Strauss-Kahn civil case will need more than accusations

(Reuters) – While civil suits have wider latitude of what may be introduced in court, a judge in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn civil case will want hard evidence rather than mere accusations from other women that he sexually assaulted them, analysts say.

In a lawsuit filed this week, Nafissatou Diallo accused Strauss Kahn, 62, of waging a “violent and sadistic” attack on her in a suite at the Sofitel hotel in Manhattan on May 14.

Strauss-Kahn has also been charged with sexual assault in criminal court and prosecutors are debating whether to move forward with that case despite concerns about Diallo’s credibility.

Read more at Reuters

Wine for “mommy” sets off trademark fight

(Reuters Legal) – Rival wine sellers targeting overworked mothers are fighting over use of the word “Mommy” on their wine labels, according to a lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court.

In the suit, filed on Monday, California-based winery Clos Lachance Wines asked the court to declare that its “Mommyjuice” does not violate the trademark of “Mommy’s Time Out,” which is marketed by a New Jersey distributor.

Read more at Reuters

Resolution Revolutionary

As court cases go, this was hardly a run-of-the-mill contract quarrel. The parties were major airline companies from France and Libya. Their contract stated that any dispute was to be resolved by arbitration in Montreal. Oh, and the French company was arguing the contract did not apply in light of UN sanctions placed on Libya after the 1998 terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

For newly minted lawyer Frédéric Bachand, the 1999 case was not only a baptism by fire in the world of international commercial arbitration, it was also an opportunity to participate first-hand in an emerging field of law—one in which he has since become a world authority.

Read more in Headway Magazine

Time to Streamline the Societies?

How much is independence worth? Canadian lawyers may be asking this question as they prepare to pay their annual law society dues. If the rest of the world is any indication, the self-governing model that underlies Canada’s legal profession may soon face a day of reckoning.

And contrary to conventional opinion, that may not be a bad thing.

Our tradition of self-governance has remained largely unchallenged for more than two centuries.

Read more in Canadian Lawyer magazine

Are you Ready for Avatar Rights?

The world has seen its share of rights movements in recent years. That may not prepare it for the claims of the latest group seeking recognition – digital people.

As online computer games soar in popularity, the distinction between animated characters and their real life creators is eroding. This has given rise to perplexing new questions about the extent to which we have rights in our digital identities.

The popularity of avatars has much to do with the emergence of the online self. Avatars are the custom-designed figures created by computer users to play video games or to participate in a variety of online worlds. Recently, some nasty events have befallen these avatars, bringing moral or financial injury to their creators. Consider one famous example.

Read more in the Toronto Star

War Crime Stopper

Payam Akhavan sips coffee amidst student chatter in a downtown Montreal cafe. Gentle eyes and salt-and-pepper hair complement the gracious voice that has persuaded everyone from first-year law students to the United Nations about his very big ideas on conflict resolution and genocide.

Since his seminal article “Beyond Impunity: Can International Criminal Justice Prevent Future Atrocities?” was published in the American Journal of International Law in 2001, Akhavan has been regarded as one of the most influential human rights thinkers.

See more at: Headway Magazine

FREAKONOMICS 2.0: Fighting knowledge monopolies, or how to avoid being ripped off

`Information imbalances’ cost North Americans billions of dollars a year. One intrepid economist wants to change that.

Henry Schneider, an economist at Cornell University, believes that auto mechanics are no more dishonest than the rest of us. His opinion is something of a surprise in light of his research.

In a new paper, Schneider describes data from undercover visits to Canadian garages, which show that 61 per cent of the total sum spent on car repairs was completely unnecessary. Repeating the undercover experiment in the United States, he found the same thing: an industry characterized by systemic rip-offs where concern for reputation had little effect on service.

Read more in the Toronto Star