 ntitled-4 1 12-03-20 10:44 AM Torys lawyer ready to 'move forward' Firm's Darren Sukonick gratified by LSUC panel's exoneration BY YAMRI TADDESE Law Times T orys LLP lawyer Darren Sukonick has a lot of catching up to do after nearly eight years of absence from a law practice he can now return to in light of a Law Society of Upper Canada hearing panel decision that found no evidence he was in a conflict of interest. "As a lawyer, my most important asset is my reputation, and I am most gratified that this decision definitively asserts that I maintained the highest of standards of professional ethical conduct," he says following the ruling in a case that was reportedly the law society's longest-running disciplinary matter. "With my reputation intact, I feel confident that I can move forward to accomplish whatever I set out to do." For several years, his focus was on defending himself against conflict of interest allegations brought against him and his colleague, Beth DeMerchant, by the law society. The charges were in relation to work the pair did as part of the sale of Hollinger International Inc. assets between 2000 and 2003. According to Sukonick's counsel, the hearing itself took 135 hearing days spread across 2-1/2 years. Sukonick was 36 at the time the case began. Now 43, he and DeMerchant, who has since retired, have at last been exonerated. In a 47-page decision, a law society hearing panel said it didn't have sufficient evidence to find DeMerchant and Sukonick guilty of professional misconduct. "The [lawyers'] clients are all considered to be sophisticated and before there is a finding of conflict of The Law Society of Upper Canada admits the proceedings against Darren Sukonick and Beth DeMerchant were 'protracted.' interest, there should be some evidence that counsel preferred the legal interests of one or more clients to the detriment of another.  There was none," wrote hearing panel chairman William Simpson. Over the years of the proceedings, Sukonick says he remained engaged in his firm as a member of the pro bono committee and another group that oversaw renovation efforts at Torys. He even worked at some point as the interim in-house counsel at one of the firm's public company clients. But it remains a fact that the prime years of his career, which he could have spent honing his practice skills, are "gone forever," as his lawyer put it. "There is no doubt that my career path was impacted and that it will take considerable dedication and hard work to resume the type of cutting-edge corporate practice that I had and which my peers still have," says Sukonick. But the emotional toll of the allegations was tougher than watching the years go by, he says. "What was most difficult for me and my family was the emotional impact and personal toll associated with the prosecution's contention that I had lapsed ethically in serving my clients and the public nature of those allegations." According to a May report from the law society, the majority of cases that land on investigators' desks finish within 10 months, although fraud and mortgage matters often take longer. For Ian Smith, counsel for Sukonick, the length of time it took to render a decision in the case "defies the notion of justice." See Timeline, page 5 Lots of work for lawyers in EU trade deal For Law Times W 'The key thing is the patent-term extension,' says Noel Courage. hile Canadians have yet to see the full details of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union, it's clear the deal will mean work opportunities for lawyers. "Like any contract, so much is in the details," says Cliff Sosnow, an international trade and international investment partner with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP. The agreement in principle still has a way to go before the government introduces legislation in the House of Commons and it must go through a similar ratification process in Europe. Like tax practitioners, corporate lawyers will want to go through the various aspects with their clients once legislation is in place and spend the intervening time planning for the changes and looking to find lost or gained competitive advantages as well as any other opportunities. "The profession has two roles to play at that point," says Sosnow of Faskens' Ottawa office. In addition to finding which advantages the deal contains for clients, lawyers will also be looking at the legislation to check that it properly reflects the agreement or point out any conflicts. "I think this is a big-bang agreement . . . because it's so farreaching," says Sosnow. "We just don't know all the details yet," he adds. An aspect that intrigues Riyaz Dattu, who handles international trade policy and investment matters at Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, is the provision on the investment chapter and the investor-state arbitration mechanism. The provision sees expanded market access and increased protection for investors. The provision gives businesses the opportunity to challenge government actions, much as the North American Free Trade Agreement does. "Canadian companies with investment impacted by EU measures can bring an investor-state arbitration" in a neutral place, says PM #40762529 BY MARg. BRUINEMAN See Drug, page 5 Get more online • Fresh Canadian legal news and analysis every day Canadian Lawyer | Law Times | 4Students | InHouse | Legal Feeds Visit Us Online 1-8-5X.indd 1 2/28/11 2:37:34 PM

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