courts, law, lawyers

A Tax on Broken Souls

is how one judge described the Mandatory Victims Surcharge. This surcharge – an additional fine tacked onto every criminal sentence- $100 for summary offences and $300 for  indictable ones -was made mandatory for all offenders in the 2013 criminal law reforms brought in by the Conservative government. Continue reading “A Tax on Broken Souls”

courts, jury trials, law, lawyers

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

We’re betting that David Berry Jr. will leave prison a reformed man next year. Not only was he slammed with a year-long jail sentence for deer poaching, but the Missouri judge who sentenced him also ordered that he watch the Disney movie Bambi in its entirety at least once a month during his incarceration. Continue reading “Cruel and Unusual Punishment”

Big Law, computers, courts, dispruptive technology, law, Law Society of BC, lawyers

The Legal year that was-2018

Once again this year I succumb to the lazy pundits’ content creation strategy of posting a retrospective on the highlights of the legal year now drawing to a close. And why Not? Not only has it been a busy, busy year, but I have a hunch that a few years down the pike, analysts will be opining that 2018 was a watershed year in the evolution of the profession. Continue reading “The Legal year that was-2018”

courts, law, Law Society of BC, lawyers

Justice Delayed

Since the Attorney General seems determined to create a species of half-trained lawyers and to have them regulated by the Law Society perhaps we ought to examine some of the mechanics of how that might work. Continue reading “Justice Delayed”

courts, divorce, family law, law, lawyers, politics

Herding Cats

There is an old saying that  managing lawyers is just like herding cats: neither likes being managed, herded or told what to do, as the Law Society of BC and the Attorney General discovered last week at the Society’s Annual General meeting, where the lawyers, hissing and scratching all the way, torpedoed the AG’s latest pet project. Continue reading “Herding Cats”

law, lawyers, wills & estates

Know when to hold ’em

An Executor’s job has never been an easy one, stick handling through the paperwork and bureaucracy to wrap up a deceased’s affairs while all the while dealing with the foibles and expectations of impatient beneficiaries.

It seem that every one is a critic when it comes to the disposition of the big-ticket items in the estate, the house, cottage or business, and the sniping doesn’t stop when dealing with the small stuff like the picture over the mantle and the costume jewellery.

The advent of crypto-currencies gives beneficiaries yet another golden opportunity to throw stones at beleaguered executors, who typically are walking blindfolded into a minefield when they enter the Alice-in Wonderland word of Bit-coin and Ethereum

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An executor is charged with liquidating the assets of the estate in a careful, prudent and timely manner. More easily said than done in a world where asset values fluctuate constantly. Executors have long wrestled with decisions such as -” do I list the house for sale now, or wait til the spring, in hopes the market will continue to rise ?”. Lawyers, recognizing the problem of constantly changing asset values , usually include clauses in wills empowering executors to retain assets such as stocks and other securities in the form in which they were found at the  date of death. Still, an executor is playing “hot potato” while holding onto any assets whose value can slide. Beneficiaries don’t want apologies they want cash!

Enter the era of digital currency – would it be an exaggeration to say that never before in the  history of mankind has a more mercurial asset class existed? ( well, maybe tulips, during the infamous ‘Tulip mania’ bubble Tulipomaniain fifteenth century Holland – but that’s another story !) From a 2014  value of around $120 the coin skyrocketed to an $18,000 high last December, before taking coin holders on a breathtaking roller coaster ride during 2018. A month ago a coin was worth  over $6,000 while today, a month later , it trades at half that value.

So what’s an executor to do?  how do you make a prudent business decision when dealing with a completely new class of asset, that you don’t understand, that fluctuates wildly in value? One wrong move and you are dead meat, and liable to be devoured by ravenous beneficiaries.

It’s certainly something to think about, when you get the phone call from that nerdy friend who dabbles in crypto currencies asking if you would mind being his executor. ( and,m if you are that nerdy guy, could you do every one a favour by liquidating your crypto – currency positions  before you shuffle of your mortal coil?)