Law Society of Saskatchewan v Abrametz

The Supreme Court of Canada heard the appeal in Law Society of Saskatchewan v Abrametz on Monday, from this decision of the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan: 2020 SKCA 81. I was co-counsel for the appellant law society. You can watch the proceedings here.

The hearing was virtual. We suffered a technical glitch when, about 15 minutes into our submissions, the Zoom application crashed on the computer we were using. Never in the pandemic have I witnessed this particular error — I have accidentally logged out of meetings, or logged people out of meetings; mislaid passwords or links; and suffered dropped Internet connections, but Zoom simply giving up the ghost was a new one, and quite a surprise after our set-up survived the rigorous tests the Supreme Court’s staff ran us through. Luckily, my co-counsel Alyssa Tomkins was able to continue from my laptop (although I then was listening on the live feed, with a one-minute lag, so I heard her answers before I heard the judges’ questions, which was an interesting experience). Equally luckily, the judges were very patient as we sorted out the technical difficulties as best we could.

As usual, the judges were well prepared and peppered us with pertinent questions. We had the benefit of a practice session with the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute the week beforehand, which was hugely helpful — anyone appearing before the Supreme Court should certainly take advantage of the Institute’s offer to hold a practice session.

Preparing written and oral submissions in pandemic conditions was hardly optimal, but the online world carries some advantages. Organizing practice sessions is much easier, for example, as is collaboration with counsel for other parties or interveners. Perhaps most importantly, interveners at the Supreme Court can make oral submissions without having to travel across the country, an option which ought to be made available going forward.

Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court reserved judgment. I imagine the decision will be released some time in 2022.

This content has been updated on November 11, 2021 at 15:45.