In the most recent issue of LawNow, a publication of the Centre For Public Legal Education Alberta, there is a “Special Report” on self-represented litigants.
It includes 3 articles:
What Self–Represented Litigants (Actually) Want by Sarah Burton, a lawyer with the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre in Calgary: “Countless reports, working groups, and studies have asked this question, and reached diverse and creative conclusions. However, these papers often share one critical failing: none of them actually ask SRLs what they think. Enter the Self-Represented Litigants Project (Dr. Julie Macfarlane, “The National Self-Represented Litigants Project: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of Self-Represented Litigants“, May 2013) Dr. Macfarlane’s insightful Report has a premise that is as ground-breaking as it is simple – if we want to know what SRLs want and need, we should ask them.”
Small Claims Court: A Venue Made for Self-Represented Litigants by Peter Bowal, Professor of Law at the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, and Jacqueline Bowal, student at the University of Calgary: “Obtaining financial compensation from other individuals or companies is always a challenge, even when liability for it is clear. The obstacles to recovering compensation are considerable: including launching, winning and then collecting from a lawsuit. It is an expensive, technical and time-consuming process and (because it is a human process) the outcome is never certain. For these reasons, voluntary, non-litigation alternatives to recovering compensation, such as negotiation, mediation and arbitration, are much touted. However, litigation provides one major advantage, which is to force the other side to deal with the issue. The other good news about litigation is that there is a consumer, or layperson, form of litigation, generally known as small claims procedure, where technicality, expense and time for the parties is reduced. This article describes that procedure in Alberta. The other provinces and territories have very similar procedures.”
The Vexatious Litigant by Trevor Todd, past President of the Trial Lawyers Association of BC, and Judith Milliken, QC, an estate litigation, wills, and trusts lawyer with Stewart Aulinger, Vancouver: “We learned first-hand about vexatious litigants in 1982 after winning a successful civil claim. Thereafter, the defendant appealed— alleging the trial judge had been bribed. The defendant went on to sue several parties including the Attorney General and many downtown Vancouver law firms. Ultimately, the court granted an order prohibiting him from commencing any further court proceedings except with leave of the court. Such orders have been made against litigants ranging from the Church of Scientology, to incarcerated malcontents, to defendants in foreclosure proceedings. In appropriate circumstances, our courts are indeed willing to intervene to prevent abuse of the court process.”
This issue of LawNow also has a number of featured articles about the Supreme Court of Canada as well as its regular columns on different areas of law.