The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Yves Faguy

Climate law

Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement: The legal picture

By Yves Faguy June 2, 2017 2 June 2017

Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement: The legal picture

Now that the world has expressed profound regret at President Donald Trump's decision to pull the U.S out of the Paris Climate Agreement, and issued warnings that its terms are non-negotiable, it’s worth pausing to consider what it all means legally.

The most puzzling statement Trump made yesterday is that he wants “a better deal” claiming, “Believe me, we have massive legal liability if we stay in.”

More than a few commentators are calling Trump out on this claim. David Roberts explains:

Paris’s only constraint on Trump comes through intangibles like reputation and influence. It imposes absolutely no practical or legal constraint on his actions — not on trade policy, not on domestic energy policy, nothing.

That means all talk of Paris being a “bad deal” for the US, or hurting US trade, or affecting the US coal industry in any way, is nonsense. Paris does not and cannot do any of those things.

Indeed, though the treaty is technically binding under international law, it is built aound mostly non-binding undertakings. Yes, it requires countries to report on their progress, but the targets themselves are not legally binding. Michael Grunwald offers his best guess at the real motives behind the decision:

Read More
BC election

What if BC can't elect a new Speaker?

By Yves Faguy May 31, 2017 31 May 2017

What if BC can't elect a new Speaker?

 

 

Faced with two options  — resign now or face defeat on a confidence vote — BC Premier Christy Clark has made it clear that she is going the latter route.  She has stated, however, that she will recall the legislature for a vote soon, and won't ask the province’s Lieutenant Governor for a new election if defeated.  So far, there is little controversy surrounding her decision, at least from a legal point of view.  Even or political opponents, NDP leader John Horgan and Green Party leader Andrew Weaver have acknowledged her right to have the first opportunity at forming a government. 

But by forcing the vote of no confidence, is the premier not just putting off the inevitable?

Perhaps not. For starters, the NDP-Green Party pact could always fall apart. It’s also worth pausing to consider an intriguing possibility raised by James Bowden. The new legislature may not be able to elect a new Speaker:

Read More
Climate law

Moving to a low-carbon economy is the future story of growth

By Yves Faguy May 29, 2017 29 May 2017

Moving to a low-carbon economy is the future story of growth

 

OECD countries should work to raise the cost of carbon emissions to US$100 per metric ton by 2030 to meet pledges made under the Paris Climate Agreement to keep global temperatures from rising above 2°C.

That’s according to a report released in Berlin today by The High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices, led by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Lord Nicholas Stern:

The proposed federal pricing in Canada would see a mandatory minimum floor price of CAN$50/ton in 2022. (Carbon should be priced at US$40-$80 per ton by 2020, says the Stiglitz-Stern report).

In China, Russia, Brazil, and South Africa the price of carbon in the power and industrial sectors should rise to US$75/tCO2 by 2030, in conjunction with a phasedown of fossil fuel subsidies.

The economists make the case that effective pricing carbon will help drive innovation in technologies and new business models, and therefore ultimately  boost productivity.

Read More
Legal information

A new player in Canada's legal information market

By Yves Faguy May 24, 2017 24 May 2017

A new player in Canada's legal information market

 

Distilling large amounts of complex information for others has always been part of what lawyers do.  But even they need help finding it, which is why providing legal information is such a big part of the legal services business.

Over the last decade, the two main players in this space in Canada, LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters, have done just that, and more, by betting on technology to support lawyers in firms and law departments in applying their legal knowledge.

Now, a new competitor hopes to shake-up the space. Earlier this month, Compass, the new Canadian legal research platform — and new incarnation — of Maritime Law Book, announced that vLex, a Barcelona and Miami-based legal publisher, and California-based Justia were taking a stake in the company.

Read More
Legal innovation

Connecting hearts and minds in your law firm's data strategy

By Yves Faguy May 23, 2017 23 May 2017

Connecting hearts and minds in your law firm's data strategy

 

Scott Mozarsky of Bloomberg BNA shares his views on big data and analytics disrupting the legal sector in a recent Forbes interview.  Here he discusses how data helps guide GCs in retaining external firms:

Selecting and retaining outside counsel used to be a lot more about art than science. Pre-existing relationships and referrals often drove decisions regarding representation by outside counsel. Data and technology have changed the selection process and made it much more scientific. Analytical tools allow clients to see which firms have represented clients in different jurisdictions and in front of different judges as well as the type of transactions and cases they have worked on.

As a general counsel, when my company was sued in a jurisdiction outside of the norm or if we were working on a deal involving a unique type of target or state or local law issues, I would call my contacts and ask for referrals. Now, in a matter of minutes, I can figure out the two or three most experienced choices to fit my fact pattern. Also, with significant budget pressure on in-house teams, transparency driven by data and technology often enable outside counsel to save fees by identifying experienced and effective outside counsel from mid-sized firms or from firms that are not based in large cities.

Indeed, law is becoming digitized, Mark Cohen writes, though law firms have so far failed in keeping up with the dramatic changes occurring in the marketplace:

Read More