Business & The Law

Running your own business can be as scary as it is rewarding. Understanding the legal aspects of doing business is crucial to success. Legal mechanisms can facilitate this by setting reliable ground rules for everyone to follow, protecting business assets and other interests, and providing a mechanism for resolving disputes efficiently and predictably. However, a failure to understand legal processes can lead to problems with, or even the failure of, a business.

Managing Legal Risk

There is no handy list of all possible legal risks that can go wrong with any business. The law is continually evolving, as is technology and business. Further, specific industries are susceptible to different risks. However, a proactive approach to any business is initially implementing a legal risk management plan. This means identifying as many legal risks as possible and developing a comprehensive plan to address them.

Legal Risk Strategies

Working Within the Canadian Legal System

One of the key principles of the Canadian legal system is the so-called rule of law. The law is the highest authority in the law, and no person or entity is above it. The law is broken up into various spheres of authority or jurisdictions. Specific institutions and courts may only make rulings and determinations within their specific jurisdiction. For example, a criminal court may impose a sentence for an assault but cannot determine how much, if any, financial compensation has to be paid to the victim.

Most business disputes are resolved within the civil law framework. While the Superior Court of Justice Civil Courts have legal jurisdiction over such matters, many smaller bodies with limited authority to resolve such disputes are often referred to as administrative agencies.

Administrative Agencies

These agencies are governed or impose decisions by tribunals, boards or commissions. They work alongside government departments and ministries to enforce regulatory rules. An administrative tribunal is any government body that has a decision-making function. These all fall under the umbrella of administrative law.

Any administrative body has to be authorized by legislature or regulation and follow the so-called rules of natural justice in order to exercise any authority. This means that any entities that are to be affected by the decisions of this tribunal have to be notified that there is a hearing, all information or evidence must be shared, all parties must have an opportunity to speak, and the decision must be impartial.

Administrative Tribunals versus the Judicial Process

Hearings before a tribunal differ depending on the type of tribunal and the statute that created it. Administrative tribunals are simpler than courts in that they make binding decisions that affect legal rights but differ significantly. The decision-makers in tribunals are rarely judges. Instead, they usually comprise persons with the relevant knowledge to make the decisions. They are not bound by the “common law” structure of the judicial courts, meaning that each hearing is decided based on the facts before the tribunal only.

Further, administrative tribunals may consider public policy and generally utilize a less formal approach than courts. There is often no appeal process for administrative tribunals. However, it is possible to challenge a tribunal’s right to hear certain matters. This is a process known as “judicial review,” where the courts decide whether they have the proper standing to hold the hearing.

The judicial process is often long and expensive. Many matters, even in small claims, take years to work through the system and are becoming increasingly difficult to navigate, except for trained counsel. The administrative tribunal system was created partially in response to streamlining grievances into specialized bodies with the hope that they would resolve such disputes much more quickly.

This blog post does not constitute legal advice and was written solely to provide information. If you would like to consult with a lawyer about the issues raised in this post, please contact Empel Law Professional Corporation at 416-500-1937.

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Arkadiusz J. Empel urodził się w Katowicah. Jako dziecko emigrował do Kanady, razem z rodziną, lecz wrócił jako student aby ukończyć Pracę Magisterską w Krakowie. Przez swoją pracę z polonią w okolicy Toronto utrzymał władność w swojim języku ojczystym. Jeżeli Państwo życzy się skonsultować prosto z adwokatem Polski, proszę przedzwonić na numer 416-500-1937.