Social media and the exclusion of witnesses

I have a column over at this week on the exclusion of witnesses. One of the issues I touch on is the balance between open access to the justice process and social media. At the recent Canadian Forum on Court Technology, the delegates discussed proposed guidelines for the use of electronic communications in the court room. Under the guidelines, the [Read More]

Is there a role for lawyers in fostering civil public discourse?

The political climate is heating up to a boiling point in the United States, with the presidential election next month. The quality of the public discourse in the U.S. in recent years has not risen to very high levels. Of course, there will always be extreme partisan views expressed in any contest for power. However, [Read More]

What is the Latin for “reframing”?

Over at I saw a list of top reads for young leaders. On that list was the book of meditations by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180 C.E.). Although I’m not young, I immediately went to to download a copy. I haven’t progressed very far yet, but came across a very early example of reframing. Aurelius lists what [Read More]

Guidance for Effective Mediation: Consent

The United Nations’ Mediation Support Unit has recently released Guidance for Effective Mediation. The guide covers 8 areas: •Preparedness •Consent •Impartiality •Inclusivity •National ownership •International law and normative frameworks •Coherence, coordination and complementarity of the mediation effort •Quality peace agreements In this post I will focus on consent. “Cultivating Consent” The guide talks about “cultivating” the consent of [Read More]

Implied power to award interest

Many statutes authorize decision-makers to award interest on money owing (e.g., Human Rights Code). Without the explicit provision in a statute, can a decision-maker award interest? The Federal Court of Appeal has recently examined this question. The applicant received retroactive disability payments under the Canada Pension Plan and requested interest or other compensation. The responsible Minister denied the request. The [Read More]

Fables for dispute resolution: the finale

In a recent blog post I highlighted some Aesop’s Fables suitable for dispute resolution. Here are three more. The first one exists in many forms and is often captured by the phrase “a bird in the hand”. The second one can be summarized as “let sleeping dogs lie”. The third one simply points out how silly and [Read More]

Recording of hearings: the sequel

Over at I wrote a column in July on the recording of hearings. In the column I wrote: In a recent case before Public Service Labour Relations Board, a party to the proceeding insisted on taping the hearing. The complainant is reported to have said: “The only reason I want to record it is to actually get [Read More]

The End of Adjudication?

The “vanishing trial” has been well documented and much discussed. In a recent letter to The Advocates Journal, the well-known litigator David W. Scott notes that the replacement of the trial by mediation and arbitration has been fueled (in a significant way) by the high cost of litigation. The high cost of litigation is a [Read More]

Opening Statements: You Can’t Cut and Run

Over at, I have a column on opening statements in adjudication hearings. In the column I talk about the benefits of opening statements by parties and the adjudicator. In this blog I will highlight a case where an intervening party thought that an opening statement was all that it needed to contribute to the hearing. The [Read More]

Seven Habits of Highly Ethical Organizations

After a recent cheating scandal at Harvard, the university is considering introducing an honour code, although some doubt that it will be effective. Codes of Ethics are now commonplace in most large organizations. A Code of Ethics is not sufficient, by itself, to create and maintain an ethical organization. Professor M. Kaptein, a professor at the [Read More]

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