#CBC: “Trade disputes, lawsuits driving up Ottawa’s legal bills” #Toronto #Montreal #Calgary #Ottawa #Canada

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The federal authorities’s authorized payments are rising sharply, pushed partly by recent commerce disputes with the United States.

The Department of Justice paid $26.four million to exterior legislation companies and different authorized brokers in 2017-2018, the most important quantity because the authorities started publicly reporting figures 5 years in the past.

The largest invoice final yr got here from a Washington, D.C.-based legislation agency that helps Ottawa combat commerce battles with the United States over softwood lumber and different exports.

Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP acquired an $Eight million payout, largely for work led by their worldwide commerce accomplice Joanne Osendarp, beforehand senior counsel in Canada’s Foreign Affairs division (now known as Global Affairs Canada).

Osendarp’s staff gained a key resolution for Canada in July on the World Trade Organization in a dispute with Washington over shiny paper exports.

The work of that agency and 54 others helped drive up the skin authorized invoice by about 23 per cent over the yr earlier than.

Dip in spending attributable to election

Since 2013, when Justice began to proactively situation spending experiences, the price of hiring exterior authorized brokers has largely remained regular at about $22 million yearly. (There was a dip to $14.5 million in 2015-2016, partly as a result of the federal election marketing campaign from August to October restricted authorities operations.)

Overall authorized prices for the Liberal authorities have been about $461 million in 2016-2017, the final yr for which figures can be found — up by about $30 million over the earlier yr. The complete consists of the price of hiring exterior counsel and all different prices for a broad number of authorized providers offered to dozens of departments.

A briefing be aware for Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, obtained below the Access to Information Act, notes the latest rise in authorized prices for the federal authorities, however particulars are blacked out to guard solicitor-client privilege. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

A June 2018 briefing be aware to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, obtained by CBC News below the Access to Information Act, flags the rise in exterior authorized prices for 2017-2018 because the “result of new and continued activity of major cases.”

But the division blacked out the precise causes, claiming solicitor-client privilege. An annex to the be aware that lists the circumstances being dealt with by the 55 legislation companies and brokers can also be redacted.

Asked to clarify the sharp improve in prices final yr, division spokesman Ian McLeod mentioned solely that it’s “likely linked to a number of new/renewed or active litigation and advisory matters.”

Ottawa going through over 40,000 claims

The federal authorities is juggling greater than 40,000 authorized claims, about three-quarters of which identify Ottawa as defendant or respondent. Collectively, they pose a theoretical monetary legal responsibility working within the lots of of billions of {dollars}.

To higher co-ordinate the large litigation agenda, the Trudeau authorities struck a particular committee on Aug. 22, 2016, often called the Cabinet Committee on Litigation Management, chaired by Dominic LeBlanc, then fisheries minister.

At the time, LeBlanc mentioned “the more coherence and effective management we can bring to this, it might have a positive impact on the government’s financial position.”

The committee was quietly disbanded on Aug. 28, 2018, when the cupboard was final shuffled; its work was farmed out to different cupboard committees, mentioned Stephane Shank, a spokesperson for Privy Council Office.

“Litigation-related Indigenous issues may, for example, be considered by the Cabinet Committee on Reconciliation,” he mentioned.

Although Justice has refused to supply particulars of its authorized payments, latest experiences point out some costly lawsuits are underway.

CBC News reported that two class-action lawsuits over sexual harassment of ladies and men within the navy, every launched in 2016, collectively had value the division $963,572 in authorized charges as of February this yr. The two lawsuits are urgent claims for as much as $1 billion in compensation.

Another $1.three million in authorized charges has been spent defending 73 different circumstances involving veterans. This month, one other settlement was proposed in a 2016 class-action lawsuit with disabled veterans, price $100 million.

Some high-profile lawsuits have been launched by First Nations communities. Others elevate points linked to the setting and pure sources.

McLeod mentioned authorized charges paid to exterior brokers hit about $40 million in 2011-2012, below the earlier authorities of Stephen Harper, although Justice has not posted the numbers.

Joanne Osendarp, a accomplice on the Washington, D.C., legislation agency Hughes Hubbard & Reed, is at the moment Canada’s essential employed gun in commerce disputes with the United States. (Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP)

The complete dropped sharply the next yr, to about $21.5 million, “due in large part to the conclusion of many large and active files,” he mentioned.

Despite the blacked-out recordsdata from Justice, it is clear that new commerce disputes are contributing to the latest rise in authorized prices for out of doors counsel.

In 2014-2015, the Washington-based authorized agency Hughes Hubbard & Reed, specializing in commerce disputes, invoiced Ottawa $335,145 for work that yr, placing them at No. 12 on the Department of Justice’s billing record.

But within the following three years, the agency occupied No. 1 on the record, billing the federal authorities $2.1 million (2015-2016), $8.5 million (2016-2017) and $8.three million within the final fiscal yr.

Most of that authorized work was shepherded by Osendarp, a Canadian citizen who has been a accomplice on the agency for the final seven years.

Follow @DeanBeeby on Twitter

Note: “Previously Published on: 2018-09-16 04:00:00, as ‘Trade disputes, lawsuits driving up Ottawa’s authorized payments’ on CBC RADIO-CANADA. Here is a supply hyperlink for the Article’s Image(s) and Content”.

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