Insurers risk hefty bill if they (erroneously) conclude they have no duty to defend

Insurance companies who conclude that they have no duty to defend an insurer facing an action, and by extension no obligation to indemnify, risk being surprised with a hefty bill, following a ruling by the Quebec Court of Appeal.

In a ruling that repeatedly hammers the distinction between a liability insurer’s duty to defend with its obligation to indemnify, the appeal court warns insurance companies that it cannot come to the hasty conclusion that it has no duty to indemnify simply because it has no duty to defend.

Continue reading “Insurers risk hefty bill if they (erroneously) conclude they have no duty to defend”

Quebec Appeal Court overturns ruling dealing with Mulroney-Schreiber affair

The Quebec Court of Appeal overturned a ruling that temporarily suspended a civil suit launched by German-Canadian lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber against former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney until the so-called Oliphant inquiry delivered its final report.

Schreiber filed a suit based on a verbal contract he alleges he reached with Mulroney in Hull, a town located across from the nation’s capital. But the 74-year old deal maker sought to suspend the suit, arguing that his examination before a public inquiry could cause him harm as Mulroney could use information obtained in the course of examination against him. Continue reading “Quebec Appeal Court overturns ruling dealing with Mulroney-Schreiber affair”

Quebec minister has wide powers over immigration rules appeal court

The Quebec government has wide discretionary powers to issue selection certificates to foreign nationals seeking to settle permanently in the province, according to two rulings issued concurrently in related matters by the Quebec Court of Appeal.

Indeed, the Court points out that under the Act respecting immigration to Québec (the Act), the Quebec Minister of Immigration and Cultural Communities can issue selection certificates to applicants who do not satisfy conditions and selection of criteria established by government policy, or refuse applicants who meet the conditions. Continue reading “Quebec minister has wide powers over immigration rules appeal court”

Elderly molester to serve sentence in seniors home

A 93-year old man who sexually abused his daughters nearly fifty years go was condemned to two years less a day to be served in the community due to his advanced age and health problems.

Philippe Hamelin, convicted on a number of charges, including incest, sexual molestation and assault causing bodily harm for incidents that took place between 1956 and 1963, is now deaf and nearly blind, has skin cancer and suffers from a disease akin to Alzheimer’s.

The Crown was seeking a prison sentence of between seven and nine years while Hamelin’s lawyer had asked for two years less a day in the community.

Quebec Court Judge André Perreault decided against a prison sentence because of Perrault’s frail health.

“Mr. Hamelin might very well have been given that seven-year sentence if the decision needed to have been made during the decades that followed the crimes, even if he were old and had certain health problems,” Justice Perreault, noting that the convicted molester was unrepentant. “Only the exceptional circumstances I have described regarding Mr. Hamelin’s current health lead me to stray so far, and for humanitarian reasons, from imposing a normal sentence.”

Dealing with the elderly is a thorny issue that the justice system must grapple with, sooner or later. In Canada, older offenders account for 13% of the offender population. A 2004 report by the U.S. National Institute of Corrections found that the number of state and federal prisoners ages 50 or older rose 172 percent between 1992 and 2001.

The Correctional Service of Canada noted that “the combination of the physical health problems and the type of health care available at the prison often requires that the older offender be transferred to community medical facilities” – an expensive endeavour.

Another report concludes: “The incarceration of older prisoners, who represent the smallest threat to public safety but the largest cost to taxpayers to imprison, exemplifies failed public policy that favours imprisonment over more cost-effective alternatives.”

England too is wrestling with the issue. Anne Owers, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons since 2001, examined the issue of older prisoners in England and Wales in a comprehensive 126-page report and concluded that “the prison system in general is ill-equipped to meet their needs and its responsibilities.” The prison watchdog recently lamented that little has changed since the report was published four years ago.