Networking the Rule of Law: The Canadian Bar Association’s Abandoned Intervention in Chevron v Yaiguaje

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Journal of Law and Social Policy, ISSN: 0829-3929, Vol: 26, Issue: 1, Page: 159-180

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Bromwich, Rebecca Jaremko
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article description
This article looks at public debates surrounding how a network of Canadian lawyers disrupted an amicus curiae intervention in the recent Supreme Court of Canada case of Chevron Corp. v Yaiguaje. Analysis of this case study troubles assumptions about where and how law is made and suggests possibilities for successful activist engagement. Working together on a variety of points on a spectrum as advocates, counsel, interveners, and activists, lawyers leveraged their professional networks to influence and govern a multinational corporation by affecting what arguments were raised inside the court. I analyze the public debate about intervention in the Yaiguaje case as a governmental event. This article specifically scrutinizes how political agencies exercised by Canadian lawyers outside of the courtroom in the context of their protests against the Canadian Bar Association’s proposal to intervene in the proceedings mobilized a substantive and social justice oriented variant on the construct of the rule of law. The article argues that this mobilization affected what Rosenau and Cziempiel, as well as Sørensen, Torfing and others call “network governance.” The article further suggests that the Yaiguaje decision, important in its own right, is also significant as an illustrative instance of how legal struggles happen not just, or even primarily, in the formal venues of courtrooms or legislative debates. The disruptive efficacy of network governance and the role of civil society organizations in interventions provide inspiration for how Canada’s public and lawyers may strategize to influence activity by multinationals, such as in the development of the oil sands.