Law Times - Newsmakers

2016 Top Newsmakers

The premier weekly newspaper for the legal profession in Ontario

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8 December 2016 2016 Top Cases From bestiality to reasonable delays, Canada's courts tackled range of issues BY ELIZABETH RAYMER THIS YEAR, THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA ruled on matters ranging from the legal definition of bestiality to what constitutes reasonable delays, with several important employment law deci- sions and one on solicitor-client privilege in the mix. From R. v. D.L.W. to Jordan v. R. to Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada and Keenan v. Canac Kitchens Ltd., the highest court provided guid- ance through several groundbreaking decisions. Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada is decision was heralded as a victory for federally regulated employees when it was handed down in July. In it, the Supreme Court overturned a "game-changing" decision by the Federal Court of Appeal and ruled that non- unionized employees of federally regulated businesses are entitled to similar protections against dismissal as those aff orded to unionized workers. e SCC ruled six to three in Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. In February 2015, the Federal Court of Appeal had held that federally regulated employers may dismiss employees without cause. Previously, employees governed by the Canada Labour Code were terminated for just cause only. e decision af- fected half a million non-unionized employees working in banks, telecommunications, airlines and other federal enterprises. "It . . . brings the meaning of 'unjust dis- missal' under the Canada Labour Code in line with the accepted interpretation that had been followed by the vast majority of adjudicators since the law's introduction in 1978," said James LeNoury, who represented Wilson, an employee of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., and who argued the case before the Supreme Court, in a statement. R. v. D.L.W. Bestiality requires penetration or injury to the animal, the court ruled in this landmark decision handed down in June. R. v. D.L.W. was a disturbing case of child abuse that included one count of bestiality. e respondent was convicted of multiple sexual of- fences, and of bestiality, but that last conviction was overturned on appeal a er the defendant successfully argued that the statutory defi nition of bestiality required there to have been sexual penetration. In a 6-1 majority decision written by Justice omas Cromwell and handed down in June, the SCC upheld the appeal court's decision, ruling that the legal defi nition of the word "bestiality" extends from its introduc- tion as a criminal provision in the 19th century. At that time, the term "buggery" was used instead, denoting a specifi c act that must include pen- etration. Because Parliament had failed to update its defi nition of bestial- ity, the court was reliant on historical defi nitions. Animal rights organization Animal Justice was an intervener in the case, arguing that the appeal had not only to do with protecting children and punishing sexual off enders but with protecting animals. In a statement released immediately a er the decision, the organization urged Parliament to quickly pass the modernizing animal protections act, but bill C-246 was defeated. Canada v. Thompson and Canada v. Chambre des notaires e identity of tax clients is privileged, the SCC decided in June, ruling that legal professionals cannot be compelled by a provision in tax law to divulge their clients' identities or any other privileged information. e court's twin and unanimous rulings in Canada v. ompson and Canada v. Chambre des notaires found that: facts about clients, including their identities, fall under solicitor-client privilege; that the clients of notaries are also aff orded this privilege; and that the privilege can only be abrogated if no other way can be found to carry out the broader legislative purpose. Both cases centred on s. 232 of the Income Tax Act, which excludes a lawyer's accounting records from solicitor-client privilege. e issue

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