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Iris Fischer
Iris Fischer (she, her, hers) Partner | Toronto

About Iris

Iris' practice includes complex commercial litigation, internal and government investigations and white-collar matters, constitutional and other public and administrative law cases, competition matters (investigations, litigation and class actions), and regulatory matters.

Iris is a leading media & defamation lawyer, with related experience litigating privacy and access to information matters. Canadian and international media organizations frequently rely on Iris's expertise in free expression and court openness matters, including defending libel claims, opposing publication bans and getting access to court documents. More generally, she specializes in cases in which online speech intersects with commercial, privacy or other interests. She also regularly deals with evolving laws around social media, technology, and online information.

Iris represents multinational clients on government and internal investigations, including in fraud, anti-corruption and Competition Act matters, as well as in matters involving public-sector laws, such as conflict of interest, lobbying and elections finance legislation. She also advises clients in a range of industries on domestic and international anti-corruption legislation and related compliance programs, and assists with anti-corruption due diligence for commercial transactions.  

Iris has appeared as counsel at all levels of courts in Ontario, the Supreme Court of Canada and the Federal Court of Canada, as well as before administrative tribunals, arbitration panels and inquests.

Iris is the co-Practice Group Leader of the Toronto Litigation & Dispute Resolution group and leads the Blakes Media & Defamation practice. She is also the co-leader of the Firm's Public Sector Crisis & Compliance group, which helps clients navigate high-stakes legal issues where business meets government. In 2021, she was recognized as a Lexpert Rising Star, one of Canada's leading lawyers under 40.

Select Experience
  • As lead counsel at the Supreme Court of Canada, successfully represented Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. and its Chief Investigative Reporter Kevin Donovan in a precedent-setting case on openness and privacy, relating to unsealing the Barry and Honey Sherman estate court files for public view

  • Representing Belinda Stronach in various trust/commercial litigation matters

  • Representing clients on government investigations by a range of regulators/authorities

  • Conducting international anti-corruption investigations for multinational clients

  • Represented coalition of major Canadian media in application to unseal search warrant material in the police investigations that led to charges against Bruce McArthur

  • Represented an access-to-information applicant at the Ontario Court of Appeal, where the court affirmed the right to access names of doctors billing the public health-care plan

  • Represented a media applicant in a successful constitutional challenge to laws restricting access to tribunal records

  • Co-counsel in a class action defence involving several prescription medicines

  • Represented a coalition of U.S.-based media organizations and non-profits in Google Inc. v. Equustek Solutions Inc., where the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a worldwide injunction requiring Google Inc. to globally de-index certain websites

  • Represented the Toronto Star in John v. Ballingall, where the Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed that an online newspaper is still a "newspaper" for the purposes of the notice and limitation provisions in the Libel and Slander Act

  • Counsel on a current constitutional challenge relating to federalism/Indigenous rights

  • Acted as lead counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, A.B. v. Bragg Communications, involving social media, open courts and privacy rights

Awards & Recognition

Iris has been recognized as a leading lawyer in the following publications:

  • Thomson Reuters Stand-out Lawyers 2024 – Independently Rated Lawyers (As nominated by senior in-house counsel)

  • The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory – 2023–2024 (Litigation – Defamation & Media, Litigation – Corporate Commercial, Litigation – Regulatory & Public Law)

  • Chambers Canada: Canada's Leading Lawyers for Business – 2023–2024 (Litigation: Administrative & Public Law – Ontario; White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations – Nationwide)

  • The Best Lawyers in Canada – 2023–2024 (Administrative and Public Law, Corporate and Commercial Litigation, Defamation and Media Law)

  • Benchmark Canada's Top 100 Women in Litigation 2023

  • Benchmark Canada: The Definitive Guide to Canada's Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys 2023 (Litigation Star)

  • The Legal 500 Canada 2023 (Dispute Resolutions: Ontario)

  • Benchmark's Top 100 Women in Canadian Litigation 2022

  • Benchmark Canada: The Definitive Guide to Canada's Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys – 2021–2022 (Litigation Star: Litigation & Dispute Resolution)

  • Benchmark Canada Awards 2022 (Lead lawyer on Sherman Estate v. Donovan, which won Impact Case of the Year)

  • The Legal 500 Canada – 2021–2022 (Next Generation Partner – Dispute Resolution)

  • The Best Lawyers in Canada – 2020–2022 (Defamation and Media Law)

  • Lexpert Rising Stars 2021: Canada's Leading Lawyers Under 40

  • The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory – 2018–2021 (Repeatedly Recommended in Litigation – Defamation & Media)

  • Benchmark 40 & Under Hot List, Litigation Star – Canada, 2021

  • Benchmark 40 & Under Hot List, Future Star – Canada, 2019 and 2020

  • Benchmark 40 & Under Hot List – Canada, 2018

  • Benchmark Canada: The Definitive Guide to Canada's Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys – 2018 Edition (Future Litigation Star – Litigation & Dispute Resolution)

Professional Activities

Iris is a member of The Advocates' Society, Ad Idem (Advocates in Defence of Free Expression)/Canadian Media Lawyers Association, the Canadian Bar Association, and the Civil Litigation, Constitutional, Civil Liberties and Human Rights Law Sections of the Ontario Bar Association.

Publications
Professional Appearances
  • Moderator : Maintaining Compliance During Turbulence – A Global Discussion on Navigating New Regimes and Corporate Obligations
    LexMundi, Virtual, May 21, 2024.
  • Speaker : Litigating Equality in the Public Interest
    Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), April 17, 2024.
  • Facilitator : Hot Issues in International and Cross Border Vetting
    ABA 29th Annual Conference of the Forum on Communications Law, Santa Barbara, California, USA, February 1-3, 2024.
  • Speaker : How to Successfully Navigate Complex Workplace Investigations
    Blakes Business Class Webinar, December 7, 2023.
  • Speaker : Access delays and impact on democracy & journalism
    CBA Privacy and Access Law Symposium, Ottawa, Ontario, November 9, 2023.
  • Speaker : From Court to Contract
    Blakes Business Class Webinar, November 8, 2023.
  • Moderator : Trauma Informed Journalism and Responsible Communication
    Annual Conference, Canadian Media Lawyers Association, Montréal, Quebec, November 3–4, 2023.
  • Moderator : From the Bench – Judges' panel
    Annual Conference, Canadian Media Lawyers Association, Montréal, Quebec, November 3–4, 2023.
  • Panellist and Speaker : How I Did It: Achieving Success on Your Own Terms
    Women in Litigation Symposium: Forging Your Own Path, The Advocates' Society, October 27, 2023.
  • Speaker : What Is a Conflict of Interest?
    Blakes Business Class Webinar, October 25, 2023.
  • Speaker : Year in Review: A Look at the Top Administrative Law Decisions and Cases to Watch
    23rd Annual Conference on Advanced Administrative Law & Practice, Canadian Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, October 24, 2023.
  • Co-speaker : Legalities and Calamities: An Inside Look at Doing Business With Government
    Episode 29, Blakes Sound Business Podcast, September 11, 2023.
  • Speaker : Managing Mounting Social and Reputational Risks Related to the Workforce
    CBA Webinar, May 18, 2023.
  • Co-speaker : Anti-Bribery Compliance and Its Impact on ESG Reporting
    Episode 27, Blakes Sound Business Podcast, May 1, 2023.
  • Panellist : Production Across Practice Areas: Strategies from the Experts
    The Advocates Society, Online, February 15, 2023.
  • Speaker : McKercher Lecture Series at the College of Law
    University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, January 16, 2023.
  • Speaker : Key Updates on Defamation & Social Media
    Ontario Bar Association Webinar, November 28, 2022.
  • Speaker : 2022 Cross-Border Investigations Practice Group Annual Meeting
    Lex Mundi, Brussels, Belgium, September 22, 2022.
  • Panellist : Cross Country Check Up
    Canadian Media Lawyers Association Webinar, April 8, 2022.
  • Speaker : Blakes 2022 Canada/U.S. Legal Update Seminar Series: Public Sector Engagement in Canada
    PSCC Webinar, Blakes Insights Seminars, March 8, 2022.
  • Speaker : An end to cyberstalking? Caplan v. Atas and the new tort of online harassment
    McGill Law Journal Podcast, February 9, 2022.
  • Moderator : 2022 Cross-Border Investigations Business Crimes and Compliance Practice Group Virtual Meeting
    Lex Mundi Webinar, January 20, 2022.
  • Panellist : Open Justice and Administrative Tribunals: New Developments/New Challenges
    Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals (CCAT), November 30, 2021.
  • Speaker : Where Business Meets Government: Public Sector Crisis and Compliance
    PSCC Webinar, November 9, 2021.
  • Panellist : Sherman Estate SCC decision
    CMLA/Ad IDEM Zoom Conference, November 5, 2021.
  • Panellist : Virtual Roundtable: Best Practices for Managing Anti-Bribery and Corruption Considerations in Cross-Border M&A
    Lex Mundi and Association of Corporate Counsel, Webinar, October 12, 2021.
  • Speaker : Best Practices for Managing Anti-Bribery and Corruption Considerations in M&A
    Lex Mundi Virtual Meeting, September 14, 2021.
  • Speaker : Privacy and the Press: The Open Court Principle Post Sherman Estate Case
    A conversation with Kevin Donovan, Chief Investigative Reporter, Toronto Star, Blakes Business Class Webinar, September 10, 2021.
  • Moderator : Managing your stress load and lifestyle to avoid professional burnout
    Women in Law Leadership Forum, September 9, 2021.
Media Activities
  • Quoted : SCC rules Ontario premier’s mandate letters to ministers shielded from public by Cabinet secrecy
    Article by Cristin Schmitz, Law360 Canada, February 2, 2024.
  • Quoted : SCC backs Ontario government's position that mandate letters need not be disclosed to media
    Article by Aidan Macnab, Canadian Lawyer, February 2, 2024.
  • Quoted : Canada's broken access to information system
    Article by Yves Faguy, CBA National Magazine, November 29, 2023.
  • Quoted : Charter’s s. 2(b) applies to Parole Board, other non-adjudicative tribunals: Federal Court of Appeal
    Article by Aidan Macnab, Canadian Lawyer, August 8, 2023.
  • Quoted : U of T Faculty of Law students delve into journalism, media law issues during Toronto Star 'externship'
    Article by Nina Haikara, U of T News, University of Toronto, May 20, 2022.
Education

Admitted to the Ontario Bar – 2006
LLB, McGill University – 2005
BCL, McGill University – 2005

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