BARE BONES BRIEFS: Pandemic spurs unprecedented satisfaction with lawyers | Non-humans can be patent ‘inventors’ | SCC revisits statutory interpretation? | EU declares open season for environmental challenges | Best of: law firm webinars & bulletins

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By Julius Melnitzer | October 29, 2021

CLIENT SATISFACTION WITH LAWYERS PEAKS DURING PANDEMIC

A UK survey suggests the inability to meet lawyers in person has, at the very least, not diminished clients’ satisfaction with their services. Indeed, according to the Law Society Gazette, satisfaction levels reached an all-time high during the pandemic.

The Legal Services Consumer Panel tracker survey found an 83 percent satisfaction level with services and 89 percent satisfaction with outcomes. This was up from 79 percent and 84 percent, respectively, in 2012, the previous all-time high, set in the first year of the survey.

Online service use rose from 21 percent in 2012 to 44 percent in 2021. So the question remains: is avoiding face-to-face contact with clients now a valid marketing strategy?

Related Article: Don’t get too excited about the latest Canadian law firm rankings

Patent “inventors” needn’t be human: Federal Court of Australia

The Federal Court of Australia has ruled that AI systems can be legally recognized as inventors in patent applications. The decision comes just days after South Africa awarded a patent recognizing the artificial neural system in question, called “DABUS”, as an inventor. DABUS creator Stephen Thaler told media that the issue is a “philosophical battle” focused on “convincing humanity that my creative neural architectures are compelling models of cognition, creativity, sentience and consciousness.”

Related article: Meeting the AI Challenge

SCC TURNING STATUTORY INTERPRETATION ON ITS HEAD?

For years, Canadian courts and advocates have proceeded on the basis that statutory interpretation requires that lists found in legislation and regulations be treated as illustrative, as opposed to limiting. But have a gander at SCC Justice Côté’s concurring majority judgment in Canada v. Canada North Group, paragraph 63 in particular. Here’s one lawyer’s take on it:

“Justice Côté’s limited interpretation of what a ‘security interest’ means based on the examples given in the statute in issue suggests that a statutory list of ‘animals’ giving dogs, cats and mice as examples might mean that elephants or fish are excluded,” says Andrea Boctor in Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP’s Toronto office.

Related Story: Ontario Court of Appeal ruling highlights interpretation of termination clauses

EU GRANTS ENVIRONMENTALISTS BROAD ACCESS TO COURTS

Ten years of litigation has led to the European Parliament declaring open season on environmental litigation against the EU.

In October, the EP amended the access to justice Aarhus Regulation, which had allowed only NGOs to sue and only in limited circumstances. The amendments remove these restrictions, meaning that anyone can challenge a wide range of environmental rulings, including those related to harmful pesticides, diesel engine emissions, and fishing limits.

CAN’T MISS LAW FIRM WEBINARS

Employment Law: Mathews Dinsdale, COVID-19 and Vaccines Update: What an Employer Needs to Know

Employment Law: MLT Aikins, 2021 MB Labour & Employment Law Update

Financial Institutions: Torys, The banks’ approach to commercial clients under the new regulations

Privacy: McMillan, Annual Privacy, Data Protection and Cybersecurity Seminar

CAN’T MISS LAW FIRM BULLETINS

Construction Law: McInnes Cooper, N.B. Construction Remedies Act: 7 Key Changes from the Mechanics Lien Act

Corporate Governance: McMillan, “Say on Climate” – – – Key Considerations in Implementing Shareholder Votes on Climate

Employment Law: McInnes Cooper, 5 Key COVID-19 Employment Litigation Learnings

Environmental Law: Gowlings, B.C.’s changing landscape for industrial and commercial property transactions: what you need to know about the recent amendments to BC’s contaminated sites regime

Intellectual Property, McMillan: NFTS and Canadian Copyright Law

Julius Melnitzer is a Toronto-based legal affairs writer, ghostwriter, writing coach and media trainer. Readers can reach him at julius@legalwriter.net or https://legalwriter.net/contact.

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