Law Times

July 24, 2017

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OCA allows foster parent to be party in case BY ALEX ROBINSON Law Times T he Ontario Court of Ap- peal has ruled that a foster mother can be named a party in a child protection case, as it was in the child's best in- terests. Lawyers who represent parents say the decision in A.M. v. Valo- ris Pour Enfants et Adultes de Prescott-Russell is of concern because the ultimate implications of such proceedings can result in the permanent abolishment of the child-parent relationship, she says. "The rights at stake are greatly significant to both the parent and the child," says Julie Ralhan, a law- yer in private practice who rep- resents parents and other family members in Children's Aid Society cases. She was not involved in the case. "At every stage of the analysis, I think it's important for there to be clarity about what factors a court is to consider in determining wheth- er or not to possibly relinquish the rights of a parent and when a foster parent is added as a party." Julie Bergeron, the lawyer who represented the foster mother in the case, however, says considering the best interests of the child were paramount in the determination to add her client as a party. "It gives guidance to foster parents that care for children when they are placed with them and are able to comment on the well-being and day-to-day rou- tine of the child," she says. "This decision will be of great importance for any foster parents who want to be added. . . . If we're looking at the best interests of the child, we need to know what is go- ing on in the child's life." The case concerned a child who was made a ward of the Valoris Pour Enfants et Adultes de Prescott-Russell when he was two months old in 2015. He was then placed with a foster-to-adopt mother. The society ward filed a status TWO-TIER SYSTEM Family court system fails majority of users P7 FOCUS ON Litigation Funding P8 See No, page 2 PM #40762529 $5.00 • Vol. 28, No. 24 July 24, 2017 L AW TIMES C O V E R I N G O N T A R I O ' S L E G A L S C E N E • W W W . L A W T I M E S N E W S . C O M TRANSGENDER INMATES Insight shared on improving prison policies P5 BY ALEX ROBINSON Law Times L awyers say a recent On- tario Superior Court de- cision spells out auditors' liability to their clients' clients. In Lavender v. Miller Bern- stein, Justice Edward Belobaba sided with investors who brought a class action lawsuit against an accounting firm that had audited a now-defunct securities dealer, Buckingham Securities. The plaintiff said the account- ing firm, Miller Bernstein, was li- able for negligently signing off on reports that falsely said the dealer was in compliance with the On- tario Securities Commission's requirements on segregation and minimum capital requirements. While the investors had never seen those reports, Belobaba ruled that the auditors had a duty of care to the investors. Lawyers need to be aware of the decision if they represent in- vestors or auditors, and the ruling demonstrates that there are cir- cumstances in which auditors are going to owe a duty of care when the work they undertake is for the specific purpose of protecting a group of people. "This decision helps clarify the situations in which an auditor is liable to people other than its cli- ents," says Daniel Bach, a partner with Siskinds LLP and one of the lawyers representing the plaintiff. In 2001, the OSC put Bucking- ham Securities into receivership, but by that time, the securities dealer had already used the un- segregated assets and class mem- bers lost $10.6 million. The dealer admitted that it had made false statements in Form 9 reports, which were audited by Miller Bernstein and filed to the OSC every year to prove the dealer was segregating assets and min- imum capital. The OSC brought proceedings against both the dealer and the auditor. The plaintiff commenced the class action lawsuit in 2005 and it was certified in 2010. The primary area of disagree- ment between the parties in the case was whether the accounting firm owed a duty of care to the in- vestors. The plaintiff argued that the auditor owed a duty of care caus- See Close, page 2 Daniel Bach says a recent Ontario Superior Court decision helps shed light on situations in which an auditor has a duty of care to non-clients. Photo: Robin Kuniski Superior Court ruling clarifies auditors' liability Julie Bergeron says a recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision illuminates when foster parents can be added as parties to child protection cases. 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