Monday, 29 October 2012

Rachel Barkow on Prosecutorial Administration

Rachel Barkow has an interesting new paper entitled Prosecutorial Administration. Her subject is institutional design. She argues that the prosecutorial imperatives of the U.S. Department of Justice have become pre-dominant, to the great detriment of three areas of regulation entrusted to the Department: corrections, clemency and forensics. Some of Barkow's observations about administrative agencies with multiple objectives and institutional culture are well-made and thought-provoking.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Keeping the Federal Government out of the Provincial Courts

In its 2010 decision in Telezone, the Supreme Court of Canada took a relatively relaxed approach to private law actions against the federal government in provincial court. The difficulty is that in some of these cases a court will have to adjudicate on the lawfulness -- as a public law matter -- of actions or decisions taken by federal authorities, but this is a matter reserved to the federal courts by the Federal Courts Act.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Language Politics and Administrative Law

If you walk through the city centre streets of Montreal, you could well be walking along any street in North America, such is the predominance of big-name brands. This has long been a bone of contention for Quebeckers. Protest marches are not uncommon. Symbolically, the issue is of great importance, all the more so given the recent return to power of the Parti Québécois.

Now from La Presse comes an interesting story about an application for judicial review by six multinational companies. They challenge a new interpretation of an existing regulation by the Office québécois de la langue française. If the interpretation withstands challenge, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Costco, Old Navy, Guess and Gap will have to add a French term to their English trademark.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

What Happens if you Overhear a Decision-Maker's Deliberations?

A funny thing happened at the Tribunal Administratif du Québec recently. A hearing was conducted into the suspension of an individual's driver's licence by videoconference. One of the administrative judges was present at the hearing; the other joined from a remote location. When the SAAQ -- the administrative agency that controls drivers' licences -- sought to introduce a medical note which it had not previously produced to the individual, the lawyers were asked to leave the room while the judges discussed admissibility.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Self-Represented Litigants and Administrative Tribunals

We know that administrative tribunals have plenty of scope to design their own procedures, which need not resemble those of a regular court. But there are limits, as the Québec Court of Appeal recently explained in a case involving a real estate agent who represented himself -- unsuccessfully -- at a disciplinary hearing.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Vote Obama to Save Federal Regulations!

That is the message of Cass Sunstein's contribution to a New York Review of Books symposium on the upcoming U.S. Presidential election. Sunstein headed up OIRA for three years under President Obama.