Law Times

May 30, 2011

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Follow on www.twitter.com/lawtimes $4.00 • Vol. 22, No. 18 Untitled-3 1 5/5/10 3:55:30 PM Inside This Issue 3 Second Chance 6 A Expert Immunity 8 Focus On Criminal Law Quote of the week "The bottom line is my client produced documents when he came to Canada to get his refugee status. Those documents were accepted by the Canadian government. They were not questioned as being forgeries. It is possible there are two Chaars in this world." — Sam Goldstein See Lawyer, page 10 Covering Ontario's Legal Scene ntitled-3 1 Billions of dollars invested, not a penny lost. May 30, 2011 5/4/10 2:49:21 PM Landmark ruling in libel suit Civil jury awards $400K in aggravated damages BY MICHAEL McKIERNAN Law Times jury has awarded $650,000 to a director of the Bank of Montreal after fi nding renowned shareholder rights activist Robert Verdun had defamed him. Th e award to Robert Astley, who is also chairman of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, included $400,000 for aggravated damages. Th at makes it one of the largest aggravated damages awards in Canadian history, lawyers believe. Th e civil jury rejected Verdun's defences to eight statements on May 20, fi nding all of them were defam- atory and that he had acted with malice. Th e verdict brings an end to a fi ve-year legal battle between the two men over Verdun's opposition to Astley's appoint- ment to the Bank of Montreal board. "It's a very gratifying verdict," says Don Jack, a liti- gation partner at Heenan Blaikie LLP and Astley's co- counsel in the case. "It's been a very diffi cult burden for Mr. Astley, and he is very pleased it has come to a successful conclusion in the litigation." However, it may not be the last chapter in the feud, which dates all the way back to 1999, when Astley was president and CEO of Mutual Life as it converted into a publicly traded entity and became known as the Cla- rica Life Insurance Co. Clarica later merged with Sun Life Financial Services of Canada Inc. Verdun, a former newspaper publisher from Elm- ira, Ont., became known for his brash style and con- frontational editorials. He transferred that manner to the business world, turning up at annual general meetings for various corporations to demand greater transparency in board aff airs. 'It's been a very difficult burden for Mr. Astley, and he is very pleased it has come to a successful conclusion in the litigation,' says Astley's co-counsel Don Jack. An interim injunction granted after the jury verdict has now silenced Verdun from making his claims against Astley. Still, he's hopeful of lifting the ban at a hearing to review the injunction and hear submissions on costs for the defa- mation action on June 6. Astley is seek- ing to make the injunction permanent at the hearing. Verdun, who represented himself at the trial, has written a book on Astley and repeats many of his claims on his blog, bobverdun.blogspot.com, al- though Astley's name has been redacted since the injunction took eff ect. "I expect this will work out but I can't See New, page 4 Ottawa lawyer launches green-focused firm A BY MICHAEL McKIERNAN Law Times fter nearly three decades of working with environmen- tal groups and agencies, Ottawa lawyer Stephen Hazell has returned to his private prac- tice roots to promote the cause of environmental sustainability. Hazell, who was instrumen- 'We're interested in working with clients that have a commitment to sustainability,' says Stephen Hazell. tal in the implementation of the Canadian Environmental Assess- ment Act, has launched Ecovision Law, a fi rm he calls "Ottawa's fi rst green private law fi rm." He has also served as executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and in 2006 he succeeded Elizabeth May as executive director of the Sierra Club Canada. Th ere, he spearheaded the fi ght against the Mackenzie gas project and Alberta oilsands development. "I've been a member of the law society since 1983, so a long time, but it hasn't been a conventional law practice by any stretch," he says. "I've run national environ- mental groups, I've been an envi- ronmental consultant, I've acted as corporate counsel to NGOs. "I was thinking about what to do for the last part of my career and I settled on the idea of a law practice that would have sustain- ability ethics at its core." Ecovision Law is committed to sustainability, Hazell says, and it expects its clients to take that approach as well. Some targets are obvious, such as non-profi t environmental groups or com- munity organizations, but Hazell says the fi rm will take on anyone who can demonstrate they're se- rious about green issues. "It's not intended to be a huge hurdle," he says. "It's just intended to ensure that the clients and law- yers are on the same page. We're interested in working with cli- ents that have a commitment to sustainability. It could be simple things like having a green offi ce policy, encouraging your staff to do the right thing in terms of the fi rm's environmental footprint. Th is is not diffi cult stuff to do." Hazell is still developing a vetting process but says it will be similar to one used by the Si- erra Club when corporations ap- proached it to off er money. Dur- ing his tenure, the organization See Virtual, page 4 www.adrontario.ca/findapro.cfm ADR Connect: LT Digital version.indd 1 Find an ADR Professional 416-487-4447 • admin@adrontario.ca Mediators Untitled-2 1 www.lawtimesnews.com Gold Standard Arbitrators 5/20/11 1:11:30 PM 6/25/10 12:59:47 PM Click here to subscribe today to LAW TIMES

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