Law Times

March 6, 2017

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Report anticipated to impact family law bar BY ALEX ROBINSON Law Times L awyers say a forthcoming report that may broaden the scope of family law could erode current stan- dards and squeeze lawyers out of the marketplace. In a report commissioned by the provincial government and the Law Society of Upper Canada, the former chief justice of the Ontario Court of Justice Annemarie Bonk- alo will make recommendations that could impact family lawyers across Ontario. Among the issues Bonkalo, currently a part-time judge, was tasked with was to consider widen- ing the scope of family law to allow paralegals to practise in the area. Some of those waiting for the report remain unconvinced that expanding the scope would pro- mote access to justice and say it would also be to the detriment of the family law bar. "Our primary question is how lowering the standards of pro- fessionals to practise in the area of family law, which is extremely complex and emotionally charged, how that's going to contribute to access to justice," says Michael Ras, executive director of the Federa- tion of Ontario Law Associations. "We fear the economic model, as fragile as it is, will be upset even more and will drive many family law lawyers out of the practice. How will lawyers leaving family law improve access to justice?" The provincial government and Law Society of Upper Canada are commissioning the report, which is expected to be public soon. Bonkalo has been mandated to determine whether paralegals, law clerks and students should be al- lowed to handle certain matters in family law in the hopes of boosting access to justice. In 2014-15, more than 57 per cent of Ontarians who engaged in matters in family court did not have legal representation, accord- ing to the provincial government. CIVIL DELAYS Backlog hurts access to justice P7 FOCUS ON Corporate & Commercial Law P8 See Other, page 2 PM #40762529 $5.00 • Vol. 28, No.8 March 6, 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 JUDGE TRAINING Sexual assault education proposed in bill P4 BY ALEX ROBINSON Law Times E mployment lawyers say a much-anticipated Ontario Court of Appeal decision has brought clarity to the issue of what makes contractual termination clauses enforceable. The issue has been top of mind for the employment law bar in recent years as lower courts have issued diverging opinions on the issue, lawyers say. In Wood v. Fred Deeley Im- ports Ltd., 2017 ONCA 158, the court declared an employment agreement's termination clause as unenforceable because it contra- vened the Employment Standards Act. The court found that the clause did not include all of the em- ployment standards that employ- ees are entitled to under the ESA. "Contracting out even one of the employment standards and not substituting a greater ben- efit would render the termination clause void and thus unenforce- able, in which case Wood would be entitled to reasonable notice of termination of her employment at common law," Justice John Laskin wrote in the decision on behalf of a three-judge panel. Employment lawyers say they have been looking for clarification on whether the word benefits must be expressly used in contractual termination clauses, and this deci- sion provides that. "There has really been a divi- sion at the trial level for five years now on this issue," says Sean Bawden, a partner with Kelly San- tini LLP. Bawden was not involved in the case. "And so it's really the first time that the Court of Appeal has looked at those trial level decisions and picked a winner and really said unequivocally whether the word benefits must be used," he says. "The clarity from that decision alone is just priceless to be honest." In the case, Julia Wood, a sales and event planner, was terminated along with other employees after her employer, Fred Deeley Im- ports, was bought out by Harley- Davidson Canada in 2015. The employer gave Wood, who had worked for the company since 2007, 13 weeks working notice and See All, page 2 Landon Young says an Ontario Court of Appeal decision makes it clear that termination clauses will fail if they exclude a continuation of benefits. Photo: Robin Kuniski Lower courts issued diverging opinions Decision clarifies termination clauses Robert Shawyer says a forthcoming report by former chief justice of the Ontario Court of Justice Annemarie Bonkalo should consider that giving paralegals the unfettered right to practise family law could lead to problems. Follow A DAILY BLOG OF CANADIAN LEGAL NEWS LEGALFEEDS.CA FEEDS LEGAL POWERED BY Untitled-1 1 2017-02-28 2:19 PM e: Litigation Support Our Document Management Services include: Scanning • Indexing • OCR (Optical Character Recognition) • Electronic Document Capture and More - Call Us, We Can Help! ntitled-1 1 2014-09-26 9:29 AM

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