Month: January 2023

Family Law Act’s proposed changes focussing on children

Proposed laws to simplify the process for families separating and to create safer circumstances for children are now open for consultation.

The reforms will transform the approach to custody arrangements, with six simple ‘best interests’ factors to help courts settle on the best parenting arrangements for each child.

Under the current regime family law judges deciding custody arrangements must consider two primary factors and thirteen additional factors; and be guided by four objects, five principles and one presumption.

Attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said the amendments placed the best interests of children at the centre of the family law system.

“These long overdue proposed reforms replace the often confusing law around parenting arrangements with a simpler child-focused framework that will guide parents who can agree on their own post-separation parenting arrangements,” the A-G said in a statement on Monday.

“It will also streamline the process for courts who determine the minority of parenting disputes where agreement has not been reached.”

Dreyfus added recent inquiries had found the provisions for ‘equal shared parental responsibility’ were widely misunderstood. This complexity tended to draw out time in court and conflict between parties.

“The draft legislation repeals these provisions, making clear that the best interests of children are paramount,” he said.

Other proposed changes include a requirement that when Independent Children’s Lawyers (ICLs) are appointed they meet with children, more powers for the courts to protect parties from lengthy, adversarial litigation, as well as simpler compliance and enforcement provisions for child-related orders.

Judges will also have more discretion to appoint an ICL in matters under the Hague Convention where Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction arise.

The reforms proposed in the draft Family Law Act Bill 2023 include recommendations to address the family law system made by the Australian Law Reform Commission in 2019 and some

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Does the Implementation of Law 25 Present Any Challenges for your Business? Here are Some Basic Notions (Bulletin 1 of 3) | Knowledge

The Private Sector Act[2] applies to any enterprise (within the meaning of the third paragraph of article 1525 of the Civil Code of Québec) that, in the course of its activities, collects, uses, communicates or retains personal information, even in certain cases without an establishment in Québec. Conversely, it will probably not apply to a business located in Québec that does not have employees and that does business without processing the personal information of Quebecers. This is ultimately a factual issue that may require legal advice.

Most provinces in Canada have specific legislation on the protection of personal health information. In Québec, several general laws govern health information, including the Private Sector Act and the Act respecting Access to documents held by public bodies and the Protection of personal information[3] (the “Access Act”), which provide additional protection for health information as “sensitive” personal information. For example, the Private Sector Act provides that the use of sensitive personal information for an undisclosed purpose at the time of collection must be subject to express consent.[4]

On December 7, 2022, the ministre de la Cybersécurité et du Numérique tabled Bill 3 An Act respecting health and social services information and amending various legislative provisions (“Bill 3), to create a unified regime for health information held by health and social service organizations.

To learn more on Bill 3, see our bulletin The New and the Familiar: Changes to Health Information.

Law 25 defines personal information as any information which relates to a natural person and allows that person to be directly or indirectly identified.[5] For example, an identification number (such as an employee number), name, mailing address, email address, banking information may constitute personal information. Certain personal information is considered more sensitive and thus requires stronger

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Buzzfeed, Banana Republic Legal Chiefs Switch to Education Arena

Buzzfeed Inc. and Gap Inc. lawyers left their posts to join education platforms after the pandemic demonstrated the importance of technology as a learning tool.

Rhonda Powell, who recently stepped down as Buzzfeed Inc.’s chief legal officer, has become general counsel for the nonprofit Strada Education Network Inc. The group works to strengthen connections between education and employment through advocacy, data, and training, among other things.

Marie Ma has become the top lawyer for Articulate Global Inc., a corporate learning and training platform. She started Jan. 23 after 19 years at the Gap Inc., where Ma was a divisional general counsel for the retailer’s Banana Republic brand and a deputy general counsel for its San Francisco-based parent company.

Their moves come as a growing number of women leave private practice for in-house jobs in part because many believe it’s easier to advance their legal careers outside of law firms and that the work-life balance is better.

Powell said her role at Strada, an Indianapolis-based organization formerly known as USA Funds, is a “unique and rewarding opportunity” that aligns her professional pursuits with her passion and commitment to education access.

She also serves on the boards of PowerMyLearning and the Food Education Fund, two other nonprofits focused on educational equity.

Diversity Lacking

Powell had joined Buzzfeed in 2018 to replace the media company’s former general counsel, Allison Lucas, who is now a deputy general counsel at the Gap.

While women law department leaders now make up nearly half of the Fortune 500, the number of individuals from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds in those positions is lacking, she said.

“I will continue to educate on the particular challenges and roadblocks women of color are facing within the profession—in almost all settings—and use my skills and resources to combat them,” Powell said.

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Tyler Shandro Law Society of Alberta conduct hearing begins

Alberta’s justice minister began a three-day Law Society of Alberta hearing Tuesday to answer allegations he broke the lawyers’ code of conduct.

Three complaints against Tyler Shandro stem from his time as health minister early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Mukarram Zaidi told the hearing he had posted a photo on social media of Shandro with a caption related to privatizing health care. He said the minister and his wife visited his home in March 2020 during fractious negotiations between the government and the Alberta Medical Association over fees.

The photo of Shandro, with a thought bubble caption, said “So every Albertan that I can kick off health care is another client we can sign up for Vital Partners. We’re going to be RICH.”

Shandro’s wife, Andrea, is the co-founder of Vital Partners, a health insurance agency.

Zaidi said he went outside of his home to meet Shandro, whom he described as being highly upset. He said Shandro demanded that the doctor remove the post immediately because his family was being subjected to death threats.

“As I stepped out into the driveway I see Shandro and his wife standing at the sidewalk. He was crying, he was emotionally charged. His wife was holding him,” Zaidi said.

“He said, ‘you can’t do this to us. We’re getting death threats.’ I think I asked him, ‘what do you want me to do?’ And he said, ‘delete your post.”’

Zaidi said he complied and felt that Shandro was visiting in his capacity as a government minister and not as a private citizen.

He said he has been a member of the United Conservative Party, was an activist and had known Shandro for some time.

Zaidi told the panel that he put the

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Changes to family law system on the cards

Australia’s family law system is set to be simplified as part of a wide-ranging overhaul.

The federal government released draft legislation of the family law changes on Monday, which will aim to address large court delays and access to support services.

Under the proposed changes, custody arrangements will be determined by six “best-interest factors” for the child, including child safety, a child’s development needs as well as the preferences of the child.

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Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the factors for best interests would be streamlined to make the system easier for the courts and for parents.

“These long overdue proposed reforms replace the often confusing law around parenting arrangement with a simpler child-focused framework,” he said.

The draft laws follow an inquiry by the Australian Law Reform Commission in 2019, as well as a parliamentary probe into the issue in 2021.

The proposed changes will also remove the presumption of “equal shared parental responsibility”, due to inquiries concluding the measure was misunderstood.

The presumption meant parents were required to consult with each other when making long-term decisions, but was often misinterpreted as creating a right to an equal amount of shared time with children.

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The laws will also introduce a requirement for independent children’s lawyers to meet with children to make sure their viewpoints were considered when court decisions are made.

Courts will be provided with greater powers to protect affected parties and children from protracted and adversarial litigation.

The changes propose a definition of what is a member of the family that would be inclusive of Indigenous concepts of family and kinship.

The changes have been welcomed by sexual, domestic and family violence prevention group Full Stop Australia.

Family lawyer and the organisation’s advocacy manager Angela Lynch said

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