Back in Vancouver to soft rain, as compared to the heavy, torrential rains of Southern California. The e-mail box is full. Here from one of them is an edited version of an e-publication I found interesting—I have edited to focus on mining-related issues. The publication is from a law firm, Borden Ladner Gervais, and they call their “publication” BLG’s Top 10 Business Issues With Legal Implications 2011.
The Big Bang – collision of public companies and Social Media – has happened. Now what? This year, we can expect to witness the continued explosive proliferation of social media use in Canada, and certainly, the investor relations world is not isolated from it. That creates challenges for organizations that don’t want to run afoul of proper disclosure regulations. Several months before Twitter was even created, Bill 198 was passed in Canada giving investors a statutory right to act against public companies, for material misrepresentations made in public disclosure and for failure to disclose material changes in a timely manner. In a post-Twitter world, in which many companies actually use the 140-character tweets as a formal communication channel, managing public disclosure is exponentially more complex. The nature of social media is mostly quick, interactive and short, and it sometimes provides material out of context, creating a potential for reflexive, off-the-cuff responses. That’s a perfect recipe for a disclosure disaster.
There’s gold in them hills, and people too. How much do you talk before you dig? There’s no doubt about it: mining is a necessity. Where it all gets tricky is balancing the rights of those who live in communities affected by extraction activities and those who own the rights to do the extracting. Community activists have become much more effective at challenging big projects with big environmental impacts. They have had success winning injunctions and stop work orders. They have also had success winning support on Parliament Hill, barely missing with a Private Members Bill in 2010 that would have placed new conditions on mining companies. Community consultation processes are now essential for companies that hope to win local support – and prevent strong opposition – for their projects.
From America with love – the rise of the class action lawsuit. Once thought to be largely a product of the U.S., the class action lawsuit continues to gain in popularity in Canada. The key issues to watch in the year ahead are the potential exposure of corporations to what are called waiver of tort claims and exposures to international or national Canadian class actions. At the same time, plaintiff’s counsel are attempting to bring class actions on behalf of international classes or national Canadian classes. U.S. counsel and clients are often surprised by the breadth of cases certified as class actions in Canada. In 2011, it is important to follow the development of these Canadian class actions with multi-jurisdictional scope.
The year of uncertainty, if you’re trying to raise capital. The global debt crisis (including sovereign and consumer debt), currency uncertainty, the inflated bond market, the state of the U.S. housing market, and the continuing inflation vs. deflation debate, capital markets are understandably weary. Consequently, this year promises to be a challenging one for issuers, investors and their advisors. The current state of the capital markets has created new obstacles for issuers seeking to raise money in the capital markets, but deals are getting done.
Arbitration and Mediation on the Rise: More business disputes being resolved out of court. Canada has long been a leader in the use of mediation and other forms of assisted negotiation to resolve disputes. Late in 2010, Ontario became the second province, with Nova Scotia, to adopt mediation regulations that enable parties settling a commercial dispute through mediation to register their settlement agreement with the court, thus having the settlement treated like a judgment for enforcement purposes.
Economic growth will push energy demands, inside and outside of Canada. With Canada’s abundance of hydro power, oil and gas and nuclear, there is never a shortage of energy-related transactions and conflicts, domestically and internationally. We expect that will only increase as the domestic and global economies continue to rebound in 2011, driving greater energy demand.
About Borden Ladner Gervais LLP: With more than 750 lawyers, intellectual property agents, and other professionals working in six major Canadian cities, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP is the largest Canadian full-service law firm focusing on business law, litigation and intellectual property solutions. BLG provides bilingual services in virtually every area of law, and represents a wide range of regional, national and multinational organizations. For further information, visit blg.com
PS. I do not know the firm; have never worked for them; and have had no request from them to post this. I obviously received their e-mail–unsolicited. I post this because it interests me and I hope it interests you.