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The blog of the Great Library at the Law Society of Ontario

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One to watch – Ontario Bill 161, Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, 2019

The Smarter and Stronger Justice Act, 2019 (Bill 161) was introduced late last year by Attorney General Doug Downey. The stated aim of this ambitious 80-page package of reforms is to simplify Ontario’s complex and outdated justice system. If passed, the bill will make changes, large and small, to over 20 acts impacting the courts, legal aid, legal practice and regulation.

Here are a few key Bill 161 amendments:

Class Proceedings Act (Schedule 4)

  • introduces a more rigorous certification test, new provisions for approval of third-party funding, coordination of multi-jurisdictional actions, administrative dismissal of  dormant proceedings, and procedural changes relating to appeals, carriage motions and settlement and counsel fee approvals

Commissioners for the Taking of Affidavits Act (Schedule 5)

  • allows for virtual (remote) commissioning of documents

Estates Act (Schedule 9)

  • introduces a simplified probate process for small estates

Law Society Act (Schedule 14)

  • grants the Law Society of Ontario the authority to regulate firms, in addition to regulating lawyers and paralegals individually

Notaries Act (Schedule 19)

  • allows paralegals to be appointed as notaries

A complete summary of amendments can be found in the Explantory Note to Bill 161.

Legal organizations, academics and practitioners have already responded to various aspects of the bill. See for example:

Since Bill 161 received first reading on December 9, 2019, just days before the Legislature adjourned for its winter break, it has thus far not been debated in the House or Committee. But MPPs return to work today, so stay tuned. 

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Legal Research Survival Guide, Part 4 – Following the Breadcrumbs: Source Notes and How to Use Them

With their jumble of letters, numbers and symbols, legal citations can give researchers quite the headache. While you may have already figured out how to navigate case citations, legislative citations are quite different and can seem even more confusing. One place you may come across legislative citations is in the source notes (or historical notes) found at the end of sections of consolidated law online or in printed statute and regulation revisions. This blog post will help you to decipher and interpret source notes found in statute consolidations.

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Organize and monitor your online legal research

Legal research can get messy fast. The process of finding and understanding the relevant law is rarely linear. It can also take time, cover many sources, both print and electronic, and produce a large volume of results, from commentary to cases. Having a research plan, documenting your process and keeping your results organized are key. Lexbox is a free Google Chrome extension which presents one option for organizing and monitoring your online legal research. Continue reading

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Finding Old Regulations: Part II – Federal

To paraphrase what we said in an earlier post, Finding Old Regulations: Part I – Ontario, finding regulations is much easier now than it used to be. Visiting the Justice Laws website, you can locate official versions of consolidated federal regulations, both current and previous versions (back to March 22, 2006).  Continue reading

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A New Year’s Resolution for Legislative Researchers – Never Assume

When conducting legislative research, it is best not to assume anything. One often-made assumption is that an Act passed by a legislative body during a specific year comes into force during that same year. In reality, many statutes come into force on a date other than the date on which they receive Royal Assent. Continue reading