June 24, 2020

Leave to intervene granted in Canada's first "site-blocking" appeal

Today, the Federal Court of Appeal granted leave to intervene to six interveners in the appeal of Bell Media Inc. v. GoldTV.Biz, 2019 FC 1432, in which the Federal Court granted Canada's first website-blocking order. MacKenzie Barristers acted for FIAPF, one of the interveners to whom leave was granted (FIAPF stands for Fédération Internationale des Associations de Producteurs de Films, or the International Federation of Film Producers Associations). 

The leave motion was heard in writing, further to case management directions issued while the courts were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an interesting decision, Justice Stratas imposed terms on all interventions by requiring interveners with similar interests to collaborate on joint written submissions to the Court.

FIAPF has a valuable perspective and worldwide experience with site-blocking orders, and MacKenzie Barristers looks forward to assisting the Federal Court of Appeal with FIAPF's contributions in this important case.

June 10, 2020

Brooke MacKenzie featured on an episode of "Exhibit Eh-OK" podcast

This week, Brooke was interviewed on the “Exhibit Eh-OK” podcast hosted by Oatley Vigmond personal injury lawyers Harrison Cooper and Lara Fitzgerald-Husek. The podcast is marketed as "positive, entertaining conversations with interesting guests", and includes discussions about efforts to stay fit while in quarantine, lawyers who used to be rock stars, and Brooke's brief reign as a Jeopardy! champion.


May 26, 2020

Law Society ordered to pay lawyer's costs for unfounded discipline allegations

In a decision released today, the Law Society Tribunal took the rare step of awarding costs against the Law Society of Ontario on the basis that allegations of professional misconduct against a lawyer were unwarranted and brought without reasonable justification.


MacKenzie Barristers acted for the licensee on the motion for costs, as well as in the discipline hearing, in which the Law Society had alleged the lawyer breached the Rules of Professional Conduct relating to advertising. The Tribunal had concluded that "except for one minor mistake in a 2016 mailer, none of the allegations was established". The application was converted to an invitation to attend and dismissed.

On the motion for costs, the Tribunal acknowledged that "The standard for awarding costs against the Law Society is extremely high", but held that the lawyer met that high standard. The panel exercised its discretion to award to the licensee his costs for defending himself against the unwarranted allegations.

Update: The Law Times published a story on this important decision here.

May 12, 2020

Brooke MacKenzie's analysis of motions to disqualify counsel published in Queen's Law Journal

The latest volume of the Queen's Law Journal includes a peer-reviewed article by Brooke MacKenzie, sharing her research on motions for the disqualification of counsel in Canada. With the assistance of the OBA Foundation's Chief Justice of Ontario Fellowship in Legal Ethics and Professionalism, Brooke conducted a comprehensive empirical study of 1,283 disqualification motions decided in Canada since the Supreme Court of Canada's seminal 1990 decision in MacDonald Estate v Martin.


Brooke's study explores the factors that influence the courts' decision-making in disqualification motions and provides some much-needed clarity in this area. Her article concludes by offering practical guidance for law firms and lawyers to guard against possible disqualification motions.

You can read a full-text copy of the article, "Explaining Disqualification: An Empirical Review of Motions for the Removal of Counsel", (2020) 45:2 Queen's LJ 199, at the link below.

March 16, 2020

MacKenzie Barristers is working remotely due to COVID-19 measures

Until further notice, the MacKenzie Barristers team will be serving our clients remotely; our physical office at 120 Adelaide is currently closed as a "social distancing" measure in light of the coronavirus.

You can still reach us by email or by phone (please leave a voicemail and we will return your call promptly). 

We are proud to have maintained a secure cloud-based system and largely paperless workflow since founding our firm in 2016. Our entire team is set up to work from home and to collaborate as if we were in the office, and we are confident we can continue serving our clients' needs in these extraordinary circumstances.

Best wishes to our clients and colleagues during this unpredictable time. 

March 04, 2020

Gavin MacKenzie quoted in Law Times' article "When can a lawyer withdraw from a case?"

Today's Law Times featured an article about Justice Myers' decision in Cengic v Castro, 2020 ONSC 986, in which he ordered that a lawyer must stay on the record for his client's impending six-week personal injury trial despite the lawyer's allegation that there was "a breakdown in their relationship".

The law firm, which was acting on contingency, had recommended a settlement that was insufficient from the client's view, then sought to be removed from the record because the client wished to proceed to trial, rejecting his lawyer's advice. Justice Myers held that the lawyer's removal would delay the resolution of the case on its merits and prejudice the client, and noted that the client "does not understand why his lawyer wants to desert him as he did nothing wrong. He just wants to finally have his case resolved by acceptable settlement or trial".


The Law Times interviewed Gavin MacKenzie about the case:

Gavin MacKenzie, the author of Lawyers and Ethics: Professional Responsibility and Discipline, says Myers offered a good decision. Plaintiffs' lawyers should not take on cases on a contingency basis expecting they will be able to withdraw if it’s not settled before trial, says MacKenzie, who was not involved in the case.

“I think the critical fact here was that the trial was imminent, and that it had been adjourned previously,” says MacKenzie. “You can only contemplate withdrawal if the trial is sufficiently far in the future that the client won't be prejudiced if the client’s required to change counsel. . . . Clients can terminate a lawyer’s retainer for no cause at all. But lawyers don't have that luxury.”

February 13, 2020

Brooke MacKenzie is a Jeopardy! champion

Tonight's episode of the game show Jeopardy! featured a familiar contestant. Brooke not only had the privilege of meeting Alex Trebek and competing on the show, but she became a Jeopardy champion after winning a competitive game.


In addition to correctly answering (in the form of a question) clues in categories such as The Civil War, The Horn of Africa, 3/4 of an EGOT, and Se"v"en-Letter Words, Brooke was able to break into the lead with a correct answer in Final Jeopardy about International Literature--and with some good luck hitting a big Daily Double in a category called "Trial Mix", which featured clues about important trials in American history.

You can read more about Brooke's time as a Jeopardy! champion in her interview with U of T News, linked below.

September 05, 2019

Lawyer's Daily interviews Gavin MacKenzie about Supreme Court justices returning to practice

In the wake of media attention on former Supreme Court of Canada justices' roles in the recent SNC-Lavalin affair, the Lawyer's Daily interviewed Gavin MacKenzie, among other experts on legal ethics and professionalism issues, about the thorny issues arising from judges' return to legal practice.

Gavin's perspective on the issues was quoted extensively in the article. He noted that none of the judges involved in the SNC-Lavalin affair transgressed any professional conduct rules, but spoke to the challenges of devising an approach to address similar circumstances, including as follows:

“There is a legitimate concern that clients — including governments — may suggest a legal opinion of a former judge is entitled to greater weight because of the author’s status,” said Gavin MacKenzie of Toronto’s MacKenzie Barristers, an expert on professional ethics and lawyer regulation. “The difficulty is in defining what should be prohibited to address this concern.”


MacKenzie noted that if former judges are prohibited from practising law, as they are in England and Wales, “you prevent the potential mischief of clients inappropriately exploiting the prestige of their lawyer’s former office, but you also prevent members of the public and practising lawyers from benefiting from the valuable experience and judgment of former judges.”

In MacKenzie’s view, all ex-judges, including Supreme Court judges, “may be well advised to avoid acting on matters that may subject them to criticism, but I think the concern about harming the reputation of their former court is overstated. Reasonable members of the public understand that sitting judges must be non-partisan, whereas practising lawyers have a duty to advance the interests of their clients.”

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