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Calgary Real Estate, Wills and Estates, and Business Law Blog

Harmful product allegations could lead to civil litigation

The Canada Consumer Product Safety Act protects consumers against harm caused by dangerous products. When a member of the public in Alberta or another province is injured or becomes ill as the result of a malfunctioning or dangerous product, grounds may exist to pursue a claim for damage recovery. This might lead to civil litigation, with the manufacturer of the product and/or others in the consumer supply chain named as defendants.

Health Canada administers the CCPSA, and the law authorizes Health Canada to issue fines for consumer products that pose a danger to human health or safety when used for regular and foreseeable purposes. This includes any product that causes an injury or death, or could harm the health of the person exposed to it. Furthermore, fines might also be issued if a chronic ailment is attributed to the use of a hazardous product, regardless of the lapse of time between the exposure and the adverse effect.

Why is a power of attorney necessary along with wills and estates

Many people in Alberta do not realize the importance of estate planning, and those who do might not realize that estate plans do not only serve a purpose after the death of the testator. While wills and estates might record the testator's wishes for distributing assets after death, there are ways to protect his or her interests in the event of incapacitation. Establishing powers of attorney can protect a person who becomes unable to handle financial and medical matters.

Despite the name, the person granted a power of attorney need not be a lawyer. The individual granting the power can appoint any trustworthy person to fill this position, and he or she can even name a substitute guardian to take over if the designated power of attorney can no longer play that role. In most cases, it is wise to appoint two powers of attorney -- one to handle financial matters, and one to make medical decisions on the maker's behalf.

What are the elements of a business and commercial law contract?

Consumers in Alberta and across Canada typically enter into several contracts each day without even realizing it. Buying property and obtaining a mortgage is a contract entered into with the bank; starting a new job involves the signing of an employment contract, and purchasing items is also a contract. When either party violates the terms or conditions of a contract, the best person to contact would likely be a lawyer with experience in business and commercial law. Regardless of the type of contract signed, it needs to contain six essential elements to make it legally binding.

The first two elements are the existence of an offer made by one party and acceptance of the offer by a second party. The party accepting the offer can do so in actions or words. When entering into a contract, one party benefits by means of interest, a right or profit, called a consideration, while the other party experiences loss, forbearance or detriment. Consideration is, for instance, what happens when one party agrees to pay for an object or service provided by the other party.

Business law targets unsolicited communications

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission monitors the marketing methods of businesses in Alberta. One of the many business laws with which business owners must comply deals with unsolicited communications. The regulations aim to protect the interests of the Canadian public by regulating and supervising telecommunications and broadcasting activities.

One of the laws to protect consumers provides them with a choice to register on the National Do Not Call List (DNCL), opting out of receiving calls by telemarketers. In turn, business owners must subscribe and register with National DNCL before embarking on a telemarketing project. Furthermore, companies must establish and maintain an internal list of consumers who opted out of being targeted by telemarketers.

Dealing with wills and estates in a digital world

Technological development has changed how most people in Alberta and across Canada navigate their daily lives, including their finances. Goods are ordered and paid for online and dealing with bills, bank accounts and more are done on smartphones, laptops and PCs. This has also brought about changes in the way wills and estates are handled.

An essential part of estate planning is finding a way to allow trustees and executors access to the testator's computer, phone, different websites and online accounts to manage financial affairs, not only after the person's death but also in the event of an incident that causes incapacity. Most people keep their various passwords secret, and if they do not list them as a part of their wills, it will make life difficult for those left behind to deal with financial matters. Another matter with which to deal is the hard drive of the computer that likely contains a lot of sensitive and personal information, and including orders for beneficiaries, trustees and executors on what to do with the hard drive after a death must form part of estate documents.

Various laws protect workers against discrimination and more

Workers in Alberta are protected under various laws, such as the Human Rights Act, Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Employment Standards Code. While most employees know about laws that protect them from discrimination, they may be unaware of other rights they have as workers. For example, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, workers have the right to refuse work orders that threaten their safety. With some exceptions, employers must pay workers who reported for duty for at least three hours, even if they were sent home without working for three hours. Those who work for more than three hours must receive compensation for the hours they worked.

Anyone whose work hours exceed eight hours per day or 44 hours per week is entitled to overtime pay. Furthermore, employers may not deduct money for damages from a worker's wages; however, money from tips can be used to pay for broken glasses or other damages. As soon as a person is employed, vacation time begins to accumulate. After 12 months with the same employer, workers are entitled to paid vacation time. 

Commercial law: Terms and conditions can benefit all

When consumers are faced with long lists of terms and conditions, many tend to agree without bothering to read it. Though commercial laws serve to protect both consumers and businesses in Alberta, and across Canada, not all business owners comply with established standards. Terms and conditions can serve to contain important details about the company and its protocols, while also serving the interests of the consumers.

However, when terms and conditions are used to bury or hide details that could affect the cost of the service or to obscure the real marketing intentions of a business, costly and time-consuming litigation may result. Business owners should see terms and conditions as the foundation of the business relationships they want with their customers. Customers should be able to quickly find the parts that detail their rights and the company's responsibilities, such as protecting the personal information of clients.

What to include when writing an offer to purchase real estate

Purchasing a home is typically an exciting endeavour for anyone. However, people in Alberta should not let the excitement cause them to lose sight of the importance of a well-written purchase offer for real estate. Such a proposal must contain the value of the offer along with the amount available for a deposit. The next step would be to list the terms and conditions of the purchase offer.

Terms are details to which buyers and sellers agree, and they are usually negotiable. Terms include the date on which the new owner will take possession of the real estate along with exclusions and inclusions. Unattached items such as furniture and curtains are typically excluded from the purchase, but goods that cannot be removed without damaging the property are usually included. An example of an attached item is a security system. The terms could include a prepossession inspection to verify that no damage occurred since the date of the offer.

Every business is vulnerable when it comes to fraud

With the holidays approaching, along with the increased commercial pace, fraud will likely be rampant. Business fraud is something that costs businesses in Alberta and across Canada millions of dollars each year. Fending off business fraud requires vigilance and plans that involve owners and staff members. Fraudsters are enterprising, and they will always come up with new, more innovative strategies to get past that first line of defence to gain access to emails, social media and more.

Safety advisers say an effective safety plan against fraud requires awareness of the latest scams that fraudsters use to target businesses. Frequent updating of anti-fraud policies is crucial, and so is sharing with employees any new information about the ever-changing tactics of fraudsters and scammers. Investing in network security systems is a good start, along with strong security practices that include training employees on how to recognize fraud and scams and the importance of reporting any suspicious behaviour.

Survey finds high prevalence of workplace discrimination

A consulting company conducted an online poll from April 10 through May 1 among over 5,000 employees of large companies with employee numbers exceeding 1,000. The aim was to judge the level of discrimination in workplaces across Canada, including Alberta. The survey focused on inclusion and diversity in recruitment, advancement, retention and commitment of leadership in the surveyed companies.

Although the results reportedly compared favourably with other countries, a spokesperson for the consulting company asserts that workplace discrimination remains an obstacle. Analysis of the responses indicates that about one-third of workers who identify with diversity groups had encountered discriminatory incidents. These groups include women, people of colour and those who identify as LGBTQ. The percentage went up to 40% and beyond for respondents with disabilities and those with indigenous backgrounds.

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