By Julius Melnitzer | September 26, 2023
EX-GOWLING DIRECTOR DISBARRED FOR FANTASY RELATIONSHIP WITH JUNIOR EMPLOYEE
The UK’s Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has struck Oliver Bretherton, a former senior solicitor at Gowling WLG, off the roll for his part in a sexual fantasy relationship with an 18-year-old female colleague. The 70 allegations proved against the married lawyer included exchanging WhatsApp messages with the teenager and sending her a video of him masturbating. The Gazette, which first reported this story, notes that this is likely the first time the SDT has disbarred a solicitor for non-criminal sexual misconduct in the workplace.
LAWYER FINED FOR SHARING JUDGE’S ALLEGED SEXUAL HISTORY WITH CLIENT
The Nanaimo News reports that the Law Society of British Columbia has fined Nanaimo lawyer Brett Vining $7,500 and ordered him to pay $1,000 in costs for sharing a rumour about a judge’s sexual history with a client. The LSBC found Vining’s conduct to be “discourteous, uncivil, offensive or otherwise inconsistent with a lawyer’s obligation to maintain a courteous and respectful attitude toward the court.” Vining’s professional conduct record included mishandling cash receipts in 2021.
Related Article: Bare Bones Briefs: Calling a man “a bald c***” is sexual harassment
REPORTING GENERAL DAMAGE AWARDS TO CRA: DEBATE CONTINUES
Barry Fisher has joined the debate on whether employment lawyers have a duty to report general damages awards in favour of their clients to the Canada Revenue Agency. After pointing out that he’s not a tax lawyer, he opines that “obtaining a tax benefit by using general damages may not always be in strict compliance with the ITA, but it does not appear to be an Avoidance Transaction [one whose primary purpose is to obtain a tax benefit], and therefore must not be reported”. Fisher concedes he “could be wrong”.
Related Article: Courts mature in their approach to GAAR
STERN LANDESMAN ENTITLED TO SUBSTANTIAL INDEMNITY COSTS FOR CLIENT’S “UNFOUNDED ATTACKS”
Ontario’s Divisional Court has upheld an award of substantial indemnity costs in favour of Toronto firm Stern Landesman Clark LLP following its successful defense of an appeal of its clients’ challenge to an assessment of costs. Stern recovered the totality of its claimed costs of more than $85,000 following a three-day hearing before an assessment officer. Justice Fred Myers of the Superior Court of Justice dismissed an appeal from the award. He found that the client had behaved in “a disruptive way”, having ordered that her microphone be muted during parts of the hearing. Myers then awarded costs to the law firm on a substantial indemnity basis because it had served a Rule 49 offer and because of the client’s “unfounded attacks on the integrity and competence” of the lawyers. The Divisional Court found no error in the costs award.
SENIOR ALBERTA MINISTER JOINS BLG
Sonya Savage, who spent four years in the energy, environment and justice portfolios in the Alberta cabinet, has joined Borden Ladner Gervais LLP as senior counsel. She developed Alberta’s 2023 climate strategy, as well as the province’s legal, policy and fiscal frameworks in carbon capture, utilization and storage; hydrogen; and critical minerals. Before she entered politics, Savage was a senior executive with the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association and Enbridge. According to a press release, she is “widely recognized for her ability to navigate and balance energy security and climate interests in an evolving landscape”.