Federal Court Committee Wants to Change Rules to Stop Nuisance Suits and Help Self-Represented Litigants

A committee representing Federal Court judges, court officials and lawyers is proposing changes to the rules of the Federal Court and the Federal Court of Appeal [press release] to make things easier for self-represented litigants and to cut down on vexatious lawsuits:

“The study proposes new tools to address abusive, inappropriate, disproportionate and wasteful litigation conduct. It also identifies a number of steps – many novel – to improve access to the Federal Courts, particularly by self-represented parties. ”

“The study is the product of a comprehensive policy review of the practices and procedures of the Federal Courts. A national subcommittee chaired by Justice David Stratas and comprised of thirteen judges, prothonotaries, lawyers and court personnel conducted the policy review. ” (…)

“Overall, the subcommittee found that, by and large, the practices and procedures of the Federal Courts work well. However, it urged that certain reforms be made to meet contemporary needs and circumstances.”

“Under the proposals, the vast majority of litigants – those who conduct their cases reasonably – will see little change. But those few who engage in abusive, inappropriate and disproportionate litigation conduct may find themselves on the receiving end of stiff new measures. The study decries the costs they impose on other litigants and the Federal Courts system. ”

“Noting the rising tide of litigation conducted by self-represented parties, the study urges a top-to-bottom examination of the rules to make them more understandable and accessible and offers tangible ideas for the aggressive use of web technologies to make self-help by lay-litigants a reality. It also recommends judicial education on the creative but acceptable ways in which the rules can be used to further access to justice.”

The full text of the report is available on the website of the Courts Administration Service.

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