Welcome to Professors Larissa Katz and Malcolm Thorburn

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Faculty of Law is pleased to welcome Professors Larissa Katz and Malcolm Thorburn, who officially joined the law school on July 2, 2013. The scholars were hired in 2011 but were on sabbatical at the University of Oxford, then taught for a final year at Queen’s University. 

Larissa Katz holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Alberta; a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Alberta;  and a Master of Laws and SJD from Yale Law School.  She served as a law clerk to Justice Gonthier at the Supreme Court of Canada, and worked as a litigation lawyer with Sullivan & Cromwell in New York for two years prior to entering academia.  Professor Katz works on property law and property theory and publishes widely in that field.  She will teach Property and Trusts.

New issue of UT Law Journal edited by Prof. Angela Fernandez focuses on "Animals in the Law and Legal History"

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The new issue of the University of Toronto Law Journal (63:1, January 2013) is a special focus issue edited by Prof. Angela Fernandez, titled Foxes, Seals, Whales and the Rule of Capture: Animals in the Law and Legal History.

Disappointing Catch in the Supreme Court

This commentary was first published in the Financial Post on November 21, 2008.

One of the important roles of the Supreme Court of Canada is to resolve conflicts among lower courts on difficult issues of law and, in the commercial sphere and other areas of consensual law, to develop rules and doctrines that promote predictability of outcomes and enhance the free-flow of goods and services among contracting parties.

Judged by these standards, the Supreme Court's decision last month in Saulnier vs. Royal Bank of Canada will disappoint many, not because of what the court said but because of what it failed to say.

The immediate issues before the court were whether a bank can acquire a valid security interest in a commercial fishing license issued by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and held by a Nova Scotia fisher, and whether a trustee in bankruptcy acquires the fisher's interest in the license if the fisher becomes bankrupt.

However, fishing licenses are only a small subset of a much larger realm of licenses issued by a multitude of government agencies --federal, provincial and municipal. Typical examples are milk quotas for dairy farms, tobacco quotas for tobacco farmers, nursing home licenses to care for the elderly, taxicab licenses, landing licenses for aircraft at commercial airports and broadcasting and cable licenses.

An Insidious Cultural Campaign

This commentary by Prof. Ed Morgan was first published in the National Post on July 2, 2009.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, which are being exhibited this week at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), have survived time, weather, sand--and now the political storm caused by protests at their being toured by the Israel Museum, which houses the scrolls in Jerusalem.

Opponents of the exhibit include the Palestinian Minister of Tourism and Canadian solidarity groups supporting the Palestinian cause. They accuse the Israel Museum of having taken the scrolls from the Jordanian Department of Antiquities upon Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967. Israel's actions are alleged to be contrary to international conventions protecting cultural artifacts and prohibiting their removal.

The ROM is right to stare down the protests.

In the first place, prior to 1967, the part of the West Bank in which the scrolls were discovered was illegally occupied by the Kingdom of Jordan -- an occupation condemned by virtually every existing international organization, including the Arab League and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. If one doesn't like Israel's current possession of the scrolls because of Israel's occupation of the territory from which they come, one cannot possibly like the Jordanian claim any better.

‘Bonus’ Zoning and the Development Approval Game

This commentary was first published in The Lawyers Weekly on August 26, 2011.

What does a property owner do to build a high density condo/retail development on its parcel in Brampton, Ontario - the heartland of suburban sprawl - or to build a low density subdivision on its green field in Markham, Ontario - the capital of 'new urbanist' design? It does what few applicants for a state-issued license would ever think of doing: it makes a deal.

As those in the field well know, deal-making is authorized under section 37 of the Planning Act. What Canadians lightly dub "bonuses", and Americans more darkly label "exactions", have become an integral part of the development approval game. For owners and communities, the game is one of materially high stakes; and for constitutional theorists, the struggle between an individual's rights and the collectivity's needs are as high as the normative stakes can get.

As a starting point, the courts have ensured that no personal gain can be bargained for by officials in a conflict position. Moreover, the Ontario Municipal Board has expressed the view that section 37 bargains must be "commensurate with the additional density or development rights" achieved in the application, and that city officials keep in mind that "the public should receive some tangible benefit." Beyond that, however, just about any deal goes.