Paul Schabas seeking re-election as Bencher, Law Society of Upper Canada
Toronto lawyer Paul B. Schabas, a partner at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, is seeking a third term as a Bencher in the upcoming April 30, 2015 Law Society of Upper Canada election. Mr. Schabas is also a defendant in the Donald Best v. Gerald Ranking et al civil lawsuit.
According to his biography, Mr. Schabas is one of Canada’s leading media lawyers:
“As one of Canada’s leading media lawyers, Paul has appeared on many recent cases in the Supreme Court of Canada, including Grant v. Torstar, which established a new public interest defence to libel.”
No doubt Mr. Schabas is the ‘go to guy’ for many major news media outlets for libel defence, or for legal advice about whether or not to cover contentious or potentially explosive news stories.
Apparently Mr. Schabas was a bencher when Donald Best sent letters to him and other lawyers on December 1, 2009, alleging that lawyers Gerald Ranking, Lorne Silver and Sebastien Kwidzinski lied to the court in a written ‘Statement for the Record’ they filed as evidence. Mr. Best’s letter can be found here. A summary of the incident is here: Donald Best secretly (and legally) recorded call with lawyers Gerald Ranking, Lorne Silver
Mr. Best also wrote to the Executive of the Law Society of Upper Canada on November 28, 2012, alleging amongst other wrongdoing by lawyers, that:
“There is also strong forensic evidence that a series of threatening and harassing anonymous emails to my witnesses originated from the computer systems of one of the involved large Toronto law firms (Miller Thomson), starting in at least 2004 and carrying on for many years. There is strong documentary evidence that the Miller Thomson law firm was provided with this evidence in writing in 2009 and 2010, yet the firm’s lawyer, Mr. Andrew Roman, withheld the evidence from the judge during my case: all the while arguing that his client and firm were not involved.”
Best’s November 28, 2012 letter can be found here. A summary of the incident can be read here: Court evidence: Anonymous online threats against 82 year old widow originated from Miller Thomson Law Office
Mr. Schabas is the current Chair of the Proceedings Authorization Committee which decides which cases against lawyers should go to a Discipline Hearing. The following excerpts are from his campaign website PaulSchabas.ca:
I currently Chair the Proceedings Authorization Committee (PAC), which decides which cases should go to a Discipline Hearing. As a result, I cannot currently sit on discipline matters, although I heard many cases before being appointed Chair of PAC.
PAC is a very busy committee, working closely with senior staff in considering when it is in the public interest to authorize proceedings.
I have been a strong proponent of making the discipline process more open and transparent. The Law Society has been criticized lately for having too much secrecy respecting its investigations and lawyers who pose a danger to the public. Transparency is always good – public scrutiny ensures fairness. I am pressing for greater transparency when it comes to identifying those lawyers who are a threat to the public. If the Law Society isn’t more proactive here, we will rightly be criticized for protecting our own, and not protecting the public.
There have been some high-profile, lengthy prosecutions which have been controversial in the last few years. I have not been involved in them, but share some of the concerns raised about the propriety and fairness of proceeding with them, and the expense involved. We need to be prudent and strategic in making sure we pursue the cases that are in the public interest and maintain our core standards in order to protect the public.
To Mr. Best’s knowledge, the Law Society of Upper Canada did not initiate an investigation into his allegations, and has not secured or examined any of the court evidence, or evidence at the law firms, or listened to the secret recordings. The LSUC has never approached Mr. Best or his lawyer about any of the evidence or allegations.
However, visitors to DonaldBest.CA can examine the evidence, listen to the secret November 17, 2009 recordings, read what the lawyers told the Court on December 2, 2009 and make up their own minds as to the truth.
As explained in our FAQ page:
What did the Law Society of Upper Canada do regarding the evidence of threats to Donald Best’s witnesses that originated from the Miller Thomson LLP law firm? Did the LSUC seize evidence from Miller Thomson LLP’s computers? What happened?
To our knowledge, the Law Society of Upper Canada did nothing to preserve or examine the evidence that Miller Thomson personnel made anonymous threats to Mr. Best’s witnesses, and that lawyer Andrew Roman withheld his knowledge of this from the court.
Why did the Law Society of Upper Canada not seize and investigate Miller Thomson’s computer data when the evidence of misconduct was strong and documented by two independent computer forensic examiners?
We have no idea. Your guess is as good as ours.
As always we remind our readers that none of the allegations has yet been proven in a court of law, and to our knowledge only one of the defendants has filed a Statement of Defence. Visitors to this website are encouraged to examine the legal documents and other evidence posted here, to do independent research and to make up their own minds about the civil lawsuit known as ‘Donald Best v. Gerald Ranking et al’. (Superior Court of Justice, Central East Region: Barrie, Court File No. 14-0815)
Law Society of Upper Canada logo belongs to that organization.