Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nunavut Legislative Librarian Receives 2009 Award for Special Librarianship in Canada

Yvonne Earle, Legislative Librarian at the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut, is this year’s recipient of the Award for Special Librarianship in Canada.

The award is granted by the Canadian Association of Special Libraries and Information Services (CASLIS), a division of the Canadian Library Association.

Her contributions to the library field include efforts to incorporate Inuktitut syllabics into online cataloguing and developing a consistent Inuktitut vocabulary for bibliographic description.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:44 pm 0 comments

Winners of Day in the Life of Law Libraries Photo Contest

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) has announced the winners of its 2009 Day in the life contest:

"During the month of February, AALL members took a wide range of photographs of law librarians working, meeting, teaching, and doing all that law librarians do in a given day or week. Nearly 30 members from 23 different law libraries across the country submitted 82 photos to the contest."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:37 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

AALL Spectrum May 2009 Issue on Law Library Architecture

The most recent issue of the AALL Spectrum features a number of articles on law library design as part of its 9th Annual Architectural Series.

AALL Spectrum is the monthly magazine of the American Association of Law Libraries.

From the presentation article:

"This edition highlights the need to innovate to be green, to stretch budget dollars, and to make the best use of space: a law school, Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law, and a law firm, O’Melveny & Myers San Francisco, both aim for LEED certification; a new decentralized library at Bose McKinney & Evans emphasizes green; a complex logistical remodel at Regent University; and a remodel from physical to largely virtual at Sutherland in Washington, D.C."


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:07 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quebec Government Launches Community Justice Centres

The Quebec Ministry of Justice is launching 3 community justice centres as pilot projects in Québec City, Rimouski and Sherbrooke.

The centres are intended to provide legal information to citizens and help demystify the judicial process.

The project is based on similar initiatives elsewhere in Canada and abroad, such as the Law Information Centres in the province of Alberta.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:26 pm 0 comments

Law Commission of Ontario Project on Family Law Dispute Resolution

The Law Commission of Ontario has launched a project to research and improve family law dispute resolution.

The project is called "Best Practices at Family Justice System Entry Points: Needs of Users and Responses of Workers in the Justice System":

"This project is based on the premise that threshold issue are usually the most important ones to get 'right'. In this context, this means that if people are able to identify their needs at an early stage, not only legal needs, but also needs related to their (often overlapping) societal characteristics (for example, being a woman, a recent immigrant, Aboriginal or of low income), the system will be able to offer more effective ways of resolving their disputes that are responsive to their particular needs. The family law project will therefore study users’ needs and workers’ responses at various entry points into the family justice system in order to develop a report on 'best practices'. Entry points include but are not restricted to lawyers’ offices, legal aid offices, community legal clinics, community centres, schools, police stations, hospitals, health clinics and courts."

The project will be completed by November 2010.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:13 pm 0 comments

Monday, April 27, 2009

Supreme Court of Canada Library: New Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of April 1st to 15th, 2009 is available on the Court website.

The web page explains: "The Supreme Court of Canada Library does not lend materials from this list, which is provided for information only."

But, once the material goes into the general collection, after about a month, the works do become available for inter-library loan to authorized libraries.

It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the list.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:51 pm 0 comments

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Launch of 50th Anniversary Website for European Court of Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights was inaugurated on April 20, 1959.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the event, the Court has launched a new special event-oriented website.

Among other features, the site contains:
  • an interactive map of the 47 member States: basic information on each State includes the date it ratified the European Convention on Human Rights, the judge elected in respect of that State, major cases brought against it
  • original historical documents, such as texts concerning the first case examined by the Court in 1960 (Lawless v. Ireland)
  • an overview of 50 years of activity and developments can be gleaned from various reference documents including: preparatory work of the Convention, simplified version of the Convention, annual report on execution of judgments, case-law information, amendments to the Convention and Rules of Court, and reports on future reforms
The Court is an institution under the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (AKA European Convention of Human Rights) that was drawn up by the Council of Europe. The Court sits in Strasbourg, France.

The Council of Europe is one of the continent's oldest political organizations, founded in 1949. It groups together 47 countries, and it has granted observer status to five other countries (the Holy See, United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:08 pm 0 comments

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Today is World Book and Copyright Day

Just thought you should all know that April 23 marks World Book and Copyright Day.

It has some very romantic background.

Supposedly, back in the 1920s, booksellers in Barcelona (Catalonia) decided to honour Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quichotte, who died on this day in 1616.

It also happens to be Saint George's Day, a major Catalan festival (Sant Jordi). On this day, book stores in Catalonia offer a rose to each customer who buys a book.

In the mid-1990s, UNESCO selected this day as a world celebration of books, authors and reading.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:37 pm 1 comments

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

FLARE Index to Treaties

The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in the United Kingdom recently launched the FLARE Index to Treaties, a searchable database of basic information on over 1,500 of the most significant multilateral treaties from 1856 to the present.

Information comes from many sources such as Multilateral Treaties: index and current status (London: Butterworths, 1984, tenth supplement, 1994), International Legal Materials (Washington: American Society of International Law, 1962-) , Bulletin of International Legal Developments/Bulletin of Legal Developments (London: British Institute of International and Comparative Law, 1966-), United Nations Treaty Series Index, etc.

Information about each treaty includes:

  • the official, popular and alternative titles of the treaty;
  • the date on which the treaty was concluded;
  • the place where the treaty was concluded;
  • where the full text of the treaty can be found in printed publications;
  • links to where the text is available on the internet
  • the name of the state or international organisation acting as depository for the treaty; etc.

A more detailed description is available on the website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:33 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

British Columbia Launches Clicklaw Public Legal Info Portal

The Public Legal Education and Information Network in the province of British Columbia has launched Clicklaw to provide the general public with legal information and education resources.

There are 24 contributing organizations so far. The project is being coordinated by Courthouse Libraries BC.

The Canadian Bar Association website has a page with links to the public legal education organizations in other provinces.

[Source: Courthouse Libraries BC]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:52 pm 0 comments

Statistics Canada Reports Crime Severity Index Down

A new report by Statistics Canada states that the seriousness of crimes reported to the police fell significantly in the decade before 2007.

The Police-reported Crime Severity Index "tracks changes in the severity of police-reported crime. Each offence is assigned a weight and more serious crimes are assigned higher weights, or relative importance. Changes in more serious crimes, such as break-ins and robberies, drive changes in the index."

This is the first time the federal statistics agency has used the index, which is not the same as the more well-known crime rate (which measures pure volume for different kinds of crime).

According to the report:

"Crime severity is expressed as an index for which 2006 is the base year at 100. In 2007, the index for overall crime was 94.6, down from 119.1 in 1998. This means that crime severity fell by about 20% during the decade. The 10-year decline was driven by a 40% drop in break-ins."
However, the severity index for violent crime (homicide, robberies and sexual assault) stayed relatively stable during the decade.

The report also allows for comparisons between provinces and major metropolitan regions of Canada.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:36 pm 1 comments

Monday, April 20, 2009

Quebec Government Lawyers Conference Website Launched

The organizers of the Conférence des juristes de l'État, a conference of Quebec government sector lawyers which is held every 2 years, have launched a permanent website.

The archives containing material from earlier conferences (going back to 1992) are the most interesting part of the site.

The 2009 conference is taking place this week in Quebec City.

Material is in French.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:59 pm 0 comments

Sunday, April 19, 2009

SOQUIJ Updates Its Legal Newsletters Database

The Quebec Crown corporation for legal information SOQUIJ (Société québécoise d'information juridique) has updated its Bulletins juridiques database.

As of April, 17, 2009, it contains 5549 links to newsletters from Quebec law firms, legal research institutions and law-related websites.

It is possible to perform a title keyword search or browse by legal topic.

Earlier Library Boy posts on finding law firm newsletters include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:39 pm 0 comments

Growing Number of US Courts Offering Online Digital Audio

According to the federal courts administration agency in the United States, a pilot project to provide public access to digital audio recordings of court proceedings will expand to more courts.

Currently 5 courts are involved. The number will grow to 9 by the end of this year.
"The U.S. Court of Federal Claims and three bankruptcy courts — in the Middle District of Florida, Eastern District of New York, and Rhode Island — are being added to the project. Rhode Island already is offering the recordings online, and the other three courts are moving toward implementation."

"They join the five original pilot courts — U.S. District Courts in Nebraska and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts in the Eastern District of North Carolina, Northern District of Alabama, and Maine."

"The audio files are accessible through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. More than 950.000 subscribers use PACER to access docket and case information from federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts."
In Canada, webcasts of Supreme Court of Canada proceedings have been available online since February.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:29 pm 0 comments

International Comparison of Data Breach Notification Laws

The Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress) has just published an article by Alana Maurushat of the University of New South Wales entitled Data Breach Notification Law Across the World from California to Australia.

The article provides a detailed survey of data breach disclosure requirements in 25 countries:
"Data breach notification and disclosure laws are emerging around the globe. In essence, data breach notification legally requires corporations and organisations to notify individuals when a breach of security leads to the disclosure of personal information (...)"

"The scope of such notification and disclosure schemes varies greatly from country to country. Many jurisdictions such as the United States, the European Union and Australia have tabled Bills or passed Acts legislating mandatory data breach disclosure. Other jurisdictions such as Canada and Japan have instituted voluntary guidelines. In many jurisdictions, data breach notification is currently sector specific (Eg. banking and financial sector or the telecommunications sector). Many of the current proposals, guidelines, and laws take from the experience of the United States, most notably with California which in 2002 passed strict data breach notification laws. Jurisdictions borrowing from the American experience have gained insight into aspects from some of these initial laws. However, some elements from current proposals in Australia, Canada and the EU highlight and ignore problematic aspects of the U.S. legislation."
[Source: Docuticker]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:20 pm 0 comments

Friday, April 17, 2009

New Paper on Effects of Ideology and Consensus on Supreme Court of Canada Rulings

University of Toronto law professors Benjamin Alarie and Andrew James Green have posted a new paper on the Social Science Research Network: Charter Decisions in the McLachlin Era: Consensus and Ideology at the Supreme Court of Canada.

From the abstract:
"This paper examines how justices on the Supreme Court of Canada voted in Charter appeals between 2000 and 2009. Charter appeals, at least in popular belief (and possibly also in theory), have the greatest potential to reveal voting that is influenced by extra-legal policy preferences. Confining the analysis to the time during which Chief Justice McLachlin has led the Court aids in controlling for the effects of a particular Chief Justice in assessing the roles of ideology and consensus."

"Several of the Court's members have exhibited sharply different voting proclivities in s.15 (equality rights) appeals as compared with Charter claims made in the context of criminal law appeals (and, indeed, other Charter appeals). This finding suggests that at least some of the justices on the Court have been influenced by policy preferences on at least some occasions in discrete areas of Charter rights adjudication. On the other hand, it also suggests that judicial policy preferences are richer and significantly more nuanced than can adequately be captured by a simple 'right'-'left' or 'conservative'-'liberal' characterization of these policy preferences. The paper discusses a number of implications of the analysis and findings."
Earlier Library Boy posts about Green's and Alarie's analysis of Supreme Court of Canada decision-making include:
  • Do Supreme Court of Canada Justices Change their Policy Preferences After Their Appointment? (September 20, 2007): "The assumptions underlying the debate are that Prime Ministers can predict the voting of their appointees, that they appoint justices whose political preferences accord with their own and that these judges vote in a predictable pattern over time (...) We examine how the policy preferences of the justices on the Supreme Court of Canada between 1982 and 2004 shifted (if at all) during their time on the Court, focusing particular attention on the behaviour of the justices immediately following their appointment (...) Our results suggest that the policy preferences of justices shift over time and the analysis has implications both for the debate surrounding the Canadian appointments process and for models of judicial decision-making."
  • Follow-Up on Supreme Court of Canada Judges' Policy Preferences (October 15, 2007): "The net result of the empirical analysis is this: despite some notable exceptions, most particularly Justice L’Heureux-Dubé, the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada do not, by and large, vote in ideologically predictable ways either in the short-term or on a long-term basis. In addition, their policy preferences are in a constant state of change; at any given time, some justices will be changing little, others will be moving in a more 'liberal' direction, and others will be tending towards a more 'conservative' approach. We show that justices who served from 1982-2004 do not appear to have been particularly ideologically driven, especially in comparison with their colleagues on the U.S. Supreme Court"
  • New Paper on Collegial Decision-Making at the Supreme Court of Canada (February 20, 2008): "This paper discusses the relationship between two potential determinants of a justice's votes: her personal policy preferences and the extent and nature of cooperation between justices on the Court at a given time. To set the context Part II briefly outlines the main findings of some recent empirical research on the judicial voting behaviour on the Supreme Court of Canada and compares it to similar empirical studies of the US Supreme Court. Part III then sets out a framework for analyzing the difference in voting patterns based on the extent to which a judge votes in accordance with her policy preferences and the extent to which the justices of a multi-member court can be characterized as cooperative. Part IV uses this framework to assess the different patterns of voting on the Canadian and US Supreme Courts and discusses the important normative tradeoff between deliberation ('positive' cooperation) and logrolling ('negative' cooperation). Finally, Part V briefly discusses the connection of this normative tradeoff to the appointments process, and identifies some additional considerations to guide future theoretical and empirical research."


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:15 pm 0 comments

Thursday, April 16, 2009

2009-2010 Reports on Plans and Priorities for Canadian Judiciary

In late March, the 2009-10 Reports on Plans and Priorities (RPPs) were tabled in the House of Commons on behalf of 95 federal departments and agencies. They are now on the website of the Treasury Board Secretariat.

These RPPs set out departmental/agency priorities, provide performance measurement indicators, and explain expected results.

Here are the RPPs for a number of federal judiciary institutions:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:26 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Walrus Magazine Profile of Canada's Chief Justice

The most recent issue of The Walrus has a profile of Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada.

The article, The McLachlin Group - How Canada’s first female Chief Justice has taken the heat off the Supreme Court, is by Susan Harada.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:13 am 0 comments

Supreme Court of Canada Library: New Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of March 1 to 31, 2009 is available on the Court website.

The web page explains: "The Supreme Court of Canada Library does not lend materials from this list, which is provided for information only."

But, once the material goes into the general collection, after about a month, the works do become available for inter-library loan to authorized libraries.

It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the list.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:12 am 0 comments

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Free vs. Paid Legal Research Tools

The current issue of The Lawyers Weekly takes a look at Free vs. paid online legal research tools:

"Cost-conscious lawyers may ask themselves: Can we get by using only freely available research tools?"

"Chances are, the answer today is no. But free legal research tools continue to improve as new ones emerge and legal researchers everywhere are better off for them."
The article reminds readers that the free sources can rarely offer the added editorial value of the subscription-based commercial services (complicated noting up features, point-in-time searching, etc.).

However, the article does point out an interesting development in the growth of professionally organized free services like CanLII (Canadian Legal Information Institute) that are rapidly coming to occupy a middle ground:

" 'The availability of a high-quality free site improves the standard of practice,' added [Catherine] Best, herself appointed by the Law Society of British Columbia as that province’s director on CanLII’s board. 'Many lawyers who practise on the margins can not afford commercial services, and many other lawyers don’t subscribe to commercial services because they don’t do much research. Others limit their use of commercial services because of the cost.' "

" 'Having something like CanLII available really can improve the standard of practice for the profession as a whole,' Best continued. "One of the reasons the law societies support CanLII is due to their competency mandate, and CanLII helps to fulfill that mandate.' "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:41 pm 0 comments

Monday, April 13, 2009

Research Guide on Internally Displaced Persons has just published Internally Displaced Persons: Guide to Legal Information Resources on the Web:
"According to the United Nations, internally displaced persons (IDPs) are 'persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border' (Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, 1998, Introduction, para. 2)."

"Because the flight described in the definition is internal, national authorities are responsible for providing protection to people displaced in their own countries. However, over time the humanitarian community has come to recognize that IDPs are often in need of special protection, not least because the government responsible for protecting them is sometimes unwilling or unable to do so, or may itself be the cause of displacement (Brun 2005, 3)."

"This recognition has resulted in the development of a legal framework based on human rights and humanitarian law norms to address protection issues, as well as the evolution of a complex network of mechanisms to provide assistance to millions of internally displaced around the world. The aim of this guide is to highlight information resources that can help readers learn more about this issue and its legal aspects."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:40 pm 0 comments

United Nations Handbook on Prisoners with Special Needs

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has issued a new publication in its ongoing Criminal Justice Handbook series.

The Handbook on Prisoners with Special Needs covers the special needs of prisoners in eight groups:
"The present handbook forms part of a series of tools developed by The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to support countries in implementing the rule of law and the development of criminal justice reform. It is designed to be used by all actors involved in the criminal justice system, including policymakers, legislators, prison managers, prison staff, members of non-governmental organizations and other individuals interested or active in the field of criminal justice and prison reform. It can be used in a variety of contexts, both as a reference document and as a training tool."

"This handbook covers the special needs of eight groups of prisoners, which have a
particularly vulnerable status in prisons. They are: Prisoners with mental health care needs; Prisoners with disabilities; Ethnic and racial minorities and indigenous peoples; Foreign national prisoners; Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) prisoners; Older prisoners; Prisoners with terminal illness and Prisoners under sentence of death."
Each chapter provides an overview of the situation of a specific group in the criminal justice system worldwide, an overview of their special needs and challenges encountered in responding
to them, extracts from relevant international standards, commentary on legislative measures and the implementation of alternatives to prison, and prison management guidelines.

[Source: UN Pulse]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:02 pm 0 comments

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice 2009 Annual Conference

The 2009 annual conference of the Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, Taking Remedies Seriously, will be held in Ottawa from September 30 to October 2:

"The fundamental principle of our legal system that there is no right without a remedy focuses lawyers, judges and legal scholars on the practical side of the law and connects abstract legal rules to the real world of litigants. At the same time, remedial issues give rise to intriguing theoretical issues about the very nature of legal rights and about the legitimate role of courts and other legal institutions in modern society. They also raise the question of whether the recognition of rights is adversely affected by concerns about devising and enforcing remedies."

"This Conference will focus on the evolving world of remedies, their significance in shaping the rights they enforce, and the implications remedial issues have for the role of courts and tribunals."

The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, will be the Keynote Speaker on October 1.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:47 pm 0 comments

Westlaw Reclassifies Hundreds of Thousands of Digest Headnotes

This should be of interest to Canadians doing U.S. legal research.

Westlaw has introduced a number of changes to its Key Number topical classification system for case digests:
  • Two new digest topics have been created: "Privileged Communications and Confidentiality" and "Protection of Endangered Persons"
  • Complete revision of four topics: "Convicts and Prisons", "Disorderly Conduct", "Products Liability" (many points of law are classified once under the product type and again under the legal concept or procedure)
  • Minor improvements in "Criminal Law", "Indians", "Infants", "Negligence", and "Process"
  • Deletion of "Breach of the Peace", now part of the topic "Disorderly Conduct"

The changes mean the reclassification of more than 300,000 headnotes.

[Source: Law Librarian Blog]


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:30 pm 0 comments

New Book on Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society

A new five country study on the protection of privacy on the Internet was launched yesterday at a ceremony hosted by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Entitled Lessons from The Identity Trail: Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society, the study was conducted by scholars from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Italy. The book is available online by way of a Creative Commons licence. The online version is being released in three parts on April 8, April 28, and May 6.

It found that there is little protection for anonymity on the Net and that there is a trend toward policies requiring people to be identified even for routine everyday commercial transactions.

The book is part of the On the Identity Trail project, a multidisciplinary research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:11 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Australian Law Reform Commission Journal Issue on Native Title

The most recent issue of Reform, the journal of the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC), is devoted to Native Title.

As noted by Professor David Weisbrot, ALRC President, in his Comment, the Commission has played an instrumental role in advancing the ideas of native title in Australia (based on Indigenous customary land tenure).

However, he writes that most observers feel that the framework developed for resolving native title disputes has developed many weaknesses:

"Mabo [ (1992) 175 CLR 1 ] and the subsequent Wik case established the basic common law principles, but the detailed laws and procedures for resolving Native Title claims are provided in highly complex legislation, particularly the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (NTA), which incorporates a mix of tribunal processes and Federal Court adjudication. While it is theoretically possible for native title disputes to be settled quickly and cooperatively, the combination of procedural and evidential complexity, high stakes, multiple parties, uncertainty of outcome, and a winner-take-all approach means that most cases are heavily litigated, go on for years, cost a fortune in legal and other costs—and often result in crushing disappointment, since claimants bear the onus of proof in difficult circumstances. "

"In this edition, Tom Calma, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and Race Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, provides a superb overview of what he describes as the ‘failing framework’ of native title in Australia— and, unfortunately, few would seriously argue with that characterisation."
The issue presents 17 articles by the Chief Justice of Australia, the Indigenous Affairs Minister of Australia, native rights activists and Australian aboriginal law specialists.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:21 pm 0 comments

Oxford University Library of the Future Debate

Last week, Oxford University hosted a debate on the Library of the Future.

The website links to video from the event and blog posts.

A podcast of an interview with 2 of the debate participants is also available.

"What is the library of the future? This public question and answer debate discussed what information and library provision mean in these changing times; technology has had a huge effect on the behaviour of both information consumers and service providers. We asked what the library currently is and what do libraries need to do to support knowledge, innovation and society for the future? "
There was a very impressive group of speakers, including:

  • Dr Malcolm Read, Executive Secretary - Joint Information Systems Commitee (JISC), a higher education research and funding body in the UK
  • Dr Sarah Thomas, Bodleian's Librarian at Oxford
  • Santiago de la Mora, Google Book Search in Europe
  • Peter Murray-Rust, Unilever Centre for Molecular Informatics
  • Robert Darnton, Harvard University Librarian

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:00 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Law Commission (UK) Consultation Paper on Expert Evidence in Criminal Trials

The Law Commission (United Kingdom) has issued a consultation paper on The Admissibility of Expert Evidence in Criminal Proceedings in England and Wales.

Professor Jeremy Horder, the Commissioner leading the project, has stated:
"The parties in criminal trials are relying increasingly on the evidence of expert witnesses. Expert evidence, particularly scientific evidence, can have a very persuasive effect on juries. It is vital that such evidence should be used only if it provides a sound basis for determining a defendant’s guilt or innocence. There have been miscarriages of justice in recent years where prosecution expert evidence of doubtful reliability has been placed before Crown Court juries. There may also have been unwarranted acquittals attributable to such evidence. We want to ensure that the criminal courts have the means to authenticate expert evidence and be satisfied that the information before them is sound. We have formulated some provisional proposals and questions, and would like to know what others, particularly scientists and other experts, think of them."
The consultation closes in July 2009.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:49 pm 0 comments

Law Day 2009 Coming Next Week

Thursday, April 16 marks Law Day 2009 organized by the Canadian Bar Association.

The page links to activities sponsored by the provincial and territorial branches of the Association:

"Law Day – Law Week in many jurisdictions - is marked by projects and activities taking place across the country. Activities include lectures on the law, mock trials, courthouse tours, fun runs, open citizenship courts, and poster, photography and website design contests aimed at elementary and high school students."

The event celebrates the signing of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms in April 1982.


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:36 pm 0 comments

Monday, April 06, 2009

Australian Law Reform Commission to Examine Royal Commissions

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has released what it calls an Issues Paper entitled Review of the Royal Commissions Act asking for input from the population as part of its review of the Royal Commissions Act 1902.

The goal is to examine whether less formal, less time-consuming, and more cost efficient forms of inquiry into controversial issues are feasible. Royal Commissions are independent public inquiries that are conducted on an ad hoc basis by an entity commissioned by, but external to, the government. Their primary role is to inquire into, and report on, the subject matter it has been asked to consider by the government:
"This is the first comprehensive review of the Royal Commissions Act in its 107 year history. While the operation and provisions of the Act will be a major focus, the ALRC also has been asked to inquire into and report on a number of other issues. In particular, the Terms of Reference, reproduced at the beginning of this paper, require the ALRC to consider:"

"(a) whether there is any need to develop an alternative form or forms of Commonwealth executive inquiry, with statutory foundations, to provide more flexibility, less formality and greater cost-effectiveness than a Royal Commission (particularly whether there would be any advantage in codifying special arrangements and powers that should apply to such alternative forms of inquiry);"

"(b) whether there is any need to develop special arrangements and powers for inquiries involving matters of national security;"

"(c) the appropriateness of restrictions on the disclosure of information to, and use of information by, Royal Commissions and other inquiries, including restrictions contained in other legislation (but not including those arising from the operation of client legal privilege); and"

"(d) suggestions for changes to the Act proposed or raised by Royal Commissions."
The Commission will provide its report to the Australian Attorney-General by 30 October 2009.

Further information is available on the ALRC website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:49 pm 0 comments

Sunday, April 05, 2009

British Columbia Statutes Now on CanLII

The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) now offers free access to British Columbia statutes. CanLII is a portal to Canadian law funded by the members of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.

Material goes back to January 2009. The collection includes the following features:
  • full-text and field search
  • statute noteup
  • section noteup
  • links between statutes and regulations
  • links between cases and statutes
  • RSS feeds for legislative changes
CanLII's legislation databases cover all Canadian jurisdictions.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:40 am 0 comments

Friday, April 03, 2009

CASLIS Special Issues Bulletin 19(1)

Special Issues, the bulletin of the Canadian Association of Special Libraries and Information Services (CASLIS), has just published its latest issue (with a very cool photo of bagels on the cover).

CASLIS is one of the divisions of the Canadian Library Association.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:00 pm 0 comments

Manitoba Law Reform Commission Report on Private International Law

A new publication from the Manitoba Law Reform Commission has come to my attention: Private International Law (January 2009):
"Until 1994 in tort actions, which are actions having to do with civil wrongs, such as negligence, trespass, and defamation, Canadian courts applied the law of the forum to the determination of substantive (as apposed to procedural) issues; that is to say, a Manitoba court applied the law of Manitoba."

"In 1994 the Supreme Court of Canada decided that courts are to apply the law of the country of the wrong, without exception. The decision has been criticized for not including a flexible exception of the general rule, where applying the law of the country of the wrong results in an injustice. The Commission recommends enactment of legislation codifying the Tolofson general rule, with some greater specificity, and empowering Manitoba courts in exceptional circumstances to apply some other law than the law of the country of the wrong in order to do justice."


"The Report recommends that Manitoba follow British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Yukon, and likely Alberta and Ontario, to enact the model Act of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada titled the Uniform Court Jurisdiction and Transfer Proceedings Act."
That Act is available on the site of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada.

The full report of the Manitoba Law Reform Commission in PDF format is available on the Commission website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:30 pm 0 comments

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Supreme Court of Canada Library: New Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of February 16th to 28th, 2009 is available on the Court website.

The web page explains: "The Supreme Court of Canada Library does not lend materials from this list, which is provided for information only."

But, once the material goes into the general collection, after about a month, the works do become available for inter-library loan to authorized libraries.

It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the list.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:47 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Quebec Legal Info Service CAIJ Launches Mobile Research

CAIJ, the Centre d'accès à l'information juridique (the network of law libraries associated with the Québec Bar Association), today launched a mobile version of its suite of free online legal research products.

CAIJ | mobile will provide access to:
  • CAIJ’s online catalogue
  • its databases of legislation, case law and legal literature
  • JuriBistro TOPO, the CAIJ knowledgebase of hundreds of legal questions and answers from 57 fields of law
  • access to Quebec Bar Association publications such as Développements récents (annual reviews of areas of law), the Collection de droit (Bar School materials), and proceedings of the annual Bar Association congresses
Earlier Library Boy posts related to CAIJ services and products include:
  • CALL Conference 2007 - Cool Things Session (May 9, 2007): "Sonia Loubier of CAIJ (Centre d'accès à l'information juridique or Legal Information Access Centre, a library network associated with the Quebec Bar Association) gave a presentation on their JuriBistro Topo product. Launched in the fall of 2006, JuriBistro Topo is a massive knowledgebase containing thousands of legal research questions and answers based on the 20,000 plus questions local CAIJ outlets receive annually from laywers across Quebec. The CAIJ network includes 38 courthouse libraries, 8 regional libraries, 3 resource libraries and 27 local service points. A typical question and answer file will include the applicable legislation, case law and top sources of commentary on the issue."
  • RSS Feeds for Reference Questions Handled by Quebec Law Libraries (December 22, 2008): "... it is possible to subscribe to RSS feeds from CAIJ ... There are RSS feeds for new library acquisitions, for legislative updates, and for news by topic. The most interesting RSS feed for me is the one for new reference questions added to the JuriBistro Topo collection."
  • Free Access to Quebec Bar Association Materials On CAIJ (January 31, 2009): "Continuing education materials from the Quebec Bar Association have been available for free since the fall of 2008 on the website of CAIJ. This includes: Bar School texts; annual conference papers; the Développements récents collection (recent developments in specific areas of law)"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:05 pm 0 comments

Free & Low Cost U.S. Legal Research Guide

For people without access to commercial database sources for U.S. legal materials, the Georgetown Law Library has published a guide to Free & Low Cost Legal Research on the Web:

"The major legal research databases can be prohibitively expensive for some researchers. There are, however, a number of online alternatives that are either free or less expensive than Lexis/Nexis and Westlaw. "

"The first part of this guide provides an overview and links to different types of free materials and the second part summarizes the features and costs of less expensive databases. "
Of course, for maximum historical depth, noting up of cases and expert commentary, the big database providers are still tops. But it is interesting to note how quickly free sources have been expanding in recent years.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:33 pm 0 comments

Library of Parliament Summary of Proposed Anti-Terror Provisions

On March 12 of this year, the Canadian government introduced a bill to reinstate Criminal Code anti-terrorism provisions relating to recognizance with conditions (up to and including preventive detention) and investigative hearings (compelling testimony).

Those provisions had expired in 2007 under a sunset clause in anti-terrorism legislation.

The Library of Parliament has prepared a legislative summary of the issues involved:

"Bill C-19 essentially reintroduces provisions relating to investigative hearings and recognizance with conditions that first came into force in December 2001 with Bill C-36, the Anti-terrorism Act. A sunset clause contained in that Act stated that the provisions in question would cease to apply at the end of the 15th sitting day of Parliament after 31 December 2006, unless they were extended by a resolution passed by both houses of Parliament. As of February 2007, no investigative hearings had been held and there was no reported use of the provisions on recognizance with conditions."

"Before the provisions were set to expire, they were reviewed by the Supreme Court of Canada and by Parliament. The Supreme Court reviewed the investigative hearings portion of the Anti-terrorism Act in the context of the Air India trial. The Crown had brought an ex parte application seeking an order that a Crown witness attend an investigative hearing pursuant to section 83.28 of the Code ... That order was appealed to the Supreme Court. The Court released companion decisions upholding the constitutionality of these provisions, stating that investigative hearings do not violate an individual’s section 7 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms right against self-incrimination, as evidence derived from such hearings cannot be used against the person except in perjury prosecutions."

"In Parliament, two special committees were charged with review of the Anti‑terrorism Act ... The House of Commons Subcommittee on the Review of the Anti-terrorism Act heard a wide variety of testimony on the provisions and released an interim report in October 2006 dealing specifically with investigative hearings and recognizance with conditions. The Subcommittee stated that it felt these provisions were in accord with Canadian legal tradition and that sufficient safeguards were built into the process, but that there still remained some need for clarification. It suggested a number of technical amendments to the provisions, as well as some broader substantive ones."

"In the Senate, a Special Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act was convened in December 2004 to undertake a comprehensive review of the provisions and operation of the Anti-terrorism Act. Again, this Committee heard from a broad spectrum of witnesses, some of whom felt that the Anti-terrorism Act represented a substantial departure from Canadian legal traditions and feared that use of these provisions might eventually extend beyond terrorism offences to other more generic Criminal Code offences, and others who felt that these provisions were not new, did not violate rights, and allowed threats to be addressed proactively. The Committee released its final report on 22 February 2007, making two recommendations for amendment with respect to the provisions for investigative hearings and recognizance with conditions."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:15 pm 0 comments