Law Society of Ontario v. Findlay, 2019 ONLSTH 70
This is a decision revoking the licence to practice law of the lawyer, Mr. Findlay, effective immediately. Mr. Findlay was legal counsel for plaintiffs in a class action in 2016 against several parties, including the OPP and Ontario government, was settled for $20 million. Mr. Findlay received a cheque in that amount and was to retain $1.5 million in a trust until distribution of funds. The amount grew because of investments and the court ordered the amount to be held in reserve for over $2 million. The court approved fees for class counsel of 15% and about $3.4 million was moved from the trust to Mr. Findlay for fees and disbursements. He notified the Law Society in 2017 that he had used the funds and was unable to replenish the funds. The Law Society commenced an investigation and proved that the money had bene stolen. Mr. Findlay admitted he used the funds for his own benefit between March 2012 and October 2014. The decision held that Mr. Findlay breached court order, misled the court, misled the counsel for the AG of Ontario, and misled the Law Society. The decision outlines that there is a presumptive penalty of revocation for knowing participation in fraud or misappropriation; exceptional circumstances must exist to justify departure from the penalty. Mr. Findlay had done this before and his was suspended from practice for two years. He was ordered to pay $1.75 million for the class action compensation fund and $51,500 for costs to the Law Society.
Peddle v. Halifax Employers Association, 2019 FC 767
Mr. Peddle sought judicial review of a decision of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, dismissing his complaint against the respondent. The application was dismissed. Mr. Peddle alleged in the original complaint that the respondent discriminated against him on the grounds of disability. The commission appointed an investigator who reviewed the parties’ positions and interviewed Mr. Peddle. The investigator completed the investigation and recommend that the complaint be dismissed on the grounds that further inquiry was not warranted. The investigation found that Mr. Peddle had not demonstrated a reasonable basis to believe that the commission’s conduct was discriminatory on basis of colour or race or that someone no better qualified or more eligible but lacking Mr. Peddle’s characteristic based upon colour or race had obtained the employment opportunity. The investigator also concluded Mr. Peddle did not identify what accommodation was required in the interview; communicate to the commission a need for accommodation; and demonstrate that the commission should have known of a need for accommodation in the interview. The commission dismissed the complaint. The court held that the decision is reviewable on a standard of reasonableness. The court held that where the commission adopts the investigator’s recommendations and provides no reasons, or only brief reasons, the investigator’s report is deemed to constitute the commission’s reasons.
Ewert v. Canada (Attorney General), 2019 FC 733
This is an application for judicial review by a prisoner for a series of decisions that impacted his time spent in prison and various requests to change institutional parole officer, access to information (broadly speaking), errors and inaccuracies in his documents prepared for a hearing before the Parole Board of Canada. He alleges several violations of procedural fairness. The court summarized the issues as:
- Was the final grievance decision in violation of the rules of procedural fairness?
- Is the final grievance decision reasonable?
A standard of correctness is applied to questions of procedural fairness arising from offender grievance decisions. The merits of an inmate grievance; however, are reviewed on a standard of reasonableness, with high level of deference given to correctional service. The prisoner alleges bias. The prisoner alleges bias because the assistant commissioner had been involved in previous adversarial litigation and also upheld the final grievance being challenged in part. The time frame between the involvement between two proceedings (4 years), the overlap in testimony in both proceedings, and the prior knowledge in both proceedings gave rise to bias. The application was granted in part.