The legal industry moves quickly, especially in Ontario. Here are some of the top issues to keep in mind as the legal field heads into 2020.
Equitable doctrine, trust reporting requirements change the face of estate law.
An Ontario court is reconsidering the doctrine of unconscionable procurement in an estate case for the first time in over a century. The doctrine allows the court to set aside gifts and other transfers made during a testator’s lifetime if the testator did not understand what they were doing at the time.
Wills, trusts, and estates lawyers are also preparing for the implementation of new trust reporting and disclosure rules, scheduled for 2021. Trusts will be required to provide additional information in their tax filings. Trusts that may have had no reporting requirements previously due to having no income will now be required to file a trust income tax and information return.
A court decision unpacking common insurance contract wording could affect hundreds of cases.
Another recent Ontario ruling found that an insurer should pay the professional fees of a church’s surveyor as the church rebuilt from a fire. The case sought to clarify an unsettled question in the interpretation of insurance contracts: Who is “required” to pay professional fees, and why?
The resulting opinion is likely to have a far-reaching effect since it addresses a fairly standard use of wording in insurance contracts.
Digital transformation continues to shape new laws.
Digital tools continue to transform the way humans do business, share personal information, and conduct their lives. As a result, digital tools and systems continue to shape the ways law is created and interpreted as well. Issues like digital identity verification and cybersecurity will continue to rise for Ontario’s lawyers.
Digital tools will continue to change the legal business as well. Be prepared for the rise of tools based on artificial intelligence (AI), used to better organize information and provide analytical insights.
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