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Business Law Notes © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 1 PART 1: LEGAL FUNDAMENTALS SECTION 1-1: INTRODUCTION TO LAW Law is essential to any society in that it provides the rules by which people and businesses interact. Law affects almost every function and area of business. The authors of one business law text go so far as to say that “the difference between winning and losing in the business 1 world often depends upon the ability to make good choices from a legal perspective.” This is because almost every business decision has legal repercussions, including deciding whether to incorporate a business, obtaining financing, protecting proprietary knowledge used to develop products/services, entering into contracts to purchase raw materials, ensuring that products meet safety standards, disposing of plant wastes, promoting and pricing products/services, entering into contracts to sell products/services, and providing product warranties and after- sales service. At all stages of business, running afoul of the law can hurt a business, while playing within the boundaries of the law can help the business to succeed. For this reason, accountants, who play a key role in almost every aspect of operations, must have a solid working knowledge of the law. Definition and Purpose of Law The word “law” is generally associated with the word “rules.” McInnes, Kerr, and Van Duzer 2 provide a simple definition of law as “a rule that can be enforced by the courts.” Similarly, Yates defines law as “the body of rules that can be enforced by the courts or by other government 3 agencies.” DuPlessis and O’Byrne define law as “a set of rules and principles intended to guide conduct in society, primarily by protecting persons and their property; facilitating personal and 4 commercial interactions; and providing mechanisms for dispute recognition.” Smyth, Soberman, Easson, and McGill describe what law does, which is to “set standards of behaviour that are enforced by government, and also by individuals and groups with the help of 5 government.” 1 Mitchell McInnes, Ian R. Kerr, and J. Anthony VanDuzer, Managing the Law: The Legal Aspects of Doing Business, Third Edition, (Toronto: Pearson Canada, 2011), p.2. 2 McInnes et al., p. 7. 3 Richard A. Yates, Legal Fundamentals for Canadian Business, Second Edition, (Toronto: Pearson Canada, 2010), p. 1. 4 Dorothy DuPlessis, Steven Enman, Shannon O’Byrne, and Sally Gunz, Canadian Business and the Law, Third Edition, (Toronto: Nelson, a Division of Thomson Canada Limited, 2008), p. 4. 5 J.E. Smyth, D.A. Soberman, A.J. Easson, and S.A. McGill, The Law and Business Administration in Canada, Twelfth Edition, (Toronto: Pearson Canada, 2010), p. 3. © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 2 With these definitions in mind, business law could be defined as rules that govern business relationships. DuPlessis and O’Byrne suggest that business law performs many functions, including: • Defining general rules of commerce; • Protecting business ideas and business assets; • Providing mechanisms that allow business people to determine how they will participate in business ventures and how much risk they will bear; • Ensuring that losses are borne by those responsible for causing them; and 6 • Facilitating planning by ensuring that commitments are honoured. Business Law versus Business Ethics While staying within the confines of an increasing array of business laws is necessary for success in business, it is not sufficient. Businesses must also recognize additional limitations and expectations placed upon them by business ethics, those principles and values that define what is right and wrong. While ethical principles normally start with what is legal, they often impose a higher standard that recognizes a multitude of stakeholders beyond just suppliers, customers, and employees. While the focus of this document is on what the law requires of business, ethical standards will also be discussed. SECTION 1-2: SOURCES OF CANADIAN LAW AND THE LEGAL SYSTEM We begin this section with an overview of the Canadian legal environment to set the stage for subsequent sections, where specific types of law pertaining to businesses, such as tort law and contract law, will be examined. Categories of Law The law can be categorized in several ways. First, there is the distinction between substantive law and procedural law. Substantive law consists of the rights and duties that each person has in society, e.g., the right to own property or to make contracts and the duty to avoid injuring others and to obey various laws. Procedural law deals with the protection and enforcement of the rights and duties of substantive law; it provides the machinery by which these rights and duties are realized and enforced. To put it briefly, substantive law relates to what the law is, whereas procedural law relates to how it is enforced. Substantive law is divided into two fields: 6 DuPlessis and O’Byrne, p. 4. © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 3 1. Public law is concerned with the conduct of government and with the relationship between government and private individuals. Public law is divided into categories such as constitutional, criminal, and administrative law. 2. Private law consists of the rules governing relations between private individuals or groups of persons. Private law—which can be divided into categories such as torts, contracts, business entities, business relationships, and property rights—forms the substance of business law and is the main focus of this document. While the predominant concern in a business law course is substantive law, we will first consider the basics of procedural law, the form or organization of the legal system and its methods of conducting trials. Systems of Law: Civil Law and Common Law Around the world, two basic legal systems exist, civil law and common law. In brief, civil law emphasizes legislation, while common law emphasizes decisions handed down by the courts. Civil law is the system of law derived from Roman law. Its focus is on the development of a comprehensive legislated code. Civil law developed in continental Europe and was greatly influenced by the Code of Napoleon in 1804. Most of the private law in Quebec is civil law, but the rest of Canada falls under common law (to be described next). Civil law applies to only a few southern states in the United States (e.g., Louisiana), as well as to Mexico, continental Europe, most of Scotland, much of Africa, and all of South and Central America. Common law is the system of law in most of the English-speaking world and many non- English-speaking countries that were once part of the British Empire, such as India, Pakistan, and the Caribbean. Within Canada, all provinces and territories except Quebec have adopted common law. Common law is based on precedent, the recorded reasons given by judges for their decisions and adopted by judges in later cases. Common law is designed to facilitate two important aspects of justice: 1. Consistency, so that there is equal treatment in like situations; 2. Predictability, so that people can find out ahead of time where they stand and act with 7 reasonable certainty in making decisions about whether to sue or to defend themselves. The system of determining law by following already-decided cases, or precedent, is known as stare decisis, a Latin phrase meaning "to stand by a previous decision." On the one hand, we want the law to be stable and certain enough that it can be consulted confidently to predict the 7 Smyth et al., pp. 22-23. © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 4 legal consequences of our conduct. On the other hand, we want the law to be flexible enough to relate to changing conditions and social attitudes—we do not want to be judged by out-of-date standards. Stare decisis implies a preference for the objective of certainty ("let the decision stand"), but the courts have reserved for themselves a considerable amount of flexibility while still formally accepting the authority of their earlier decisions. Thus, there is an attempt to strike 8 a balance between accommodating change and achieving consistency. Stare decisis means that a lower court is bound by a decision of a superior court in the same jurisdiction when the superior court has decided the same issue. A decision in one province will have persuasive value in other provinces but will not be binding. Sometimes, a court of appeal in another province will come to a contrary decision, leaving the law in an uncertain state that can be resolved only by a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, which is binding on all other courts in Canada. However, lower courts are constrained only to the extent that the facts of a case before them substantially coincide with, i.e., are not "distinguishably different" from, the facts of the earlier Supreme Court decision. Therefore, lower courts still have considerable scope to distinguish the earlier case on the basis of its facts. When a losing party believes a lower court has incorrectly distinguished the facts, it may appeal to a higher court on these grounds. While the decision of a lower court is not a binding authority on other courts, the facts of the case may still be of wide general interest and the reasons for judgment so easily understood that the decision may have considerable influence and even be "followed" in other later cases unless and until the Supreme Court of Canada rules on the matter and comes to a contrary decision. The decisions of respected English and American judges as well as the decisions of judges from other common law countries may similarly influence the decisions of Canadian courts. Sources of Law: The Constitution, Legislation, and the Courts There are three sources of law: the Constitution, legislation, and the courts. The Constitution is the foundation law from which all other laws draw their power. In turn, legislation is passed by Parliament and by provincial legislatures in compliance with the Constitution. Such statutes may codify case law that developed in the courts, or it may change case law. Lastly, the courts hand 9 down judgments that also develop and shape legal principles. Each of these sources of law will be discussed in more detail in the sections to follow. 8 Smyth et al., p. 23. 9 Smyth et al., p. 10. © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 5 The Constitution The Constitution provides the basic skeleton or framework for Canada’s legal system. It creates the basic rules for Canadian society and its legal and political system. The Constitution is also the highest source of law. Section 52(1) of the Constitution states: “The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law of Canada, and any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the 10 Constitution is, to the extent of the inconsistency, of no force or effect.” The Constitution is also very difficult to change—the normal amending formula requires the consent of Parliament as well as the consent of the legislatures of at least two-thirds of the provinces, which represent 11 at least 50% of Canada’s population. The Constitution implements the federal system of Canada by setting out the division of powers between the federal and provincial/territorial jurisdictions, that is, by setting out the areas for which each level can create laws. For instance, the federal government is responsible for criminal law, taxation, unemployment insurance, banking and money, bankruptcy and insolvency, trade and commerce, shipping, and copyright, while the provincial governments have jurisdiction over property and civil rights (e.g., contracts and torts), corporations with provincial objects, and the creation of municipalities. The federal government also has residual power—power over anything that is not otherwise mentioned, which gives it jurisdiction over areas that did not exist when the Constitution was written in 1867, including telecommunications and air travel. As well, if federal and provincial statutes are ever in conflict, the doctrine of 12 federal paramountcy determines that the “federal law wins.” The Charter of Rights and Freedoms In 1982, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms became part of the Constitution. The Charter places limits on many aspects of government actions and protects human (versus property) rights. Figure 1-1highlights some of the rights and freedoms protected by the Charter. It is important to note that the Charter does not describe property rights (the right to own and enjoy assets) or economic rights (the right to carry on business activities). 10 Section 52(1) of the Constitution. 11 McInnes et al., p. 12. 12 McInnes et al., pp. 13-14. © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 6 Figure 1-1: Fundamental Charter Rights and Freedoms 13 The Charter is also subject to a number of other important restrictions: 1. The Charter’s rights and freedoms are fully applicable only when a person complains about government behaviour. Thus, the Charter does not directly apply to disputes involving private parties; however, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that private law should be developed in a way that is consistent with Charter values. 2. The Charter also generally does not apply in favour of or against private corporations. 3. Section 1 of the Charter states that its rights and freedoms are subject to “such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” It is for this reason that limitations may be placed on selling violent pornography or advertising to children. 4. Section 33 of the Charter may allow Parliament or a legislature to create and enforce a law “notwithstanding” the fact that it violates the Charter. However, this section has only been used once in the common law provinces and territories. When the Charter is violated, the court may award whatever remedy it considers “appropriate and just in the circumstances.” For instance, the court may simply issue a declaration that the Charter has been violated and leave it to the legislature to solve the problem. The court may impose an injunction that requires the government to resolve the problem in a specific way. Going even further, the court may strike down a statute that violates the Charter, leaving the legislature to enact a new law that adheres to the Charter. The court may also save a statute by re-writing part of it—by severing out the offending law, reading down a statute that is applied 13 McInnes et al., pp. 16-17. © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 7 too broadly, or reading in a statute that is written too narrowly. The court may also award 14 damages to people who suffer a Charter violation. Statutes: Law made by Parliament, Provincial Legislatures, and Municipal Governments Legislation may be passed by either Parliament or provincial legislatures. The most important kinds of legislation are statutes or acts. For example, every jurisdiction in Canada has an act that allows corporations to be created. In most cases, a bill is introduced into the House of Commons by a Member of Parliament. If the bill receives majority support at the First Reading, it goes to the Second Reading, where it is debated. If it receives majority support, it is sent to a legislative committee for detailed study. At the Third Reading, if it receives majority support, the bill passes and is sent to the Senate, where the process is repeated. The final step, a mere formality, is Royal Assent, where the bill is approved by the Attorney General, as the representative of the Queen. There are two main classes of legislation—passive and active. Passive legislation either prohibits an activity that was formerly permitted or permits an activity that was formerly prohibited. Passive legislation provides a framework within which people legally go about their business and puts the onus on either an injured party or a law-enforcement official to complain about any activity that violates the legislation. In contrast, active legislation gives government the right to carry on a program such as levying taxes, providing revenues, and supervising economic activities. Every government department, agency, and tribunal is established by the legislature in a statute. In exercising its regulatory powers, an administrative agency creates 15 new law (subordinate legislation), such as the criteria for obtaining business licences. One of the most important types of subordinate legislation involves municipal by-laws. The Constitution is concerned with only two levels of government (federal and provincial) but it gives provinces the power to create municipalities and, in turn, it gives municipalities the power to pass rules and laws that govern the city or town. Common Law: Law Made by Judges In the context of a discussion of legal systems, the term common law refers to a legal system that can be traced to England, and the term civil law refers to a system that can be traced to France. The term common law has a second meaning—it refers to the source of a law. When used in this connection, common law refers to laws that are created by judges rather than by 14 McInnes et al, pp. 18-19. 15 Smyth et al., p. 25. © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 8 legislators or by the drafters of the Constitution. In this sense, common law is also known as 16 case law. Common law is still the main source of private law. Of course, the earliest judicial decisions could not depend on precedent. Instead, they were influenced by local customs, canon law (created by the Church and related to matters of the Church), Roman law, feudal law (derived from the feudal system of land ownership), and merchant law (rules and practices developed 17 by merchants in medieval trade guilds and administered by their own courts). The early courts of common law could offer only monetary damages to the injured parties. Thus, another set of courts came into existence—the courts of chancery or courts of equity where petitions were heard by the king and his chancellor and vice-chancellors. The rules of law that these courts administered became known as equity. Equity courts could offer equitable remedies. If they saw fit, they could order specific performance—the carrying out of a binding obligation. Defendants who refused were jailed for contempt of court until they agreed to carry out the court's order. As equity law developed, its principles—such as trust, loyalty, and consideration of the relative position of the parties—became accepted as common law principles. In 1865, the British Parliament passed legislation to merge the two systems of court into the common law system we have today; the Canadian provinces passed similar legislation 18 shortly thereafter. Relationship Between Statutes and Common Law A statute overrides all the common law dealing with the same point. Legislatures may change common law or simply codify the law, i.e., summarize in a statute the common law rules governing a particular area of activity. The courts are often called upon to interpret a statute to decide whether it applies to the facts of a case and, if so, to decide on the consequences of breaking the law. These decisions then form part of judge-made law. Courts regularly use precedent even though the facts in the original case may be quite different from the case at issue. However, they adhere to strict interpretation of statutes: the courts apply the provisions of a statute only where the facts of the case are specifically covered by that statute. Nevertheless, Canadian courts are encouraged by the federal Interpretation Act to take 19 a “fair, liberal, and large” interpretation of statutes. Such a liberal approach to the 16 When used in conjunction with courts, the term common law has a third meaning: it refers to the original body of precedents developed by common-law courts as opposed to those developed by courts of equity, to be discussed shortly. 17 Smyth et al., p. 26. 18 Smyth et al., pp. 26 and 27 19 Interpretation Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. I-21, s. 12 (Can.). © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 9 interpretation of statutes considers the context, the custom and trade usage of the language, 20 and the intent or purpose of the statute when it was passed. SECTION 1-3: USING THE COURTS - An OVERVIEW OF CIVIL PROCEDURE The Court System Canada has a three-tier system similar to that of England, with courts of first instance (trial courts), intermediate courts of appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada. Figure 1-2 illustrates the federal court system and Figure 1-3 illustrates the Ontario provincial court system. Figure 1-2: The Federal Court System SUPREME COURT OF CANADA FEDERAL COURT OF APPEAL TAX COURT OF CANADA (Trial Division) FEDERAL COURT (Trial Division) Tax Tribunals Federal Tribunals, Commissions, etc., subject to review by the Federal Court The Federal Court (Trial Division) has jurisdiction over claims against the federal government, litigation in areas of federal jurisdiction under the Constitution, and appeals from federal tribunals. The Tax Court of Canada has jurisdiction over goods and services tax, income tax, employment insurance, and appeals from tribunals in these areas. 20 Smyth et al., pp. 24-25. © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 10 The Federal Court of Appeal hears appeals from the Tax Court and the Federal Court (Trial Division). The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court in the country. It is necessary to have leave, or permission, to appeal to the Supreme Court. The Court generally agrees to hear only cases that raise an issue of national importance. Appeals are almost always heard by five, seven, or nine justices (as the judges are called). Figure 1-3: The Ontario Court System SUPREME COURT OF CANADA COURT OF APPEAL FOR ONTARIO Divisional Court SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE (Trial Division) Small Claims Court ONTARIO COURT OF JUSTICE Provincial Tribunals, Commissions, etc., subject to review by provincial courts © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 11 The Ontario Court of Justice (Trial Court) uses provincially appointed judges for family-law (custody, support, and adoption) cases and for less-serious criminal offences. Justices of the Peace are used for provincial offences (traffic tickets), search warrants, and bail hearings. The Superior Court of Justice (Trial Court) uses federally appointed judges. It handles all civil litigation, family litigation (custody, support, and divorce), and more-serious criminal offences. For civil litigation, Ontario has a Small Claims Division that handles claims up to 25,000. Claims between 25,001 and 100,000 are resolved out of the Superior Court using a special 21 set of simplified rules. Claims in excess of 100,000 are dealt with by the Superior Court of 22 Justice under the regular Rules of Civil Procedure. The Divisional Court of the Superior Court has appellate jurisdiction for review of government action, appeals from the decisions of government tribunals, and appeals of civil cases up to 50,000. The Court of Appeal for Ontario (Appellate Court) decides cases in panels of three judges or more. It hears appeals from the Superior Court. In most other provinces, the Small Claims Court is a division of the Provincial Court. Ontario’s “provincial court” is the Ontario Court of Justice. Finally, the Supreme Court of Canada has jurisdiction over all appeals from provincial appeal courts. The Litigation Process Litigation is the system of resolving disputes in court. As a general rule, all adults are free to use the Canadian courts, whether or not they are Canadian citizens. Minors or adults with a mental disability can be sued or sue only through a court-appointed representative. Corporations are legal persons and therefore can sue or be sued. Unincorporated associations, with the exception of trade unions, cannot sue or be sued, but their individual members can. The general rule is that the “king can do no wrong,” which means governments cannot be sued unless a statutory authority permits it. Class action suits are also allowed, where a single person or a small group of people sues on behalf of a larger group of claimants. Class action claims are becoming increasingly prevalent in areas like product liability, mass torts (e.g., contaminated water supply), gender discrimination in the workplace, banking (e.g., improper service charges), business law (e.g., price fixing), and securities law (e.g., insider trading). 21 Rules of Civil Procedure, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 194. 22 Rules of Civil Procedure, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 194. © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 12 Figure 1-4 sets out the basic requirements that must be met before a class action receives 23 certification by the court to allow the various claims to be joined together in a class action. Figure 1-4: Class Action Suits Legal Representation If you sue or have been sued, you need to choose who will be your legal representative. Although you can represent yourself, an old expression states that, if you do, you have “a fool for a lawyer and a fool for a client.” Therefore, most litigants are represented by either a lawyer or a paralegal. Procedures Before a Trial The legal action begins with the filing of a statement of claim, in which the plaintiff (the person bringing forward the dispute) sets out the facts that allegedly have given rise to the cause of action and the plaintiff’s damages. The defendant (the person being complained about) responds by filing a statement of defence, in which the defendant outlines his or her version of the facts complained about by the plaintiff. The defendant may also file a counterclaim, a document that outlines any complaint the defendant wishes to counter against the complaint of the plaintiff. 23 Ontario is one of seven provinces, along with the federal jurisdiction, to enact legislation to clarify rules of class actions. The details vary by jurisdiction, but the basic rules are shown in Figure 1-4. McInnes et al., pp. 31-32. © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 13 The plaintiff then files a reply, which outlines the plaintiff’s response to the version of the facts set out by the defendant in his or her Statement of Defence. If a Counterclaim was made, the plaintiff also files a defence to counterclaim, in which the plaintiff outlines his or her version of the facts complained about by the defendant in the Counterclaim. These documents form the pleadings, the documents that provide the information each party intends to prove in court. If, after receiving the basic pleadings, the parties are still not sure what the other side has in mind, a demand for particulars may be used to require the other side to provide additional information. There are also examinations for discovery, in which parties examine each other to further narrow the issues and decide whether to proceed with a trial. During discoveries, information is gathered under oath outside of the court, with the parties and their representatives meeting before a licensed legal reporter. Each party must also produce a list of witnesses and relevant documents. Since many of the documents are in electronic form, production of these documents may be referred to as e-discovery. Each party learns about the strength of the other party’s case, which enables the parties to make an informed decision about whether to settle or press forward. A settlement occurs when the parties agree to resolve their dispute out of court. The vast 24 majority of claims—more than 95%—are settled out of court. The legal system is designed to encourage settlements because of the cost and time involved in using the court system. After the examinations for discovery, the judge may meet with the parties at a pre-trial conference to summarize the case and narrow down and/or resolve the issues between the two parties. The judge may also indicate which party is likely to win if the case goes to trial, thus encouraging the likely loser to settle. Depending on the jurisdiction, a pre-trial conference may be required, or it may be initiated either by the parties or the judge. Since 1999, Ontario has had a mandatory mediation program (MMP), which applies to most claims brought in large urban centres. Under the MMP, the parties must meet with a mediator (a neutral third party) within 90 days after the defence has been filed. Even when this process does not produce a settlement, it is likely to speed up the litigation process. The Trial A trial is an oral hearing of the issues by a judge alone, or by a judge and jury, to render a judgment on the matter. If a jury is used, the judge determines the law, while the jury is responsible for finding the facts and applying the law. 24 McInnes et al., p. 36. © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 14 The plaintiff is the first to present his or her evidence to the judge. This involves the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s witnesses taking the stand and answering questions from the plaintiff’s lawyer under oath. The plaintiff and the plaintiff’s witnesses are then cross-examined by the defendant’s lawyer. Following the plaintiff, the defendant has an opportunity to present his or her version of the facts to the judge and call witnesses. Once the defendant and the defendant’s witnesses have been questioned by the defendant’s lawyer, they are cross-examined by the plaintiff’s lawyer. Rules of evidence apply to determine the admissible evidence that may be provided in support of an argument. Ordinary witnesses may testify only about the facts they know first- hand, while expert witnesses may provide information and opinions based on the evidence. The courts also do not normally listen to hearsay evidence (information that a witness heard from another person). As well, if a party attempts to introduce surprise evidence, the court may refuse to hear it or may delay proceedings to give the other side an opportunity to reply and, in addition, may penalize the party with loss of costs. The burden of proof in a non-criminal action is on the plaintiff. To win, the plaintiff must establish the facts that prove the plaintiff’s case and then prove the case in law. The plaintiff must prove his or her complaint on a balance of probabilities. This means that the “defendant 25 will be held liable only if the scales are tipped in the plaintiff’s favour.” (This is in contrast to criminal cases, where the higher standard of beyond a reasonable doubt is imposed. In complex cases, the judge will reserve judgment and postpone giving a decision until after the court hearing ends and the judge has had time to review the evidence. 26 In civil litigation, a variety of remedies are available, as illustrated in Figure 1-5. Figure 1-5: Remedies in Civil Litigation Remedy Purpose Compensatory Financially compensate for a loss. damages Punitive damages Punish the party for acting very badly. Symbolically recognize that the party acted wrongfully even though Nominal damages the other party did not suffer any loss/harm. Require the party to fulfill its obligation or promise. Specific performance Require the party to act or not act in a particular way. Injunction Terminate a contract. Rescission 25 McInnes et al., p. 37. 26 McInnes et al., p. 38. © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 15 The winning party is also normally awarded costs, the expenses incurred by it during the litigation. However, the costs are usually partial indemnity costs, which only partially indemnify (usually around 40 to 50%) the winner for fees and disbursements paid to his or her lawyer. In exceptional cases, if the action is deemed to be frivolous or vexatious, or if a reasonable settlement offer is rejected, substantial indemnity costs may be awarded (usually around 65 to 75% of the winner’s actual costs). Neither of these costs in any way compensates the winner for the time, energy, and emotional toll that a court case can take. Thus, in the end, it may be questionable whether the winner really won at all. Appeals An appeal must be requested within a certain time limit, usually within 30 days after the trial court renders its decision. The person who challenges the decision of the lower court is the appellant, and the person who defends the original decision is the respondent. The appellate court (appeal court) decides whether a mistake was made in the trial court. Normally, appeals are heard by at least three judges. The judges hear and read arguments from the parties or their lawyers, but do not hear witnesses or receive evidence. Generally speaking, appeal courts accept the findings of fact of the trial judge and reconsider only the application of the law. However, sometimes an appeal may be launched on the basis that the judge made procedural errors such as excluding important evidence or admitting improper evidence or, more rarely, on the basis that the evidence does not support the judge's finding of fact. Alternative Dispute Resolution Alternate dispute resolution (ADR) refers to private procedures to resolve disputes without going to court. The advantages of ADR include speed, reduced cost, choice of mediator or adjudicator, confidentiality (not generating bad publicity or divulging confidential information), 27 and the preservation of ongoing relations between the two parties. ADR may be preferable because the outcome of a trial is unpredictable, given the number of factors that go into a trial. Furthermore, sometimes no amount of money awarded in damages by a judge will make the situation right, and ADR may allow for an alternative outcome, such as an explanation and an 28 29 apology. Finally, ADR may allow for a win-win resolution. There are three major types of ADR: 1. Negotiation does not involve a third party, nor is there any guarantee of binding resolution. It is the most common type of ADR since business people routinely settle their differences through discussion. 27 Smyth et al., p. 44. 28 McInnes et al., pp. 50-51. 29 Yates, p. 19. © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 16 2. Mediation is a process by which a neutral third party who is acceptable to both sides assists them in reaching a settlement by clarifying issues, outlining the strengths and weaknesses of both sides, and suggesting possible solutions. The mediator does not render a decision. Mediation is usually voluntary but may be required by contract or, as is sometimes the case in Ontario, by law. 3. Arbitration is a process where the parties agree to be bound by the decision of a neutral third party who adjudicates the matter, although there may be a right to appeal to the courts. The arbitrator, who is chosen by the parties for his or her expertise in an area, hears witnesses and reviews evidence. Again, arbitration may be required by contract or law. For example, pursuant to the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP), contracts between customers and dealers require disputes to be arbitrated before that body rather than through litigation. Increasingly, mediation and arbitration are combined into Med-Arb, a two-step process that first attempts mediation but, if that does not work, empowers the mediator to impose a binding 30 solution. Administrative Tribunals An administrative tribunal is a body that resolves disputes arising in administrative law. It is sometimes said to exercise a “quasi-judicial” function. It can make binding decisions that affect legal rights but generally operates more informally than courts in that, for instance, strict rules of 31 evidence typically don’t apply. Thus, it is “somewhere between a government and a court.” The members of a tribunal are usually selected by the parties or by a statutory process, and are appointed on the basis of special knowledge or extensive experience in an area. Tribunal decisions are highly respected and not easily overturned. If a party is dissatisfied with a tribunal decision, the party can sometimes ask a court for judicial review. A court will apply one of two standards during a judicial review. If it uses a reasonableness standard, the court will defer to the tribunal’s expertise and will overturn only those tribunal decisions that are unreasonable. On the other hand, a correctness standard does not require judicial deference, and the court is free to impose the “correct” judgment. The latter standard is used for general issues of law that are not within the tribunal’s area of special knowledge. The government often inserts a privative clause into legislation that creates and empowers a tribunal. Such a clause attempts to prevent a court from exercising judicial review over a tribunal decision. If the clause is properly drafted, the tribunal’s jurisdiction is “final and conclusive” and not usually subject to judicial review. 30 Yates, p. 19. 31 McInnes et al., p. 49. © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 17 STUDY QUESTIONS FOR PART 1: LEGAL FUNDAMENTALS 1. When referring to a system of law, common law refers to: a. The legal system in which laws are based on precedent, i.e., the recorded reasons given by judges for their decisions, which are adopted by judges in later cases with similar facts. b. The legal system derived from Roman law that focuses on the development of a comprehensive legislated code. c. The rules of law administered by the courts of equity. d. The rights and duties that each person has in society. 2. Which of these is not true regarding the doctrine of stare decisis? a. A lower court is bound by a decision of a superior court in the same jurisdiction when the superior court has decided the same issue. b. A decision in one province is binding in other provinces. c. Lower courts have considerable leeway to distinguish the earlier case on the basis of its facts. d. All of the above are true. 3. This type of statute prohibits an activity that used to be permitted or permits an activity that used to be prohibited: a. Bill b. Passive legislation c. Active legislation d. Subordinate legislation 4. This is not a fundamental freedom under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: a. Religion b. Thought c. Mobility d. Association 5. In Ontario, the Small Claims Court hears: a. Less-serious criminal offences b. Civil claims up to 25,000 c. Taxation disputes d. Appeals of civil cases up to 50,000 6. In Ontario, if you commenced a civil case claiming damages in excess of 100,000, the courts you would potentially work your way through are: a. Small Claims Court, Divisional Court, Court of Appeal for Ontario b. Small Claims Court, Court of Appeal for Ontario, Supreme Court of Canada c. Ontario Court of Justice, Superior Court of Justice (Divisional Court), Court of Appeal for Ontario d. Superior Court of Justice, Court of Appeal for Ontario, Supreme Court of Canada © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 18 7. This requirement for a class-action suit refers to one or a few people having a workable plan for pleading the case on behalf of a whole class of people: a. There are common issues b. There is a representative plaintiff c. There is a workable notification plan d. The court is convinced a class action is the preferable procedure 8. Which of these is not true about evidence at a civil litigation trial? a. The plaintiff is the first to present evidence to the judge. b. Ordinary witnesses may testify about evidence they heard from another person. c. Expert witnesses may provide opinions based on the evidence. d. The court may refuse to hear surprise evidence. 9. This remedy in civil litigation is designed to make amends to the victim for loss suffered by the victim: a. Compensatory damages b. Punitive damages c. Nominal damages d. Specific performance e. Injunction 10. This remedy in civil litigation is designed to make the guilty party fulfill his or her obligation or promise to the injured party: a. Compensatory damages b. Punitive damages c. Specific performance d. Injunction e. Rescission 11. This type of alternative dispute resolution method is sometimes required by law in Ontario; the third party does not render a decision but only clarifies issues and suggests possible solutions: a. Mediation b. Arbitration c. Med/Arb d. Negotiation © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved. Business Law Notes Pa g e 19 ANSWERS TO STUDY QUESTIONS FOR PART 1: LEGAL FUNDAMENTALS 1. A. One of the meanings of common law is a legal system where laws are based on precedent. B is civil law. C refers to a second set of courts that came into existence to provide remedies other than monetary damages. D refers to substantive law, which in turn, is divided into public and private law. 2. B. A decision in one province is persuasive in other provinces but not binding, whereas a decision of the Supreme Court is binding in all jurisdictions. 3. B. Passive legislation either prohibits an activity that was formerly permitted or permits an activity that was formerly prohibited. Active legislation gives government the right to carry on various programs, which in turn gives rise to the need for subordinate legislation created by administrative agencies to exercise their regulatory powers. A bill is a proposed law that has not yet received Royal Assent. 4. C. Mobility rights are protected rights under the Charter, but they are not fundamental freedoms as are freedom of religion, thought, and association. 5. B. In Ontario, the Small Claims court hears civil claims up to 25,000. Less-serious criminal offences are heard by the Ontario Court of Justice (Ontario’s trial court). The Divisional Court of the Superior Court of Justice hears appeals of civil cases up to 50,000. Taxation disputes are heard by the Tax Court of Canada. 6. D. In Ontario, cases over 100,000 would start in the Superior Court, proceed to the Court of Appeal of Ontario, and finally be heard (provided leave is given) in the Supreme Court. 7. B. The representative plaintiff is the person or persons who are judged to have a workable plan for pleading the case on behalf of a whole class of people. 8. B. Ordinary witnesses may testify only about facts they know first-hand, while experts may provide opinions based on the evidence. The courts do not normally listen to hearsay evidence (information a witness heard from another person). 9. A. Compensatory damages are monetary damages designed to make amends to the victim for the loss suffered. 10. C. Specific performance would require the defendant to fulfill his or her obligation. Compensatory damages make amends to the victim for the loss suffered. 11. A. Mediation uses a neutral third party who is acceptable to both sides to help the parties reach a settlement. © 2012 Certified Management Accountants of Ontario. All rights reserved.

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