Prince William and Duchess Kate’s Housekeeper: What would it take to be hired?

Kate

It’s recently come to light that Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton are looking for a new housekeeper!

The royal couple already have one son together, and Kate is due with her second any day now! As I’m sure is true for most couples, they’re looking for some extra help around the house.

Thinking about the pressure that would come with being a housekeeper to the future heirs of the English throne, I thought about the position, and what the couple might be looking for.

Of course, they’ll want someone who’s outstanding, credible, and qualified. But what else will they require?

It made me wonder not just how much of a saint the housekeeper has to be, but also what kind of measures the royal couple could take to ensure that whoever they hire is who he or she claims to be.

I thought I’d focus on drug and alcohol testing in Ontario. Would it be allowed? Can it be random?


In Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30, v Irving Pulp and Paper Ltd, at issue was a random alcohol testing policy that was used despite no evidence of a workplace problem with alcohol use and/or abuse.

The policy called for 10% of employees to be randomly selected for unannounced breathalyzer testing over the course of a year

If you tested positive, you faced severe disciplinary action, including dismissal.

The union representing the employees took issue with this! It argued that the absence of any evidence of a problem meant that this was just an unjust intrusion into the workers’ lives. The case went all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada!

There, it was decided that the initial decision – that this was way too much of an unjustified intrusion – was reasonable, and it would be wrong to interfere with the original arbitrator’s opinion.

The court stated that any rule or policy unilaterally imposed by an employer and not agreed to by the employees (through their union) must be consistent with the collective agreement and be reasonable.

Looking to what it means to be ‘reasonable,’ the court stated that there must be a balancing of interests.

Basically, when the employer wants to introduce something like random drug and alcohol testing, the question to be asked is whether the benefit to the employer from the random alcohol testing policy is proportional to the harm it could have on employee privacy.

This ‘balancing of interests’ approach is, of course, problematic. It means that the same issue could have different outcomes, depending on the arbitrator!

It looks like the courts will look to your job and your boss’s need for the testing, and then make a game day judgment call.


Annoyingly, this is yet another situation of ‘it depends.’

As you’ve seen if you’ve been following the blog, this is a long-running theme in the legal realm.

Courts actively try not to make any definitive rulings on subject matters and issues. Instead, they prefer to make general statements about a legal case, and then clarify it by adding some sort of statement that their decision was almost entirely fact-based and future outcomes will change depending on the facts at hand.


Looking to the housekeeper situation, odds are this kind of testing will be allowed. Why?

Well, first off, the employment relationship there is likely to be much more one-on-one than the workplaces for which this principle applies. I’d be willing to bet that the housekeeper will just be one qualified person acting as his or her own representative.

The rationale behind the principle mentioned above is intended to apply mostly to larger, unionized workplaces where an employer issues workplace-wide testing with no justification for doing so.

Second, one of the balancing factors will always be the nature of the employment. As a housekeeper, the job may fall into what’s often referred to as ‘vulnerable sector employment.’ This is usually applied to jobs involving children and in-house work, where it’s considered perfectly acceptable to have some more stringent occupational requirements.

When dealing with children, or having a workplace at a location inhabited by children, an alcohol problem can absolutely become an occupation hazard, and I’d be willing to guess that alcohol testing would be considered reasonable in the circumstances.

In the end, it’s all about what Kate and William are looking for! If they’re looking for a sober housekeeper, and make the offer for employment conditional on this, then odds are it will be viewed as a legitimate request.

If they don’t, and some sort of issue arises, it’d be up to the chosen housekeeper to argue that such requests are not sufficiently related to his or her employment. That being said, it’d definitely be an uphill battle!

What can you take away from this? Well, whenever you get a job, always review your contract!! If there are any irregularities, or even something you’re confused about, reach out to your representatives (if you have any), your friends or family, an attorney, or even your employer!

You don’t want to sign up for something for which you’re not comfortable, and either way, it’s always best to be completely informed about something as important as your job!

Advertisements
Prince William and Duchess Kate’s Housekeeper: What would it take to be hired?

Blurred Verdict! The Outcome of the ‘Blurred Lines’ Copyright Case!

450167618

Oh so relevant!!!

Previously, I talked about what may have gone on behind the scenes in a recent Smith-Petty dispute, or lack thereof. As you’ll remember, the final outcome was mutually agreeable, and both parties walked away smiling.

The post was focused on the issues that can arise when parties go to court.

Here’s an opposite example!


Recently, Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke, and rapper TI have been involved in a brutal bout of copyright litigation. It was alleged that their 2013 song ‘Blurred Lines’ completely ripped off Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song ‘Got to Give It Up’. Gaye’s family alleged infringement, while those behind ‘Blurred Lines’ stated there was no harm done.

Well, verdict’s up! While TI and the label were freed from any liability, Williams and Thicke were just ordered to pay $7.3 million! The court, by jury, ruled that infringement had happened, and made them pay up! Supposedly, this is just about half of the profits earned from the song.


Going off my post regarding the Smith controversy, this was unwanted – by Williams and Thicke, I’m sure – for so many reasons!

First – reputation. While I’m sure Williams will be fine – he’s respected and has produced some great work – I don’t think the same can be said for Thicke. Unlike his father, Thicke only has one legitimate hit to his name. This essentially decimates all the credibility he may or may not have earned with his first #1 hit.

Moreover, during the trial, Thicke even went so far as to say that he was drunk and high on Vicodin while producing the song. His current media portrayals nothing less than sleazy (with cheating allegations, an impending divorce, and known drug abuse), and this certainly did not help.

Second – cost and precedent. While the $7.3 million award is likely not going to trump either Williams or Thicke, it’s certainly a big chunk of money.

Moreover, it produced liability for them in the future. Artists can insure themselves against lawsuits of this nature, and if either artist was insured, some or all of this amount may be covered. Still, in the future, if either artist wishes to obtain insurance in the future, their premiums will undoubtedly skyrocket.

Regarding precedent, this decision is likely to be seen as a landmark decision in the music industry! Precedent refers to the previous judicial decisions from the past that judges today have to follow. There’s always wiggle room, sure, but they cannot usually just disregard a decision made by an appellate court.

Take the following, quoted from the LA Times’ article on the issue:

“Industry veteran Irving Azoff, who manages the Eagles and is the chairman and chief executive of Azoff MSG Entertainment, said such disputes were normally resolved between music business insiders based on how many notes in a row were shared by two songs.

‘It’s never been based on a jury’s opinion,’ said Azoff, whose firm represents Williams on performance rights issues. ‘If we’re now entering into a gray area, that’s very scary.’”

What he’s saying, basically, is that the path taken in the Smith-Petty dispute is the typical route. Not only do parties avoid the cost and what not, but it also takes away the possibility that a decision can come straight out of left wing.


An interesting thing noted in the article was that the jury was made up mostly of those who appeared to be from Gaye’s generation than Thicke’s. Interesting point. This definitely ties in with the above noted grayness.

Basically, when you go to court, you never know what you’re going to get.

So why risk it? If there was to be one take away from this, it should be that going to court, in almost any matter, should be the last resort. If you can find a way to resolve the issue without doing so, odds are you will save money, time, and potentially reputation.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to all situations and arguments. It’s just a good starting point to think that you may be able to settle without going to court. It can definitely frame the negotiation that occurs (i.e. less antagonistic, more cooperative, and more focused on getting a positive result).

Blurred Verdict! The Outcome of the ‘Blurred Lines’ Copyright Case!

Chris Brown’s Baby News: Will His Past Violence Affect a Custody Claim?

457730648

I told you this was a ‘two-for-one’!

Child support aside, there’s definitely bound to be some problems in Chris Brown’s future if he ever decides to make a play for custody!

As you’ll recall from my post on the Dempsey divorce, one’s previous criminal records can absolutely play a role in any custody battle.


Sections 24(3) and 24(4) of the Children’s Law Reform Act deals with former incidents of violence and abuse.

They read as follows:

Past Conduct

24. (3) A person’s past conduct shall be considered only:

(a) in accordance with subsection (4); or

(b) if the court is satisfied that the conduct is otherwise relevant to the person’s ability                            to act as a parent. 2006, c. 1, s. 3 (1).

Violence and abuse

24. (4) In assessing a person’s ability to act as a parent, the court shall consider whether the person has at any time committed violence or abuse against,

(a) his or her spouse;

(b) a parent of the child to whom the application relates;

(c) a member of the person’s household; or

(d) any child. 2006, c. 1, s. 3 (1).


Though he’s had a considerable list of assault charges, the incident that most will recall is that of his felony conviction for assaulting Rihanna, his then girlfriend.

Looking to the above sections, though former girlfriends are not included under s. 24(4), abuse of a former partner will absolutely be examined by the court under s. 24(3)(b).

So, given that the court will undoubtedly take his assault charges into consideration, what effect are they likely to have?


In Lemieux v Mercer, the parties had two children. The mother had learned during the course of the relationship that the father had been charged with assault against his former common-law partner. Moreover, she cited incidents of increasingly abusive behvariour from the Father. It was pretty obvious that he had anger issues.

When both parties went to court to deal with their children, mom wanted sole custody, while dad wanted joint.

Ultimately, the court awarded mom sole custody of the children. They believed that, given the father’s past, the potential for conflict, and the stability required by the children, this was best in the circumstances.

What did dad get? Well, basically he received the opportunity to prove himself.

Mom was ordered to keep dad informed of all aspects of the children’s education and daycare, and to provide the names of their teachers, doctors, and other health professionals. Moreover, dad was entitled to attend parent/teacher meetings and activities in which the children would participate.

The court determined that access could be better examined at a later date. Essentially, they gave dad a trial run.


What does this mean for Chris Brown? Well, if he were in Ontario, I feel it is fairly uncontroversial to say that he too would have to prove himself. He has shown himself, in easily documented ways, to live a lifestyle not conducive to children, to have a high temper, and to engage in criminal activity.

All of these factors would undoubtedly sway a judge to grant mom with sole custody. In my eyes, the only way joint custody would be issued would be if mom went to court and agreed to it.

In the event that both parties consent to such a thing, it’s hands off for the court.

With that in mind, I’m going to assume that the strategy employed by team Brown will revolve around keeping mom and baby happy enough to avoid court. Why? Well, while the previous blog post talked about how he would likely receive a child support payment he could easily manage, any custody battle will undoubtedly not work out for him.

That is, unless he wants mom to have sole custody.

Chris Brown’s Baby News: Will His Past Violence Affect a Custody Claim?

Look at Him Now! Chris Brown Welcomes First Child! How Much Child Support Should He Pay?

465177848

It’s recently come to light that Chris Brown has a child!

Aside from the confusion that arose given the timing (it appears as though he was with upwards of three different people at the time of conception), this bombshell brings us to a bit of a ‘two-for-one’ in family law litigation.

It’s the perfect scenario to examine not only the effect his prior criminal record can have on his custody arrangement, but also what kind of child support he may be liable.

This post will focus on his child support.


Throughout Canada, a person who must pay child support is typically bound to the Child Support Guidelines. These are a set of tables that basically determine exactly what you must pay your former partner each month, taking into account your annual income and the number of children you share.

In most cases, you look to the Guidelines, find where you fit, and that’s it! Case closed.

If Chris Brown’s child lived in Ontario, however, there’d be one problem: the Guidelines only account for incomes up to $150,000.

I’d say it’s pretty likely that he makes more than this. So, what do the courts do?

Well, section 4 of the Family Law Act states that, for an income earner of over $150,000, you are somewhat at the discretion of the judge!


In R v R, dad made approximately $4.1 million per year. Looking at this income, the trial judge decided to order him to pay approximately $25, 000 per month. The judge looked to the families’ accustomed lifestyle and spending manner, and determined this was appropriate.

Though seemingly an insane amount to most people, mom still felt that this amount was unfair and below what was just, and appealed this decision!

Surprisingly, the Ontario Court of Appeal agreed with mom! The initial order of $25,000 per month was raised to a whopping $36,000.

Now, again, this may seem insane on first glance.

Arguably, however, it was not quote so whopping when one considers that their lifestyle – which included trips, cars, expensive memberships, etc. – demanded such an order (so to speak).

Though I question that anyone could really ‘need’ this amount, the policy justification behind this, in my humble opinion, is quite just! The judge determined that this amount would enable the children to enjoy the same standard of living they had prior to the breakdown of the relationship. Wherever possible – and these parties were fortunate enough to have this be a reality – child support payments should be high enough to make sure that the children do not suffer from the economic problems that can be associated with multi-parent homes.


So, what about Brown?

Well, there are two factors particular to his case that distinguish it from R v R. The first is that Chris Brown undoubtedly makes more than $4.1 million a year. The second is that his former partner – though accustomed to a lavish lifestyle, I’m sure – has not lived a life with such immense wealth.

Basically, as they were never married, her standard of living is almost invariably different (read: less expensive). With this in mind, I’d guess that the child support ordered would not likely be greater than that what was shown in R v R. You cannot deliberately upgrade your standard of living to increase a child support payment, so odds are Brown’s immense wealth would probably be balanced against his former partner’s standard of living.

Either way, as reports indicate that the two are, as of now, getting along just fine, I’m sure that there will be no financial concerns for little Royalty.

Look at Him Now! Chris Brown Welcomes First Child! How Much Child Support Should He Pay?

Lessons in (non) Pettiness: Sam Smith and Tom Petty Settle Copyright Dispute!

Though this isn’t really a ‘legal analysis’ type post, I thought it’d be a good thing to cover the story nonetheless.

Recently, allegations arose that Sam Smith, the Grammy’s official darling of 2015, had plagiarized what’s arguably his most famous piece of work: ‘Stay With Me’.

Listen to it here:

Now, supposedly, the song has stolen chords and tempos from Tom Petty’s ‘I Won’t Back Down’.

Listen to Petty’s song here:

I mean, I guess I hear the similarity, but that’s not really the point of this post. The official story that’s come out is that the copyright dispute has been settled. That’s right – settled before it even began.

What’s the outcome? Well, now Petty and his co-writer from ‘I Won’t Back Down’ have been added as official songwriters for ‘Stay With Me’. With that comes about 12.5 percent in royalties. For a song that was recently named ‘Record of the Year,’ 12.5 percent in royalties is easily in the millions.

Why did it settle so quickly? Well, obviously we’ll never know for sure, but Smith claimed it was all a simple mistake, and that no harm was intended. Supposedly, it was a measure of good will.


I don’t know how likely that is. In fact, I think this gives the perfect example of what it means to practice law in today’s legal environment.

Odds are that this was resolved through mediation – a process where all parties come together in the hopes of settling the issue without going to court.

This is the norm, nowadays. For every case that goes to court, there’s (at least) ten that didn’t.

Why avoid court? Well, looking to this issue, there’s three reasons why the parties – especially Sam Smith – would want to avoid a court battle.

  • Public Image. Sam Smith is taken pretty seriously as a musician, and a copyright battle could easily affect his credibility.
  • Cost and Time. Court costs tons, and takes ages. All involved parties have the funds to go forward with such a thing, absolutely, but odds are they had better things to do.
  • Mutually Beneficial. Smith avoided an image-harming lawsuit. Petty remains relevant, having contributed to what’s supposedly one of the best songs in recent history. He’s also making what many would argue is much more than what he deserves for the arguably minimal ‘contribution’ he made to ‘Stay With Me’.

So, while this isn’t a ‘throw money at it’ kind of situation, it definitely dealt with the issue in a quick manner, and all involved parties seem appeased.


Is this better than court? By most measures…yes! The reality is that most people with legal issues do not have the same means as Smith and Petty. If they can pursue a different course of action that has the potential to substantially reduce money spent on pursuing the action, while at the same time going for what they feel they deserve, why not?

Many believe, and certain areas of law have it already, that mediation should be a requirement before court! The idea is that you get together, try to work it out yourselves, and if, and only if, that fails, then you come to court.

Personally, I’m a big supporter, and applaud both Smith and Petty for pursuing the path of least resistance.

Time will tell if Smith faces similar issues. My guess is that this really was just a bit of a fluke/mistaken grab.

Lessons in (non) Pettiness: Sam Smith and Tom Petty Settle Copyright Dispute!

The Curious Case of Bobbi Kristina! Will What the Neighbour Heard be Allowed in Trial?

bobbi

For the past few weeks, Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, has been in a coma for unknown reasons. While a criminal investigation remains ongoing, no details have been released.

As will often happen, interested parties are looking to who she was dating for answers. Unfortunately, more often than not, the partner appears to know something that can help make sense of such a mysterious situation.

Now, recently, it’s come forward that a neighbour overheard Bobbi Kristina and her boyfriend, Nick Gordon, get into a very big argument.

Obviously, with a girlfriend in an unexplained coma, hearing this news made me extremely suspicious about Nick Gordon. That being said, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, so I’ll reserve judgment.

That being said, the neighbour’s statements and recanting of the supposed fight got me thinking. Would he be allowed to testify about what he saw/heard? Or, would what he heard be considered hearsay?


Our starting point should first be to establish what hearsay is, as it’s definitely one of those ‘heard on TV’ words that’s never really defined by the media.

Basically, a hearsay statement is an out of court statement offered in front of (usually) a jury. It becomes hearsay where it is offered for the truth of its contents. Basically, where a witness testifies that another person said something, the witness’s evidence (i.e. recalling what was said), is hearsay if someone is asking the jury to accept the statement as fact.

As an example, if someone says they heard they’re friend admit to killing a person, and a lawyer wants to use this as evidence that the friend actually committed murder, the statement is hearsay.

The starting point for hearsay statements is that they are not allowed. That being said, as with basically anywhere in the law, there are exceptions!


In R v Clark, the defendant was accused of killing her ex-husband’s new wife. She claimed self-defence, and alleged that the deceased came at her with a knife.

At the trial, an interesting piece of evidence came up: the neighbour heard a statement made by the murdered new wife right before her death. Apparently, the new wife ran out of the house, knife in back, and yelled: “Help! Help! I’ve been murdered! I’ve been stabbed!”

Aside from the bonus points for clarity, this statement was super important for the criminal lawyer trying to get the defendant charged with murder. Basically, if accepted as evidence, it’s a statement made by the dead new wife stating exactly what happened; she was murdered, not thwarted in her attempt to kill the old wife (which was what the accused defendant had claimed).

Now, while the starting point was to say that the neighbour’s statement was hearsay, the court looked into what’s known as the ‘res gestae’ exception, to see if the neighbour’s evidence could be allowed.

Basically referring to statements made during the illegal act, the exception allows hearsay statements to be admitted where they were heard during the course of events. Basically, they really help paint a picture of what happened, and the court looks favourably on them.

With this in mind, the court ultimately decided to allow the neighbour’s evidence! They held that, while the statement should be excluded under the general concept of hearsay, the circumstances force them to accept it as truth.

Apparently, given the circumstances, the chances of the new wife making up a lie was so unlikely, that they could rationally accept them as truth. Supposedly, when you’re about to die, why wouldn’t you lie?


Side note: there’s some controversy in this holding.

Critics of the decision say that this ‘people won’t lie before they die’ idea is based on some religious ideal where, looking to avoid damnation, a person’s dying breath will not likely be a lie.

Interesting argument.


Back to the facts at hand, whether the neighbour’s statement re: Bobby Kristina would admissible depends. On one hand, the timing of the statement is a completely relevant factor. As shown in the article, it was overheard a few weeks before poor Bobbi Kristina went into a coma. On the other hand, it offers some insight into the relationship that she was in at the time the mysterious events unfolded.

With this in mind, the statements could be admitted only for a limited purpose. If they’re trying to enter the statements as proof that Bobbi Kristina was abused by her partner, they’re not likely to be admitted. The fact that it was stated long before the incident means it does not work with this exception.

That being said, if the statements are going to be included as evidence that the relationship was troubled, in some capacity, then they will likely be okay. Such a point doesn’t necessarily lead to an inference that the partner did it. Still, it offers tactical advantage if the partner is who the investigators are looking to hold responsible.

Should the statement be put forward for this more proper purpose, it could still be considered damning if it leads to an ‘unjust inference’ that he did it.

Basically, if it could cause the jury to make a huge jump (i.e. in hearing this, they think he’s guilty), it may be excluded.

The problem, however, is that it’s up to the judge in the moment to make that decision. So, while the statements are not likely to be allowed under a specific hearsay exception, they may be brought in for other, more implicit (read: tactical) purposes.

The Curious Case of Bobbi Kristina! Will What the Neighbour Heard be Allowed in Trial?

The Surreal Life of Gary Busey: Will His Brain Injury Affect His Car Accident Proceedings?

Busey

I guess one’s knowledge of Gary Busey depends largely on the generation from which you come. As a 90’s kid, I know Busey mainly from his time spent on reality TV (think: The Surreal Life).

For some of the older folks, he’s better known for his roles in Lethal Weapon, or The Buddy Holly Story, a role for which he received a Best Actor nomination from the Academy Awards.

In 1988, Busey was involved in a very unfortunate car accident. The resulting effect of the accident was a serious brain injury. Having a sister who works with those living with brain injuries, let me tell you that these injuries can be completely traumatic. It can affect your behaviour, ability to function, and even your personality.

Many speculate that the brain injury he sustained is the result of most of his conduct as of late.

Now, having established his past, let’s look to the present.


Recently, Busey was involved in a car accident where he actually injured a woman. Pulling out of a parking garage, he supposedly didn’t see her as he was backing up his car. She sustained minor injuries.

While it remains unknown whether there will be criminal proceedings, he may face tort action from the injured woman. A tort action is the kind brought forth by many of the personal injury lawyers you see on the billboards and busses throughout the city. Basically, if you’re injured as a result of someone’s negligent actions, you may have a case for a tort action.

Now, given that Busey has a brain injury, the car accident got me thinking about what kind of liability he may have. Does the brain injury exempt or limit his negligence (i.e. could a ‘he didn’t know any better’ argument be made)?

In Roberts v Ramsbottom, where a driver of a stroke suffered a stroke on their way out of the house, the court had to deal with a unique problem. While the driver wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, he knew something was up. Yet, he still drove.

The court ultimately held that he was negligent and liable for damages because, although not aware that he had had a stroke, he fully admitted he knew he was not at his best. The basic takeaway from the case was that one’s impairment of judgment is not a defence; they must suffer a total loss of consciousness to be released from liability.

BUT, there’s a very important exception that was added by the court in Mansfield v Weetabix.

In Mansfield, an employee caused a series of accidents while driving a workplace vehicle. It was determined after the fact that he had some sort of rare brain malfunction that caused him to act erratically and, well, insane, when he had low blood sugar. He had no memory of committing the accidents, or the aftermath.

Despite the court’s decision in Roberts that if you know you may be a little off, you should be held liable for your actions afterwards, the court decided to add an exception: if you have a temporary lack of prudence due to factors beyond one’s control, the person may not be liabile.

Basically, if you have a temporary incapacity for something outside your control (i.e. you didn’t cause it or know about it), you may not be liable. Obviously, if you did something where you should have known better, or knowingly put yourself in a precarious position despite better judgement (think: driving while blackout drunk), you’re still going to be in trouble.


So, with that in mind, Busey will not likely be able to escape liability with an incapacity argument resulting from his brain injury. Obviously, his brain injury has not resulted in an incapacitation; the fact that he has a driver’s license is proof of this fact.

He doesn’t appear to have a case for temporary incapacity, either. If he is to cite his brain injury as a contributing factor, well, he’s known about this since it occurred in 1988. There’s no such thing as a temporary and unknown incapacity if it’s the by-product of an over 20-year old affliction.

Moreover, if he tries to do this, he may be held negligent to an even higher degree, as he would be admitting to have knowingly driven in a lessened state, and therefore admit to knowingly putting others in danger.

So, while the brain injury might be a factor in any tort action brought against the actor, it’s unlikely to help during the proceedings. In fact, it might only work to hurt his case.

The Surreal Life of Gary Busey: Will His Brain Injury Affect His Car Accident Proceedings?