Mandatory retirement clauses breach Quebec Charter, rules court

Professional services firms that have mandatory retirement policies and provisions that require partners to divest their ownership shares solely on the basis of age are discriminatory and in breach of the Quebec Charter of human rights and freedoms held Quebec Superior Court in a ruling that has the legal community buzzing over its implications.

In a case that pitted a Montreal municipal and labour and employment law firm against its founder, the decision by Quebec Superior Court Justice Stéphane Lacoste is expected to have wider repercussions than the thorny issue of mandatory retirement, according to legal observers. Following the decision in DHC Avocats inc. c. Dufresne, 2022 QCCS 58, typical arrangements made by professional services firms in succession planning such as “unpartnering” or changing the status of their senior partners while still allowing them to work in the firm may be called into question, added legal experts. Continue reading “Mandatory retirement clauses breach Quebec Charter, rules court”

Quebec Bar unveils report on sexual harassment in the legal profession

Half of Quebec female lawyers have been subjected to sexual harassment, a third of Quebec lawyers were the subject of unwanted sexual conduct, and 4.2 per cent of women suffered “negative consequences” for refusing to engage in sexual activities. Approximately one per cent of lawyers who were the subject of sexual misconduct reached out to police.

So reveals a report unveiled by the Quebec Bar, three years after it was launched. Only 14 per cent of Quebec Bar members, or 3785 members out of 28,000 lawyers in the roll, responded to the survey.

Following the 76-page report, the Barreau du Québec intends to launch free training on harassment and sexual violence, and is considering making it compulsory. A committee will examine other options.

Here is the report (en français).

Privacy commissioner launches consultation on artificial intelligence

The chief executive of Alphabet and Google made it plain. Artificial intelligence needs to be regulated. It is too important not to, wrote Sundar Pichai in a Financial Times opinion piece.

“The only question is how to approach it,” said Pichai succinctly.

That’s what the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) is grappling with as well.

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Blockchain operationalization

The federal government is cautiously wading in. Enticed by the promise of blockchain to simplify the management of trusted information in a secure fashion, the Canada Border Services Agency and the Port of Montreal, the country’s second-biggest port, are now testing a blockchain-enabled digital solution to see if it will streamline freight shipping. Several provincial governments too are swayed by the prospect of being able to better deliver government digital services, beginning with the British Columbia which launched OrgBook BC, a new blockchain-powered online search tool that allows users to verify if businesses and organizations are legally incorporated in the province.

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Workplace investigations: Elephant in the room

Kenneth Jull has done them. So has Paul Klasios and Philippe Dufort-Langlois. All are or were at one time in-house counsel who have conducted internal investigations, an unpleasant exercise described by a lawyer as being a bit of a dark art that presents unique challenges. Nearly every general counsel too will sooner or later face the need to conduct an internal investigation into events at an organization. At a time of greater scrutiny by regulators, stakeholders and the general public, organizations of all sizes and across all sectors are dealing with growing calls demanding greater disclosure and transparency.

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Quebec Court of Appeal overturns labour tribunal’s interpretation of litigation privilege

A ruling by the Quebec Administrative Labour Tribunal that held that litigation privilege applies only in civil matters and in adversarial proceedings but not in an administrative law context before a quasi-judicial tribunal with powers of inquiry was overturned by the Quebec Court of Appeal.

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