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

How effective are non-solicitation clauses?

Employees in Alberta with exceptional skills are often the subjects of poaching. However, would such a worker be allowed to accept an irresistible offer from his or her employer's opposition? Many business owners identify high-value employees with specialized skills and have them sign non-solicitation clauses to prevent losing valuable clients to an opposing company in the same market.

The need for ever-better technological skills makes staff poaching a popular method of obtaining expertise without having to lay out finances for training and skills development. However, there is a difference between poaching and solicitation. While both are becoming par for the course in almost all employee contracts, it is the non-solicitation clauses that stand up better in court. These are agreements that prohibit employees from soliciting clients after leaving one firm and taking on a job at an opposition company.

What to do when you suspect wrongful termination

Anyone in Alberta who has been fired from a job will likely question the legality of the employer's actions. According to the Employment Standards Act, an employer should give a worker fair warning before termination of employment. For example, an employee who worked at a company for 10 years deserves 10 months' notice of an employer's intention to fire him or her. Otherwise, the fired worker must get 10 months' wages paid out -- not necessarily in one lump sum.

A fired worker might suspect that his or her employment was terminated because of a disability. Other questionable situations include termination while the worker is on pregnancy or parental leave or during an absence caused by a medical condition. An employer cannot use such circumstances as the reason for dismissal; however, if there was some type of misconduct on the worker's part during the time of absence, it might be enough motivation to warrant termination of employment.

Purchasing residential real estate needs careful planning

Anyone in Alberta who plans to purchase a home will need to consider various issues before signing a sales agreement. This is true regardless of whether it involves residential real estate or commercial property. Potential buyers need to plan ahead and focus on some essential steps.

The first matter to consider is how much the purchaser of residential real estate can afford, and devise a plan to save for a downpayment along with running costs for maintenance, taxes, heating and insurance. It is crucial to keep up with payment of debts and bills during this time because a good credit score will benefit a mortgage application. Some buyers choose to get a preapproved mortgage by applying for a loan even before they look for a suitable home.

Why would you include a trust in your estate planning?

Many people in Alberta might avoid thoughts about their mortality. However, the sooner they realize that death is not negotiable and debilitating injuries or illnesses can happen at any time, the better they could plan for such occurrences. Essential estate planning can be done as soon as a person starts to earn an income and acquire assets, and it can then be modified along with the twists and turns of life.

Estate planning typically involves the drafting of a will, but the benefits of establishing a trust should not be overlooked. While a person can use a will to make sure each beneficiary receives what is intended for him or her, transferring the assets to the heirs might be simpler if it is done by way of a trust. A significant advantage is the fact that the testator can transfer assets into a trust while he or she is still alive, while a will only becomes effective after his or her death.

Critical factors to consider before buying a business

In addition to price, other critical questions need to be asked before purchasing an existing enterprise. Entrepreneurs in Alberta who are first-time business buyers might focus on the price alone, not realizing that other important factors must be considered to improve the chances of success. The first question would be for the purchaser to determine how much in personal funds he or she is willing to commit to secure the deal.

The more substantial the personal commitment, the greater might be the purchaser's leverage during negotiations of the final price and the terms. Other finance-related questions include the purchaser's willingness to share control if personal assets must secure a portion of the purchase for funding through vendor financing, mezzanine financing or equity investors. Based on the answers to these questions, will the entrepreneur be willing to give up some level of control of the business, and if yes, how much?

Civil litigation might follow feeding a child cannabis brownies

Along with the legalization of marijuana in Canada, including Alberta, come risks that might need careful consideration. Civil litigation might result from a variety of possible circumstances involving cannabis. It must not be forgotten that marijuana is a drug, and although it has medicinal qualities, it could be harmful. Precautions must be taken not only for the welfare of cannabis users but also to protect children who might be offered marijuana containing candy or other edibles.

Children are at higher risks because they might not know the difference between cannabis-containing gummy bears or brownies and those to which they are used. Parents might ensure that their personal cannabis products are stored safely, but children must learn about the risks of taking candy from others -- even if they are not strangers. Using marijuana along with other medications can also have severe consequences, and it should only be done with a doctor's approval.

Amended law aims to address hostile work environments

Employees in Alberta might find comfort in the fact that the Canadian government passed an act that will amend the harassment and violence section of the Canada Labour Code. The aim is to eliminate hostile work environments and to instill a zero tolerance for violence, harassment and any measure of unacceptable behaviour. Authorities say training on all levels of an organization is needed to bring about the culture change that is required to eradicate workplace harassment

According to the new Bill C-65, any comments, conduct or actions that could cause humiliation, offence, or psychological or physical illness or injury to an employee or colleague are defined as harassment and violence. Employers must establish protocols that will prevent such incidents and respond effectively when such incidents occur. Furthermore, employers must provide support to employees who are affected by violence and harassment.

Why is it necessary to review wills and estates?

People in Alberta will no doubt agree that many important events occur at different times in their lives. Some of those are anticipated are planned for, while others happen without proper plans being in place. When it comes to wills and estates, plans are drafted for those events that are anticipated, and occasional reviews and modifications are done to address circumstances that were not part of the plans during the original development.

Estate planning should not be seen as a one-time event, nor is it something to only consider when a person is older. Anyone who earns an income and owns any assets can start with basic estate planning at a young age. Accidents can happen at any age, and although most people do not like to consider death or disabling injuries at a young age, it might be smart to get the plans in place and then review them when significant events occur.

Civil litigation might follow slip-and-fall on dangerous property

Property owners or tenants in Alberta must take reasonable care to maintain properties in a way that will not endanger visitors. While civil litigation might follow a slip-and-fall injury suffered in a store, homeowners might be sued if a babysitter, courier, repair technician or a delivery person is injured due to dangerous conditions on owned or rented property. Typical dangerous conditions cited in premises liability lawsuits include damaged driveways, walkways and stairs -- among others.

Reasonable care includes removing snow and ice on walkways and repairing surface gaps or cracks in parking lots and other surfaces. Also, property owners must address unexpected elevation changes and damaged or missing rails on stairways. Seasonal hazards such as wet and slippery fall leaves and other debris must be removed, and steps must be taken to ensure adequate lighting in dark areas. If reasonable care is not taken to eliminate hazards, injured parties might hold the property owner responsible for damages.

Holdbacks And Lien Funds

In previous posts in this series, we defined construction liens, then looked at registering liens, and preserving and enforcing liens. In this post, we’ll examine holdbacks and lien funds. They are distinct yet related to each other. These constitute the monies owners must keep in reserve or pay to remove liens from the title to the lands.

A holdback is the amount the owner of the land must keep in reserve. It equals 10 per cent of the value of the work being performed or of the materials delivered to do the work. A holdback protects an owner from having to pay liens out of pocket. Owners release holdbacks after the lien period ends if no liens are registered against their land.

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