Law Times

March 9, 2009

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From Marriage Contracts To Divorce Judgments and Everything in Between Visit today! $3.55 • Vol. 20, No. 8 DMOne lug_LT.Feb.09.indd 1 1/29/09 3:17:39 PM LSUC pondering governance changes Stakes high for benchers BY ROBERT TODD Law Times L aw Society of Upper Canada benchers have signalled concerns that the pro- fession's lack of knowledge about the institution could skew a consultation pro- cess on possible changes to its governance structure. The law society created a task force in 2006 to look into the issue, and the stakes are high for benchers. Questions on the table include whether the size of Convo- cation should be reduced, if ex officio life benchers should be done away with, and whether benchers should continue to adjudicate disciplinary matters. Bencher Bradley Wright suggested the law society's governance structure could be hard for some lawyers to grasp. "We're not a legislature, we're not a private corporation. We really are unique and it's go- ing to be very interesting — and difficult, I would venture to say — for outsiders to fully understand what we do, why we do it, how we do it," Wright told February Convocation. Benchers last September approved con- sultations with lawyers and paralegals on its governance of the LSUC. The two- phase process started in November, when a workshop was held in which benchers could offer their views on whether chang- es are in order. Thirty-five benchers went to that session, according to a report from the governance task force. The second phase involves talks with "a lim- ited number of lawyers and paralegals, includ- ing leaders in the profession and other informed stakeholders," stated the report. The task force Governance task force chairman and Bencher Tom Heintzman says his group sought to create a fair report for the consultation. created a discussion paper that will be used to inform consultation participants on the issues at hand, and it includes a set of questions. Governance task force chairman and Bencher Tom Heintzman said his group sought to create a fair report for the consultation. "I can tell you that the committee's job has been to try to get balance," he said. "That's all we did. We tried to make sure that when we looked at the document it had both sides of the equation." But while Convocation has committed to moving forward with the consultation, many benchers suggested they should have a more fulsome debate of the task force's discussion paper before going ahead with it. The discussion paper will ask participants for their views on areas such as the bencher election process and the law society's rela- tionship with members, whether there's a need to deal with the size or makeup of Con- vocation, and whether changes are in order for hearing panel members. Some specific questions include: • Are the elected benchers adequately repre- sentative of the legal profession in Ontario? • Is the level of voter turnout a symptom of how the profession relates to the law society? • Should the size of Convocation be reduced? • Should Convocation have an executive committee? If so, what role should such a committee play in the governance structure? • Should term limits be imposed on elected benchers? • Should benchers continue to be adjudicators? Bencher Gerald Swaye submitted a mo- tion for benchers to debate the task force's discussion paper in a committee of the whole meeting — which the public may not attend — before seeking consultation. That motion was slimly defeated, with Treasurer Derry Mil- lar issuing a deciding vote against it. Ex officio Bencher Ross Murray suggested the law society may be "putting the cart before the horse" by seeking the profession's view on gov- ernance issues — especially regarding discipline See Meetings, page 2 Lawyers stumped over SCC application rates BY TIM NAUMETZ For Law Times OTTAWA — A significant dif- ference in the rate of applications from Ontario and Quebec for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada has lawyers and experts stumped. The Supreme Court's latest special edition of its Bulletin of Proceedings highlights a trend of disproportionate application rates at least to 2004. The bulletin for 2008 shows the Supreme Court received 143 applications for leave to appeal judgments of the Court of Appeal of Quebec, compared to 141 ap- plications from Ontario. Quebec's population is cur- TitlePlus_LT_Mar9_09 2/27/09 11:23 AM Page 1 Eugene Meehan rently 7,535,900 while the popu- lation of Ontario is at 12,390,600, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada. Lawyers who keep a close eye on Supreme Court proceedings and trends agree the number of ap- plications from Quebec would be 64-per-cent less than what it was last year compared to Ontario, if it were based roughly on population. But the reason for the dispro- portionate number of applications remains, to this point, a mystery. "I would have thought it would go the other way, there would be less from Quebec," Brian Crane, a constitutional and Supreme Court expert at Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, tells Law Times. Crane based his assessment on a combination of factors, primar- ily based on an expectation that Quebec litigants would hold a belief that the Quebec Court of Together we have all the tools To ensure your clients get the most comprehensive coverage in one title insurance policy, take a look at the TitlePLUS Program , your Bar-related real estate partner! 1 ® PROTECTION AS GOOD AS IT GETS 1-800-410-1013 ® TitlePLUS, the TitlePLUS logo, OwnerEXPRESS and LAWPRO are registered trademarks of Lawyers' Professional Indemnity Company. ® BAR-RELATED Mark is a registered Mark of North American Bar Related Title Insurers used by LAWPRO under License. 1 Please refer to the policy for full details, including actual terms and conditions. The TitlePLUS policy is underwritten by Lawyers' Professional Indemnity Company (LAWPRO®). Contact LAWPRO for brokers in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and Québec. TitlePLUS policies issued with respect to properties in Québec and OwnerEXPRESS® policies do not include legal services coverage. ® Appeal would be best suited to rule on Civil Code cases. "I think that Quebecers might very well have good confidence in their court and consider that to go to Ottawa on a Civil Code mat- ter, there's only three judges there from the Civil Code tradition," he says. "The oddity is, why there are fewer from Ontario?" Crane speculated that the lower per capita rate of applications for leave from Ontario could be ex- plained by the requirement for leave to appeal administrative law decisions from Ontario's Di- visional Court to the province's Court of Appeal. "There is another filter, as it were," he says. "That would re- duce the number of cases going to the Court of Appeal and hence the See Rates, page 3 Focus On Immigration Law Quote of the week "The way CSIC is structured right now, it has no power. It has no authority. The membership is basically voluntary. The board is not even interested in going after the phantom representatives. CSIC was established to protect consumers, but it's worse than ever. There are more phantom representatives than ever." — Katarina Onuschak, consultant, Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants See Controversy, page 12 Online Divorce 6 The Dirt 9 Covering Ontario's Legal Scene McKELLAR STRUCTURED SETTLEMENTS INC. 1-800-265-8381 ckellar_LT_Jan14_08.indd 1 March 9, 2009 1/8/08 3:03:02 PM Inside This Issue 3

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