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January 12, 2011

Fillmore Riley's Anita Southall and Wayne Leslie recipients of Manitoba Bar Association's 2011 Pro Bono Award

In the recent edition of Headnotes & Footnotes*, the Manitoba Bar Association (MBA) announced that Ms Anita Southall and Mr. Wayne Leslie of Fillmore Riley LLP will receive the 2011 Pro Bono Award for their service as friends of the court in Daniels v. Daniels and Fontaine v. The Attorney General of Canada.

At issue, for the first time in Manitoba and perhaps Canada, was whether monies payable to a person under a court ordered Residential School Settlement might be accessed by the Enforcement Branch for the purposes of paying arrears in child support.

Given the complexity of the issues, Mr. Leslie and Ms Southall (the Fillmore Team) were appointed as friends of the court in order to ensure that all perspectives were fairly canvassed.

In its decision, the Court of Queen's Bench held there was no jurisdiction to garnish Residential School Settlement payments when they were still in the hands of the recipient. However, the Court determined that it had jurisdiction to appoint a receiver over the assets of the debtor and to control the assets to enforce payments due to the creditor spouse and children. The matter is now before the Court of Appeal.

The Court's determinations in this proceeding were greatly assisted by the contribution of the Fillmore Team, which in the Court's view, “put the whole case into proper perspective.”

In the Court's view, the Fillmore Team:
• assisted the Court in determining that a receiver over the assets of the debtor could be appointed;
• explained why the prior existing order could not be seen as a receiving order;
• provided the court with the benefit of senior counsel's expertise in receivership law; and
• explained why no claim could succeed in relation to the contribution by the churches.

Underlying the concept of the Public Interest pro bono program is the belief that for justice to be done it is important that all sides be given a meaningful voice. Ms Southall and Mr. Leslie made a valuable contribution on this important and challenging issue of law.

The assistance they provided to the court is consistent with the highest standards of our profession. The award will be presented at the MBA Mid-Winter Awards luncheon on Friday, January 21, 2011, at the Fairmont Winnipeg.

*Reprint with permission from the Manitoba Bar Association. This article first appeared in the Manitoba Bar Association January 2011 edition of Headnotes & Footnotes.