La force de la perspective

The Canadian Bar Association

Alexander Gay

Arbitration

Arbitration and the challenge of maintaining confidentiality in Canada

Par Alexander Gay novembre 24, 2017 24 novembre 2017

Arbitration and the challenge of maintaining confidentiality in Canada

Confidentiality is often touted as one of the key benefit of arbitration.  But the promise of confidentiality is a tricky matter in Canada, where the open court principle is enshrined. The tension arises when courts find themselves in a position where they require access to documents produced during an arbitration proceeding.

And yet, the courts have a role to play in supporting arbitration.  They must be sensitive to the appeal commercial arbitration holds for parties and be mindful that a legal system that allows easy disclosure of confidential information risks undermining it.  What’s more, in a context where the courts are over-burdened with Jordan applications and where arbitration affords an opportunity to alleviate some of these pressures, the courts need to reach a delicate balance between the open court principle and the confidentiality provisions of an arbitration agreement.

In Ontario, the Arbitration Act and the International Commercial Arbitration Act contain a number of provisions that allow arbitration issues to be put before the courts.  The same holds true in almost all other provincial jurisdictions.

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Technology

The use of predictive coding in Canada

Par Alexander Gay octobre 30, 2017 30 octobre 2017

The use of predictive coding in Canada

 

The last few decades have seen an explosion of electronic information which counsel must manage to meet production obligations under the Rules of Civil Procedure.  These obligations remain intense and costly.  Technology can help to lessen the burden, such as keyword searches.  Perhaps the most promising tool to help us tame the electronic information beast is “technology-assisted review,” also called predictive coding.  However, to reach its full potential will require wider acceptance of this review method by counsel and the courts.

Predictive coding is a method where software analyses documents and ranks them for relevance.  Typically, parties agree on a protocol or a methodology in advance.  A representative sample of potentially relevant documents is then drawn from the database.  We call these “seed documents”.   A lawyer will review the initial sample, then rate its relevance to "train" the software to review the whole production.  There is then further statistical sampling to ensure that the exercise is fully responsive.  Once it reaches an acceptable level of accuracy, the software then categorizes all the documents for the parties, without the parties having to manually review any more documents.  

While it all sounds complicated, it is not. And predictive coding has a number of important advantages. It costs a fraction of what it would to review documents manually.  It is faster and more accurate than traditional document review. 

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Litigation

Expert shopping: Paying the price

Par Alexander Gay septembre 21, 2017 21 septembre 2017

Expert shopping: Paying the price

 

Expert shopping is an all-too-common practice that undermines the legal system as a whole.  It can it result in egregious miscarriages of justice and undermines the confidence in the judicial system.

In 2015 the Supreme Court sounded warning bells on the misuse of expert evidence in its White Burgess ruling and opened the door for challenging witnesses at the voir dire stage for bias. But we have to consider more radical solutions to temper what can only be described as an unsavory practice by counsel.  The manner in which expert evidence is handled in the United Kingdom offers some clues that may assist us in tracing a path forward.      

The root of the problem is that we pay experts to provide testimony.  When counsel do not get full co-operation, or receive evidence that is not as favourable to their case as they would like, they can move on to the next expert and bury the first expert’s conclusions in his or her files.  Litigation privilege shields them from informing the court on the number of experts that have been consulted.  

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Litigation privilege

Does litigation privilege always apply to internal investigations?

Par Alexander Gay mai 19, 2017 19 mai 2017

Does litigation privilege always apply to internal investigations?

 

Lawyers are often asked whether a given communication is subject to litigation privilege. In answering this question, lawyers have to assess the facts and objectively determine whether the dominant purpose of a communication is in respect of litigation that is contemplated, anticipated or ongoing.

The issue is far more tenuous, however, in criminal matters.   The question is whether all internal investigations in respect of a contemplated, anticipated or ongoing criminal investigation are privileged.  Determining when litigation is being contemplated calls for different considerations that have yet to be fully considered by the courts in Canada.  But a recent decision from England’s High Court recent may come as a surprise to in-house counsel who assume that litigation privilege is more encompassing than it may really be.  

The basic rule is that litigation privilege applies to communications between a lawyer and third parties or a client and third parties, or to communications generated by the lawyer or client for the dominant purpose of litigation when litigation is contemplated, anticipated or ongoing.

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Droit corporatif

Les règles entourant la responsabilité des entreprises doivent refléter la nouvelle réalité

Par Alexander Gay avril 21, 2017 21 avril 2017

Les règles entourant la responsabilité des entreprises doivent refléter la nouvelle réalité

 

Ces derniers mois, la responsabilité des sociétés a beaucoup fait parler d’elle dans les cours de justice. Des requérants sont en quête d’avenues juridiques différentes pour attribuer la responsabilité légale à des sociétés apparentées. Deux causes récentes ont retenu notre attention : Yaiguaje c. Chevron Corporation et Garcia c. Tahoe Resources Inc.. La première porte sur la levée du voile corporatif, tandis que la seconde concerne l’attribution de la responsabilité d’une filiale à sa société mère en droit de la responsabilité délictuelle.

Ces causes sont ancrées dans des théories juridiques non adaptées à la réalité du monde corporatif moderne, au sein duquel les sociétés apparentées agissent de concert, comme un groupe, tout en jouissant d’une responsabilité limitée. Le défi, pour les tribunaux, est de trouver une théorie juridique qui permette aux sociétés de fonctionner comme des entités légales distinctes tout en étant imputables des actions des sociétés apparentées de leur groupe dans certaines circonstances.

La corporation est un sous-produit d’une société qui a besoin d’un véhicule légal pour faciliter l’accumulation de capital. Les architectes juridiques de cette construction ont voulu séparer les actionnaires des administrateurs, les premiers pouvant investir sans encourir de responsabilité, et les seconds pouvant prendre des décisions dans l’intérêt de la société. Au fil du temps, plusieurs corporations se sont regroupées au sein d’une société pour agir de concert. Elles sont ainsi devenues les actionnaires d’autres sociétés et une structure complexe s’est développée.

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