NEWSLETTER – November 2013
Heather Michelin, President
Allen Mendelsohn and Larry Markowitz, Editor(s)
Honourable Judges and Colleagues,
The Lord Reading Law Society began its 65th season with an enlightening and informative lecture by The Honourable Mr. Justice Guy Gagnon of the Québec Court of Appeal, who spoke on the topic of “Has the adversarial system in Quebec reached its limits?”. It was truly a privilege having Justice Gagnon address us. Thank you for participating in such great numbers, your attendance helped to make the evening a resounding success.
Our annual Henry Steinberg Memorial Lecture will take place on November 12th, 2013 when we will welcome three judges from the Municipal Court of Montréal: President Judge The Honourable Morton S. Minc, The Honourable Nathalie Haccoun, and The Honourable Richard Starck. Their topic will be: “The Municipal Court of Montréal – Past, Present and Future”. We are delighted that the Chief Justice of Québec, The Honourable Nicole Duval Hesler of the Québec Court of Appeal will introduce this distinguished panel of judges. The Municipal Court of Montréal hears a wide variety of cases, and has implemented several important social programs that reflect the needs of urban society. This promises to be a very interesting evening and I sincerely hope that you will join us. We have offered twenty dinner reservations to law students at a reduced rate and look forward to continuing to host law students whenever possible. The lecture has been approved by the Barreau du Québec for 1.5 hours of CLE accreditation. Special thanks to our generous sponsor, Robinson Sheppard Shapiro.
The Society is in the process of finalizing its programming for the 2013-2014 season, and we invite you to mark the following dates in your calendar: On February 4, 2014 we will hold our Annual Students’ Dinner. Our very own Communications Director, Me Allen Mendelsohn, will address us on the topic “Copyright and creativity on the internet: can they co-exist?”. This will be a wonderful opportunity to introduce students, stagiaires and new lawyers to the Society in the hope that they will become engaged and involved participants in the Society’s future events. On June 9, 2014, we will hold our annual Human Rights Lecture. The Society’s Human Rights Award is given to an individual who has demonstrated a sustained contribution to, or has been influential in the advancement of human rights and fundamental freedoms. We are delighted to announce that the Society’s Human Rights Award will be bestowed upon The Honourable Morris Fish, who recently retired from the Supreme Court of Canada. At that time we will also have the special honour of being addressed by The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C., Chief Justice of Canada.
Finally, I thoroughly enjoyed serving on the Young Bar Association of Montreal’s jury panel for the selection of “Les Leaders de Demain” for their upcoming gala. It was an honour to participate, and I was proud to do so as a representative of The Lord Reading Law Society. I wish all the finalists the best of luck!
I look forward to seeing all of you on November 12th.
Guy Gagnon, J.C.A. speaks at the Alan B. Gold Advocacy Lecture
On October 3rd, on the occasion of the annual Alan B. Gold Advocacy lecture, the Society was pleased to welcome The Honourable Mr. Justice Guy Gagnon of the Court of Appeal of Québec, who spoke on the topic of “Has the adversarial system in Quebec reached its limits?” The evening was a wonderful success, both in the interesting topic by an engaging speaker and in the very large turnout that has become commonplace at the Society.
After remarks by the President, who welcomed several members of the Gold family, the speaker was introduced by fellow Court of Appeals Justice The Honourable Nicholas Kasirer. Justice Kasirer did a wonderful job linking Justice Gagnon and the late Justice Gold, highlighting the numerous things they had in common, both professionally and personally.
After acknowledging the contributions of the past three female Society Presidents and welcoming many of his fellow justices, Justice Gagnon began his talk with some self-deprecating humour, warning the audience they would have to deal with his “accent du Nord”. He joked that it was ok though, given that another person with the same accent had risen to the ranks of Prime Minister.
Justice Gagnon insisted that despite the title of his talk he would not launch into a full-on critique of the judicial system, and he was true to his word. He did outline several significant issues however, notably the issue of accessibility. He reminded the audience that a good justice system needs to be accessible to all, have reasonable costs, and have acceptable time frames. Chief Justices have constantly examined the issues of costs and delays, and the accessibility issue, probably the most fundamental, is Québec’s principal difficulty.
Justice Gagnon highlighted how certain types of cases, including class action suits, fundamental rights issues, and environmental cases, have become more and more complex and costly thus lengthening trial times and reducing accessibility. He lamented how even for simple issues, two-day trials have become the norm, and that trials that last months are no longer rare; even Court of Appeals hearings can now take days. These issues mean that the justice system should take any steps that would improve the efficiency of the system.
Including procedural changes that could be brought, in addition to what’s been accomplished already, Justice Gagnon stressed that the judicial actors, especially attorneys, need to be more conciliatory and open. If they don’t we will probably see more full case management from beginning to end. This would lead to the decline of the principle that the lawyer is master of his file. Justice Gagnon said lawyers should take a more active role in seeking settlements, thus we could avoid the crowded emergency room situation, to use his analogy.
This led to a discussion of a measure Justice Gagnon thought should be part of our justice system, the “pre-action protocol” (le “protocole préjudiciaire”) which has been implemented in England. Its objective is to facilitate exchange of information between the parties at the outset of a litigation file, and encourage settlements, by setting out codes for sensible practices in specific areas of litigation. It would make the system more efficient, settle disputes faster, and reduce costs.
Justice Gagnon ended with a plea to the lawyers in the room to take a more active role in settling disputes. He said this would actually lead to lawyers having better control over their files, and creating a more favourable context for all parties, including their own clients, as costs would be drastically reduced. This would help everyone have a better overall opinion of the justice system.
The Society Mourns a Past President
The Society is deeply saddened at the passing of Arnold Isaacson, President of the Society during the 1999-2000 season. Me Isaacson will be remembered as the first notary to serve as President of The Lord Reading Law Society, and for the numerous initiatives he undertook during his term which include creation of both the newsletter and the Society’s pin, and the initiation of our sponsorship programs. Me Isaacson was also the first President to recognize the need for a Society website, a project which would come to fruition in the years that followed.
Me Isaacson was a valued member of the legal community, a strong supporter of the Society and he will be missed. The Society extends its sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
CLE Conference – Trial Practices Do’s and Don’ts on November 7th
The 5th annual “Trial Practice Do’s and Don’ts: Hot Tips from the Experts” CLE Conference of the English-Speaking Section of the Montreal Bar will take place on Thursday, November 7th from 4:00 – 6:00 pm in Room 5.15 of the Montreal Court House. The theme this year is “The Challenges of Self-Represented Litigants in Our Judicial System”. Self-represented litigants have become a reality in every area of litigation to-day – a reality which presents new problems for and challenges to the trial lawyer and trial judge alike. The panel of four distinguished jurists – the Honourable Carol Cohen, j.c.s., Me Natasha Calixte, Me Martin J. Greenberg, and Me Peter Kalichman – will address these problems and challenges from varying perspectives.
For more information and to register online, please visit the Barreau de Montréal website.
News from the Mishpuchah
- To Society Executive member Robert Rapp on the birth of his daughter
- To Society Executive Director Morris Chaikelson on his grandson’s bar mitzvah
- To Past President Casper Bloom on the loss of his sister Elissa Brazer