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Sound Legal Advice Can Strengthen Your Business

By Bryan C. Haynes

In a recent article in The Globe and Mail,Forget the fees, this is why businesses need sound legal advice,” Chris Griffiths discusses how sound legal advice can strengthen your business.

More specifically, he discusses the value of engaging good legal counsel who is capable of going beyond providing limited, technical advice on isolated legal matters (which is a given) to also providing more general advice on your overall business and personal affairs and objectives. This more general advice could include coaching and education on potential risks and alternative options and solutions as well as leveraging his or her network when and if other specialized expertise is required. (more…)

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Unpaid Internships in Ontario – Are They a Thing of the Past?

By Talia K. Bregman and Carl Cunningham

On March 28, 2014, two popular Canadian-based magazines, The Walrus and Toronto Life, brought their unpaid internship programs abruptly to an end after Ontario’s Ministry of Labour concluded that such programs were being run in contravention of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (Ontario). The Ministry reached this conclusion when an inspection last December revealed that the magazines were not, amongst other things, paying all of their interns. According to the Ministry, the general rule is that all interns must be paid and must receive other entitlements pursuant to the Act unless the interns perform work under a program approved by a college of applied arts and technology or a university. Another exception to the general rule exists if all of the following conditions are met:  (more…)

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Advisory Boards Contribute to the Success of Business

By Bryan C. Haynes

In a recent article in the Financial Post,Advisory boards boost Canadian small businesses, but only 6% use one, study says,” Armina Ligaya describes how advisory boards can make a difference in your business.

According to a study conducted by the Business Development Bank of Canada of 1000 small and medium sized businesses in Canada, those with advisory boards are more productive and experience higher growth rates. Advisory boards are found to contribute significantly in the areas of innovation, risk management, vision and profitability. In sum, advisory boards are found to better inform the decision making of entrepreneurs. However, only 6% of those surveyed have advisory boards and only 19% have boards of directors (which can perform a similar oversight function). (more…)

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Canadian Court Certifies Visa/Mastercard Class Action Critical Takeaways

By Emrys Davis

Yesterday, Chief Justice Bauman released public reasons certifying the Visa/MasterCard price-fixing class actions. Our full update on his decision is available here. But the critical takeaways from his decision are as follows:

  1. Plaintiffs can’t link non-statutory claims (like tort and restitutionary claims) to breaches of the Competition Act. When the Competition Act makes conduct, such as price-fixing, unlawful, plaintiffs may only pursue remedies for that unlawful conduct under the statutory cause of action in the Competition Act. They cannot also argue that those unlawful acts found causes of action for parasitic tort claims like unlawful means conspiracy, unjust enrichment and waiver of tort.
  2. Minimal scrutiny of expert evidence does not mean no scrutiny. Rather, certification judges may consider evidence from defendants’ experts and evaluate whether they have exposed any fatal flaws in the plaintiff’s expert evidence that have gone unanswered. But so long as plaintiff’s expert answers those criticisms, plaintiffs will likely meet the “some basis in fact” test for commonality of loss-based issues.
  3. This decision continues the trend in which the courts appear determined to lower the bar to certification, avoid any assessment of the merits at the certification stage, and push class actions toward a determination on the merits. As a result, tenuous claims may face more motions for summary judgment on the heels of certification.
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Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Confirms Rectification Cannot Remedy Unanticipated Tax Consequences

By Alison Gray

The recent decision of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Graymar Equipment (2008) Inc v Canada (Attorney General), 2014 ABQB 154 is an important reminder of the limited nature of the equitable remedy of rectification in tax avoidance cases.

In Graymar, Graymar Equipment (2008) Inc (“Graymar”) and FRPD Investments Limited Partnership (“FRPDI”), applied for approval of a Plan of Arrangement pursuant to the Alberta Business Corporations Act, RSA 2000, c B-9, which contemplated the rectification of a prior transaction due to unanticipated tax consequences.  The Attorney General of Canada opposed the application. (more…)

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Foreign policy vs. corporate interests in Russia [BNN Headline - Milos Barutciski]

[March 25, 2014] BNN Headline – A battle is brewing between Canadian companies with interests in Russia and the federal government, which says corporate interests have to take a back seat to foreign policy. BNN talks about the fallout with Milos Barutciski, Partner & Co-Chair, International Trade & Investment, Bennett Jones.

Used with permission from BNN.com

“Foreign policy vs. corporate interests in Russia.” BNN Headline. Online video clip. BNN.com Accessed on 25 March 2014. <http://watch.bnn.ca/headline/headline-march-2014/headline-march-25-2014/#clip1076237>

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Canada’s Economic Sanctions Against Russia and the Ukraine

By Milos Barutciski and Laura Murray

On March 17, 2014, Canada enacted economic sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials that have been identified as being responsible for undermining the sovereignty of Ukraine and facilitating Russian military action against Ukraine. The situation in the Ukraine remains volatile and companies carrying on business with or in the Ukraine and Russia must be attentive to the likelihood that additional sanctions may be imposed by the Government of Canada and the international community in response to future actions of the Russian and Crimean governments. (more…)

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How the Madrid Protocol, Singapore Treaty and Nice Agreement Will Affect Trademark Owners

By Bonnie D. Headley

On January 27, 2014, a number of international intellectual property related treaties were tabled by the Canadian government. This is the first procedural step towards ratification and implementation. Once implemented, these treaties will have a significant impact on trademark owners and how their rights are obtained internationally.

The tabled treaties of greatest importance to trademark owners are the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (Madrid Protocol), the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks (Singapore Treaty) and the Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks (Nice Agreement). The following is a brief summary of the provisions of these treaties. (more…)

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Myth of Trial No Longer Governs: Alberta Embraces New Summary Judgment Test

By Peter D. Banks, Scott H.D. Bower and Russell J. Kruger

Effecting a cultural shift, a new summary judgment test has been embraced by the Alberta Court of Appeal in Windsor v Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd, 2014 ABCA 108 [Windsor]. This new test will make it easier to obtain summary judgment, which is a final disposition of a lawsuit without having to go through a full trial.

Windsor follows the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent ruling in Hryniak v Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7 [Hryniak]. In Hryniak, the Supreme Court considered the Ontario summary judgment rule and overruled earlier authority that largely restricted the availability of summary judgment. The Supreme Court described summary judgment as a legitimate alternative model of dispute adjudication, rather than simply a method of weeding out unmeritorious claims. The procedure is intended to provide litigants with a less expensive and more timely method of obtaining access to justice, and dispose of the need for a full trial in appropriate cases. (more…)

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Supreme Court of Canada to Decide if a Lawyer Subject to Enforcement Proceedings can Claim Solicitor-Client Privilege

By Alison J. Gray

The Supreme Court of Canada recently granted leave to appeal in Minister of National Revenue v Duncan Thompson, 2013 FCA 197, which touches on the issue of whether a lawyer subject to enforcement proceedings can claim solicitor-client privilege over his accounts receivable.

Thompson was a lawyer, and the subject of enforcement proceedings pursuant to the Income Tax Act. The CRA issued a Requirement seeking information and documents pertaining Thompson’s income and expenses, and assets and liabilities, including a current accounts receivable listing. Thompson provided some, but not all, of the information set out in the Requirement. In particular, he had provided no details regarding his accounts receivable other than a total balance owing. (more…)

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